Jamie Oleksiak, a 6-foot-7, 241-pound defenseman chosen 14th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars, is one of 22 players within the organization attending the NHL Prospects Tournament this week in Traverse City, Mich. Oleksiak has agreed to provide NHL.com with a daily blog that will offer an inside look at the tournament both on and off the ice.
I want to start off by first saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those lost in the plane crash in Russia. Also, I know a lot of people are being affected by fires in Texas and I want to wish them the best. We're all thinking of them.
I know (Sunday) is also the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and we're all thinking of those families who were affected on that day. My step-sister actually lived in New York at the time of the attacks, so it was scary for us since she was working in New York and pretty close to the whole thing. It was definitely a tragedy, but it brought the world together.
As far as my summer goes, it has all gone so fast. I can't believe it's almost over … the Draft, the decisions I had to make, Team Canada development camp. It was a pretty hectic summer and pretty surreal, looking back on it. At this point I'm looking forward to the season and to the Traverse City tournament and doing the best I can. Obviously, I can't look back on the decisions I've made but I'm happy with them … it's all about moving forward. I had a chance to relax a little bit in North Carolina for a week in August before training camp in Saginaw to refresh the mind and body.
We got into Traverse City (on Friday). I was in Saginaw (at camp) and drove down with some of the guys who were going down from Detroit to fly out and I met up with Dallas in Detroit. I kind of laid low and relaxed a little bit when we got in. We skated (Friday) and then some of the guys went to the mini-putt course afterwards. I was tired after that skate so I decided to go to bed and went out to dinner at Ruby Tuesday's later on -- the 12-ouncer was pretty good.
The training in Saginaw was good. I knew most of the guys there like (John) McFarland and (Vince) Trocheck. It was good to see some familiar faces I haven't seen in a while and catch up with them. There are a lot of great guys there and they are all headed off to camp and seem to be excited about that; it's great experience for me. The training was good and coach (Todd) Watson really knows his stuff, along with the rest of the coaching staff. Watson is a little tough and he likes to work the guys and make sure the pace is good, but the guys kind of buy into the systems. It was a good atmosphere and there's a lot of support there with the fans and the community. It looks like it'll be a really good team.
Obviously, I want to do my best here in Traverse, but at the same time I look at it as they picked me for a reason. I'm coming here to play my game and play to my strengths and just kind of show them why they brought me in … I want to make an impression but stick to my game too. Hopefully that's what they're looking for.
I'm rooming with Brendan Dillon. It's going well because he's probably one of the leaders on the team and a great guy. I feel since he has AHL experience, he's kind of someone I can look up to and learn from. All the older guys have made the younger guys comfortable and at ease so it's been great.
I'll file another blog after our game with the New York Rangers on Sunday.