Once a subject of trade rumors, Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak feels Senators' pain
The Ottawa Senators arrived at PPG Paints Arena to face the Penguins on Tuesday night with some extra baggage on the team bus: trade rumors.
With his team in 15th place in the 16-team Eastern Conference, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has essentially announced that he's open for business. Until the Feb. 26 trade deadline, rumors will undoubtedly swirl around plenty of players, from Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman and Derick Brassard at the top of the roster to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith and Johnny Oduya a little further down the depth chart.
For players who haven't been through the NHL trade meat grinder before, Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has some advice.
Try to relax. The grass sometimes really is greener on the other side.
Oleksiak has thrived since joining the Penguins in a December trade from Dallas.
"There's always little whispers here and there," Oleksiak said. "You can drive yourself crazy looking at trade rumors. For me, I just wanted a chance to play. Luckily, I went into a good situation with Pittsburgh.
"It was like, 'How much longer are they going to keep eight D? Am I going to sit?' You can kind of go crazy thinking about all that stuff. It's definitely a good feeling when you land in a good situation."
While trade rumors involving Oleksiak did exist before he was moved, they were never front-page news. The 6-foot-7 defenseman said he has sympathy for players who find themselves in the intense glare of the deadline spotlight.
"For a guy like me, I'm not a Matt Duchene or one of those high-end guys," Oleksiak said. "I'm sure they get it all the time, especially in the bigger markets like Toronto. Every day they get questions about it, especially those high-end guys. I can't even imagine what it's like for them."
The Senators are playing pretty well lately, winning four of their last six games, but that came on the heels of a six-game losing streak in January. Oleksiak said he thinks trade rumors don't usually affect the performance of an NHL player, but there are some exceptions.
"Subconsciously, it probably creeps in there," he said. "You want to do a little more, play a little harder. Fortunately, I'm kind of a steady Eddie. It was easier for me to just go my own way and let the chips fall where they may."
Matt Murray is scheduled to make his fourth consecutive start in goal when the puck drops between the Senators and Penguins on Tuesday night.
The Penguins are not expected to make any lineup changes. Teddy Blueger, Matt Hunwick and Chad Ruhwedel were the last players on the ice at the end of morning skate, which indicates they will serve as healthy scratches.
Mike Condon, a one-time Penguin and Wheeling Nailers alumnus, is expected to start in goal for Ottawa.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.