Keith Richards, cockroaches, and the Dallas Stars tenure of Jamie Oleksiak are three things I was convinced would survive the apocalypse. Two of the three are still going strong after the Stars shipped Oleksiak to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2019 conditional fourth round draft pick.
It would be easy to sit here and drag Oleksiak in the wake of his departure. His play has provided multiple opportunities should anyone want to do it. I’ve been guilty of doing it on numerous occasions, which isn’t fair to the person. It isn’t his fault that the organization continued to put him in the lineup and give him a roster spot. Whatever reason you want to identify doesn't really matter at this point, but he clearly hit a wall developmentally.
It only took the Stars two and a half seasons to recognize it.
Players like Oleksiak will come and go. His story isn’t really a story about him. His story is a story of how the Dallas Stars bent over backwards for several years to keep a pair of defensemen around for whom they would ultimately only get a total of one draft pick in return. Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth stayed on the roster or in limbo for several years because the usually decisive Jim Nill couldn’t make a decision. In the end the players made the decision for him by both being expendable.
Prospect development has been the single biggest problem for the Stars under Nill. Depth guys have risen. Radek Faksa has developed beyond what anyone could have imagined several years ago. Julius Honka is finally getting the ice time he deserves to prove he’s legit. Outside of those two the best player developed under Nill’s administration has been Stephen Johns by far. A solid player no doubt, but this league is run by stars. John Klingberg is the last core player the Stars developed in house. Jamie Benn is the last before that.
Benn has been a Dallas Star for almost a decade.
At some point the Stars have to get better at identifying and developing eventual key players. The salary cap will get really tight if and when Tyler Seguin signs an extension. It may actually be too late for that, given how long prospects take to develop. After the Stars rightfully selected defenseman Miro Heiskanen with the third pick in the draft last year the easiest path for acquiring young impact talent up front is going to be through a trade with all the depth they have on the back end.
None of this is to say the Penguins can’t work Oleksiak into a good NHL player. They certainly could and have a history of picking players up on the cheap before turning them into good players. I hope it works out for Oleksiak. I would be shocked beyond belief, but nonetheless I hope it works out for him. He never had the upside his supporters wanted to see. I do see a potential bottom pairing guy or a 7th defender that you can trust with some penalty killing time with some patience.
The Stars have enough depth now that they have no reason to continue being patient. This move was a long time coming and is the best thing for both the team and player. Honka has earned his roster spot and this trade immediately makes the Stars better without acquiring a single NHL asset.
Best of luck, Oleksiak.
For more thoughts on Jamie Oleksiak or Keith Richards You can follow Josh Lile on twitter at @JoshL1220
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