Monday, July 25, 2011

Spirit sign Dallas first-rounder Oleksiak

The Saginaw Spirit have announced the signing of defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to an Ontario Hockey League contract.

Oleksiak was selected in the first round, 14th overall, by the Dallas Stars in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Spirit head coach and GM Todd Watson and his staff has been recruiting Oleksiak since the team selected him 138th overall in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection.

“We have been after him for a couple of years, similar to how we were after Brandon Saad leading up to last season," said Watson. “This is an important signing that helps to strengthen our defense and we look forward to him coming into camp, adjusting to the caliber of OHL hockey and contributing in the 2011-2012 season.”

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound native of Toronto played for the NCAA’s Northeastern University Huskies last season, where he enjoyed a solid season recording four goals and 13 points in 38 games as a freshman. Prior to that, he spent time in the USHL with both the Chicago Steel and Sioux Falls Stampede.

Oleksiak has dual citizenship with the United States and Canada and this season, he decided to pass on an invitation to the US World Junior team camp to try out for the Canadian World Junior squad. The Canadian National Junior Team’s Summer Development Camp is scheduled for Aug. 3-7 in Edmonton, Alberta. Oleksiak has previous international experience representing the United States in the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

"Adding an elite defenseman as Jamie is another step to our goal to win an OHL championship," said Saginaw assistant GM Jim Paliafito. "Oleksiak reminds me of a young Derian Hatcher.”

“Jamie’s unique size makes him a difficult player to play against," said Tim Bernhardt, director of amateur scouting for the Stars. "He has made great strides in the past year showing potential on both side of the puck."

"With the addition of Jamie Oleksiak to the Spirit roster, Todd Watson and his staff have continued to build the foundation of a top contender,” stated Spirit president and partner Craig Goslin. “The sports fans of the Great Lakes Bay Region are in for a really fun season with this year's Spirit team poised to do great things as we celebrate ten years of Spirit hockey."

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