The Washington Capitals late Monday night announced they signed and recalled D Steven Oleksy. The right-handed defenseman, 27, had played 55 games with AHL Hershey, amassing 151 penalty minutes to go along with two goals and 12 assists. Oleksy has played for seven minor league teams since 2008 (Las Vegas (ECHL), Toledo (ECHL), Idaho (ECHL), Port Huron (IHL), Lake Erie (AHL), Bridgeport (AHL) and Hershey (AHL)).
To make room on the roster, most likely Mike Green will be moved to the injured list. Oleksy will slide into the right-handed spot on defense Green has left vacant since his last injury. bumping either Tom Poti or Jeff Schultz from the active roster to join Roman Hamrlik in the press box.
It’s obvious by the Caps’ two most recent transactions, Oleksy and Aaron Volpatti, that team management feels a certain element has been missing from the team. Olesky will certainly add that element on the blue line. A more-than-willing combatant, Oleksy leads Hershey in PIMs and is 13th in the AHL overall. He has fought 11 times for the Bears this season according to this post by Mike Vogel and has 51 pro fights to his card.
Oleksy’s problem — as with Volpatti — is that he is undersized to be such a fighter. At 6’0″, 195, he is not an imposing firgure at all on the ice. He offers nothing by the way of intimidation, which should be the element you want an enforcer to bring to a team (if you still believe that element is necessary in today’s NHL, an opinion I do not share).
At least last season when the Caps brought up Joel Rechlicz for a handful of games, he not only brought his fists, but his good size to add the intimidation factor. Of course, he didn’t stick around very long since fighting was his only useable skill in the NHL.
Oleksy and Volpatti are “reactionary” or “motivational” fighters, players that fight when conditions call for it (injury or threat of injury to a skill player or to get a team fired up from lackadaiscal or poor play). We saw that Saturday when Volpatti took on a player three inches and 30 pounds heavier than him in the Caps lackluster first period against Winnipeg. Volpatti was brutilized in the fight (despite his sparring partner injuring himself punching Volpatti), but the Caps owned much of the play following the fight.
Oleksy might add some toughness around Braden Holtby’s crease against the bruisin’ Bruins Tuesday night. But the Caps roster has gotten less talented with each of the last two transactions GM George McPhee has made. It will be interesting to see the direction he takes the squad as the season progresses.