Oleksy signs with Penguins because it was his ‘best opportunity’ to make an NHL roster

DETROIT >> Steve Oleksy has already been on a roster with one of the current greats – Alex Ovechkin – in the NHL.

He can add another one to that list – Sidney Crosby.

The unrestricted free agent defenseman inked a one-year, two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

“It’s incredible,” said Oleksy, who had offers from other teams. “I think I’m only going to one of a couple players to get a chance to be in the same locker room with both of those guys. They’re two of the best players in the world. To learn what I have from Ovechkin and now to get a chance to learn from Sid and his approach to the game that’s something I’m going to take with me long after my playing career.”

Oleksy, 29, will make $575,000 when he’s in the NHL and $250,000 in the American Hockey League.

He’s guaranteed $325,000.

It’s a nice raise for the L’Anse Creuse North graduate, whose average AHL salary over the last three seasons was roughly $107,000. His NHL salary was $525,000.

“It’s always nice to have a couple options,” Oleksy said. “The biggest reason I signed with them was the opportunity. Everything I’ve looked at and weighing all the options I had I felt Pittsburgh was my best opportunity.

“The organization has a strong passion to win and that was very attractive as well,” Oleksy continued. “They’re continually trying to get better and are constantly in the mix as a contender.”

Oleksy, a L’Anse Creuse North graduate, had spent the last three seasons in the Washington Capitals’ organization, appearing in 62 regular-season games scoring three goals to go with 16 assists. He was also a plus-15 and 86 penalty minutes.

The right-handed blue liner also appeared in seven playoff game registering just an assist and a minus-1 rating.

Oleksy, who has also played in the East Coast Hockey League and International Hockey League, is a rugged defenseman that isn’t afraid to drop the gloves.

Oleksy totaled seven fighting majors in the AHL last season according to hockeyfights.com.

He’s got six fighting majors in the NHL during the regular season and four more during the preseason.

Oleksy went undrafted out of Lake Superior State University in 2009.

After minor pro stints that took him to Las Vegas, Port Huron, Toledo, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, Oleksy played in his first NHL game on March 5, 2013, and registered an assist in just over 10 minutes of ice time against the Boston Bruins.

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