Rostislav Olesz has a legitimate opportunity to give his career a sense of revival. Olesz has spent most of the last two seasons in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) and hasn’t tasted the NHL life since 6 games during the 2011-12 season. The former 7th overall pick has been performing considerably well in the AHL the past two seasons, but never dazzled at the NHL level.
He does have an Olympic Bronze Medal to his resume during the 2006 Turin games for the Czech Republic. However he had 0 points in 8 games but was in the midst of his rookie season in the NHL. He has not represented CZE since the 2009 World Championships.
For much of his NHL career, he would put up pretty substantial numbers. The most points he has totaled up to is 30 (’06-07) and then 29 (2009-10), both with the Florida Panthers.
One has to wonder why the Panthers took such a risk on him. CapGeek reports his biggest years coming on the Czech U18 and U20 teams, but once he played in the Czech Extraliga on a more full-time schedule, he didn’t produce much at all. This was all before he was even drafted. I haven’t seen much of Olesz at all but one has to assume that the Panthers wanted to reach for a player that could turn out to be the future superstar.
On June 24, 2011, Olesz was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and on November 17th of the same year, he was sent down to the AHL. In 2011-12, he played in 50 games and had 41 points (17 G, 24 A) and the next season he played in 14 games and had 19 points (7 G, 12 A). Those totals aren’t too shabby to get another chance in the NHL.
The Devils fulfilled that wish very quickly when they signed him to a 1-year, 1-way, $700,000 contract that also includes a $300,000 player bonus. I think this was a pretty good contract. It is arguable that the Devils did overpay a little bit for a player who hasn’t proven himself in the NHL very well. He has also shown decent 3rd or 4th line promise in his career and could be a helpful supporting player. He will be a 3rd liner at best but could spend a lot of his time on the 4th line as well.
The Devils made a low-risk move that doesn’t kill them in the long run and can also help them improve this coming season. For Olesz, this is a chance to redeem his reputation and try to push for a permanent home in the NHL.