Northeastern University defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak, the tallest draft-eligible player on the board for the 2011 Entry Draft at 6-foot-7, 244-pounds, is currently making the most of his time in the Boston area prior to heading out to the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto next week.
Oleksiak informed NHL.com that in addition to taking extra classes, he's hard at work preparing for the rigorous fitness testing he'll undergo at the Toronto Congress Center beginning June 3.
"I've been working with a strength coach (Dan Boothby of Northeastern) Monday through Friday, preparing for the Combine," Oleksiak told NHL.com. "We'll do testing a couple times, doing the Wingate and VO2 tests maybe once or twice. I'll definitely work on stuff that'll help me for the Combine and kind of get me ready so I'm at peak performance going in there."
Oleksiak admitted that Boothby, the assistant coordinator of speed, strength and conditioning for the Northeastern men's hockey team, has kept in close contact with Toronto-based strength coach Matt Nichol while coordinating all his workouts at Northeastern.
"Matt is familiar with the Combine and he'll talk with Dan and discuss what I need to do to train and what I should look forward to and what I should be ready for," Oleksiak said.
"I'm a complement to Dan since he sees him much more often during the year," Nichol told NHL.com. "I provide some feedback when I see him, but Dan is the point person. He's not out to turn Jamie into a competitive weight lifter or body builder; just a hockey player."
Oleksiak is looking forward to the Combine.
"The Combine is going to be a great experience," he said. "It's something that happens only once in your lifetime and it gives you a chance to show your skill to a lot of people that could determine your future, so I'm looking forward to it. Toronto is my home, so that should be a lot of fun."
While Nichol feels it's important for every prospect attending the Combine to become familiar with the tests they'll undergo, he also warns those same players not to overdo it.
"I don't think the Combine is going to make or break anyone's career in the NHL, but the key is to not be stressed out about it," Nichol said. "I do think you'd be well served to be familiar with what you're going to do so that you don't get there and panic that you have to put a tube in your mouth and have people stare at you (during the bike tests).
"I also don't think it's a good idea to train for the test because I believe that the process of training for the test will actually make it worse."
As a freshman, Oleksiak finished with a team-best plus-13 rating, was the second-highest scoring defenseman with 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) and averaged 1.36 shots per game at Northeastern. His fine play over the second half of the season enabled him to jump 14 spots to No. 13 on the final listing of North American skaters in April -- the largest leap of any player in the top 20.
"People are aware that he's a big guy and they'll expect him to be strong, but they're looking for chinks in the armor at the Combine," Nichol said. "Is he physically clumsy? Does he quit or does he hang in there? Truth is, I feel Jamie has above average mobility and I don't just mean for a guy his size. Flexibility and mobility will always be a challenge for a big guy but I think he's aware of that and he's worked hard to compensate for that. All the things I think people might expect him to be poor at, I think they're going to be surprised when they see him."
That's certainly what Oleksiak is hoping for.
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