CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2012-13 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Steve Oleksy
Ht/Wt: 6-0, 190
Penalty Minutes: 33
Average Ice Time: 17:16
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 3-year, $1.625 million contract [$541,667 cap hit in 2013-14]
Strengths: For a guy who was playing in the ECHL last year Oleksy took his first opportunity to play in the NHL and ran with it, getting thrown into the lineup on March 5 and playing every game. He jumped from 10 minutes of ice time in his NHL debut to 22 minutes the next game and a career-high 27:55 just 10 days into his NHL career. A hard-hitting, straight talking, glove-dropping blue liner, Oleksy added some much-needed grit to the Caps’ blue line and was second among Caps defensemen with a plus-9.
Weaknesses: Some may argue that if Oleksy was left handed he’d still be in the AHL. Called up because of his right-handed shot, Oleksy saw the least ice time among Caps defensemen in the playoffs [15:09] and finished the Rangers series a minus-1 with one assist. He is not the best skater or passer, but Oleksy can walk the offensive blue line as well as any Caps defenseman, allowing him to get clear shots at the net.
Memorable Moment: Can anyone forget the March 31 fight between Oleksy and Philadelphia’s Jakob Voracek? Oleksy clocked Claude Giroux with a clean shoulder at the blue line and was greeted by Voracek, who pulled Oleksy’s jersey over his head and connected with several rights, leaving a cut above Oleksy’s left eye. Voracek received an instigator penalty and another minor for fighting with a shield and the Caps scored twice on the ensuing power play. “Tough kid,” Adam Oates said of Oleksy. “He handled it. They protected their player and our power play scored two goals like you’re supposed to do.”
2013-14 Expectations: Barring any trades or free agent signings, Oleksy will begin the season as the Caps’ sixth defenseman and with the determination he showed during the 2013 season it will be difficult to take it away from him. If Oleksy can develop into a reliable NHL defenseman he’ll do so at the NHL minimum for the next two seasons.