Former Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak gets right back to where he started from |

Former Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak gets right back to where he started from

Jonathan Bombulie
Florida Panthers defenseman Mackenzie Weegar (52) and defensemen Keith Yandle (3) defend as Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (2) takes a shot at the net in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, March 19, 2019.

DALLAS – There are very few players in the history of hockey who can relate to what defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has gone through in the past two seasons.

In December of 2017, the Dallas Stars shipped him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a fourth-round draft pick. In January, the Penguins sent him right back to the Stars for the same price.

In other words, in a span of 13 months, he ended up right back where he started.

“Obviously whenever you get traded, it’s tough, but when you’re going someplace where there’s some familiar faces and stuff, it’s nice,” Oleksiak said. “We’ve got a great group of guys in the room and it’s been a lot of fun being here. Making a little playoff push. It’s a fun time of the year. It’s been a whirlwind, as it usually is. Just trying to soak it all in.”

Oleksiak said he found his short stay in black and gold valuable, especially because he was able to get an up-close look at the way some of the Penguins’ high-end players approach the mental side of the game.

“Having a short memory. Not thinking too much on things,” Oleksiak said. “Whatever happens in the game, good or bad, putting that behind you and focus on the next shift or the next game. I think that’s kind of the mentality you’ve got to have. I picked that up from a lot of the guys there. Obviously they’ve had a lot of success and I think that’s a key part. Just putting your nose down and working and enjoying the ride.”

A lot changed in Dallas while Oleksiak was away. Most notably, coach Jim Montgomery took over for Glen Gulutzan behind the bench.

“I’ve only been gone for a year but it feels like I’ve been gone for six,” Oleksiak said. “It’s wild. I was only in Pittsburgh for six months, six hockey months, but it feels like I was there for way longer. It’s crazy, but that’s the nature of the business, I guess.”

Oleksiak, who has no points and a minus-1 rating in 18 games since returning to the Stars, is seventh on the defenseman depth chart in Dallas. He will be a healthy scratch against the Penguins on Saturday night.

The Penguins aren’t expected to make any lineup changes after a 2-1 shootout win in Nashville on Thursday. Olli Maatta (shoulder) has not yet been cleared to return to the lineup. Matt Murray will start in net.

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
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