Rostislav Olesz is a name a ton of New Jersey Devils fans still don’t know. He came over this offseason after an unsuccessful stint with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was bought out of a contract that was paying him $3.25 million annually. He now has a one-way contract that is a $1 million dollar cap hit.
Peter DeBoer seems to like to bring players that he played with him on the Florida Panthers. Olesz is another one of those players. He has shown that given the right system and health he could be a perennial 25-30 point per year player. That is well worth the $1 million salary.
The last season that he played close to the full 82 games, he had 178 shots. He doesn’t have the best shooting percentage, but this Devils team is full of players who know how to put in a rebound. If you put him with the likes of Adam Henrique, Ryane Clowe, Andrei Loktionov or Dainius Zubrus, then they will be able to turn a missed shot into a goal easily. If DeBoer pairs him correctly, then he will be a viable asset for the Devils.
His biggest weakness is going to be his history of injury. He is coming off two major knee injures that nearly cost him his career; whether he can come back from them and be the player he was is key.
The competition for the last spot is going to be fierce. Jacob Josefson is one of the favorites as he was brought back as a “one last shot” kind of deal and he has been on the Devils the most. Mattias Tedenby is a player who at one time had high expectations, but he has done nothing but hurt his stock for the past three years. Reid Boucher is the hot name right now after he broke Steve Stamkos’ team record for goals on the Sarnia Sting. He is trying to make it on the main roster already, but he will probably end up on Albany. Veterans like Rod Pelley, Cam Jansen and Krys Barch are trying to give something extra to the Devils with that last spot on the roster. Stefan Matteau would also no doubt love to be on the team after showing great promise last season. Olesz will show he is more valuable this season than any of them.
When DeBoer was asked about Olesz, he spoke about him like he was almost guaranteed a roster spot. He said that he was an “NHL player”, as in that is all that mattered to him. Now, all Olesz has to do is get his legs back while showing how much he can help this team. They don’t need him to score 30 goals, they understand that isn’t his game. They need him to produce how he can. If he shows he can facilitate offense and forecheck on defense, he will be on this team. Expect to get used to seeing Olesz in your programs, ladies and gentlemen.