Newly acquired Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak got his first taste of his new team during practice at PPG Paints arena yesterday and it’s safe to say that the big man likes what he sees.
"It's a pretty welcoming group," Oleksiak said after yesterday’s practice. "Everyone has been very welcoming and very helpful. I'm just getting used to everything."
The hulking 6’7”, 255 pound blue liner has all the physical tools to be a dominating defensive defenseman and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan likes what he saw out of his newest player in practice. "He's a very good puck mover. For his size, he's a pretty mobile guy. He skates pretty well," Sullivan said. "His ability to play the right side even though he's a left-handed shot, he's very comfortable playing the right side and that's something that we've struggled with this year. He's a guy that has a comfort level there."
Oleksiak, just 25 years old and a former first round pick of the Dallas Stars, appreciates the opportunity he’s been given with Tuesday’s trade and is keen to take advantage. "I'm excited to be here. I'm still processing it a little bit," he said. "It's a real honor to be here right now. I'm just trying to make the most of this opportunity. I'm really grateful for it."
No word yet on whether he’ll be in the team’s lineup for tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he did pair up with Matt Hunwick on the third pairing in practice. Ian Cole was used as the 7th defenseman alongside assistant coach Sergei Gonchar in drills. Could this point to a debut for Oleksiak tonight? More to come.