By Jeff O’Connor
Rostislav Olesz – Forward
2013 Season Stats
Games played: N/A
Average Time on ice: N/A
Season Grade: Incomplete
There is no way to give an actual grade for Rusty Olesz and his 2013 season because he didn’t play a single NHL game due to recovery from injury. After being traded from the Florida Panthers to the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2011 for Brian Campbell, Olesz saw six total regular season games over the course of two seasons before the Hawks used a compliance buyout on him this summer. Olesz needed knee surgery in April of 2012 to repair his ACL, hence the reason he saw no time in 2013.
Olesz was cut loose on June 28. It didn’t take long for the New Jersey Devils to pounce on him, however, as they signed him to a deal just seven days later. The Devils inked him to a one-year pact, with a $700,000 base salary and a possibility of reaching $1 million depending on the amount of games played. Olesz was a first round pick in 2004, but has never come close to living up to the hype. The Devils signed him in hopes that he can chip in offensively as a bottom line player.
When Olesz has seen the ice, he’s produced to the tune of a third or fourth line player. The last time he played close to a full season was 2009-10. He recorded 78 games and posted 14 goals and 15 assists. So he certainly has some scoring ability. But once again, the issue is going to be whether he will see the ice. From the way things shook out over the summer, it appears only one spot is open in the forward pool; a winger slot on the third line.
Will Olesz get first opportunity based on seniority? Or will he be more of a 13th/14th forward to fill in for Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby, considering this is also their last crack to make an impact in the NHL? I can see Olesz playing anywhere from 20-60 games. When training camp gets going, these three players will be skating for their NHL lives, which hopefully should bring out the best in each of them.
The Devils seem to have luck with these low-risk, high-reward type signings. Simply go back over the last two seasons and see how much of a difference Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier made. Anyone remember why the Devils went after those two guys? Right, they both played at some point for head coach Pete DeBoer in Florida. Who happened to be the coach for Olesz’s final three seasons in Florida, one of which was the second-best season of his career? PDB. DeBoer obviously likes his skill set and is hoping that he get the most out of him. Furthermore, Olesz should be pretty comfortable seeing as he’ll be with three of his countrymen from the Czech Republic in Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky.
I think Olesz gets a fair share of playing time this year. I think he sees somewhere in the 45-48 game range. Surrounded with a bit more talent than his Panther days, he’ll post solid numbers to the tune of eight goals and 10 assists. He’ll also be in the plus column at a plus-2.
- In case you missed them, here are the first six parts of the series: