Stars seek different look with Oleksiak, Roussel

The Dallas Stars made some roster moves Wednesday and GM Joe Nieuwendyk said the goal is to give the team a different look.

The Stars called up two players from the Texas Stars, adding size with defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and some sandpaper with forward Antoine Roussel. To make room on the roster for those two, forward Reilly Smith was sent back to Texas.

“I think it’s a good time to take a look at both kids,” Nieuwendyk said. “It gives us a little bit of a different look. We’re still searching for our identity.”

Oleksiak, the Stars’ first round pick (14th overall) in 2011, is one of the team’s top prospects, perhaps the top prospect. The 6-7, 254-pound Oleksiak has been outstanding in his first professional season, leading Texas Stars defensemen in scoring with 23 points (3 goals, 20 assists) and a plus-12 rating in 43 games. He’s tied for third among rookie AHL defensemen in scoring. He was voted in by fans as a starter for this past Monday’s AHL All-Star Game in Providence, Rhode Island.

“I think to have a presence like that on the blue line, and if we can blend him in with the D that we have to take a look, I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Nieuwendyk said. “To say that he brings size is an understatement. There aren’t too many 6-7 guys in the league.”

Nieuwendyk said the 20-year-old Oleksiak, who is nicknamed “The Big Rig,” will get in the lineup quickly.

“He’ll be in Friday night,” said Nieuwendyk, who added that how long Oleksiak stays with the big club is to be determined.

Roussel was with the Stars until just before the season opener, getting assigned to the Texas Stars the morning of the season opener against the Phoenix Coyotes on January 19. Roussel, who has 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists) and 103 penalty minutes in 41 games for Texas, is physical and plays with an edge.

“Antoine gives us a different player as well,” said Nieuwendyk. “He’s energy, he’s in your face and he’s a pest out there. That’s an element that we don’t have.”

Smith, one of the Stars’ most talented offensive prospects, had no points in six games while playing primarily on the fourth line. He was leading the Texas Stars in scoring with 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists) in 37 games when he was called up for Dallas training camp. Nieuwendyk said he wanted to get more ice time for Smith.

“I think he did a good job,” Nieuwendyk said. “He’s clearly got a gift for the game. He sees the ice well and he makes good plays. I think it’s a case where a player like that needs to be getting more than eight minutes a night. It’s a bit of a challenge right now the way we are configured. I just wanted to get him back down there and up to the usual 20-22 minutes that he plays for that team.”

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