Dallas Stars defense prospect Jamie Oleksiak is leaving Northeastern University and will play for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League this coming season. The Spirit announced this morning that they signed Oleksiak, the Stars' first round pick (14th overall) in this summer's draft.
Todd Watson, head coach and GM of Saginaw, told the Saginaw News that he expects Oleksiak to "play on the power play, he'll kill penalties. He'll play five-on-five, he'll play four-on-four."
Watson also said he expects it will take some time for Oleksiak to adjust to the junior game.
"Do I expect an adjustment? Yeah," Watson told the Saginaw News. "Do I think it's going to be a huge one? You never know, but I think it'll be fluid. I think there will be some bumps, a lot of ups. I think he'll make a contribution in a lot of ways right away."
Oleksiak's future at Northeastern came into question after head coach Greg Cronin left the school to take an assistant coaching job with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oleksiak said earlier this month - during Dallas' development camp in McKinney - that he wanted to wait until Northeastern hired a new coach before making a decision. But Northeastern still hasn't hired a coach.
“The program has been phenomenal; they’ve done a lot to help me," Oleksiak said back on July 2. "My ultimate goal is to play professional hockey one day, so it’s a matter of where I’ll do most of my developing or developing more to get ready for that next level.”
In an interesting twist, the Saginaw News is reporting that Watson, the Saginaw coach and GM, is under consideration for the coaching staff in New Jersey, where Pete DeBoer was named head coach last week.
It's been a summer of big decisions for Oleksiak. He also had to choose whether he would try out for the USA or Canada's World Junior team. He turned down the invitation to the USA's junior development camp, which indicated Canada would be his choice.