The NHL Trade Deadline this season was a quiet one. It was especially quiet in regards to the Nashville Predators organization but, with that, came the realization for many that the true strength of the team wasn’t out on the market but in its own stability.
When you look at the make-up of the Predators roster the team is so largely home grown with several individuals who made their professional debuts as members of the Milwaukee Admirals. In recent weeks many of those faces have seen their hard work be rewarded with brand new contracts. Players such as Anthony Bitetto, Colton Sissons, and Miikka Salomäki. While it wasn’t an NHL level contract the same such news was seen on NHL Trade Deadline Day when the Admirals signed defenseman Jimmy Oligny to a new two-year contract. The philosophy behind the new contract echoes the names of those signing for Nashville. Hard work was being rewarded.
Oligny signed with the Admirals as an undrafted free agent in late-June of 2014. He was removed from a junior playing career in the QMJHL that spanned across two different teams, Prince Edward Island Rocket and Rimouski Océanic, where he played 302 games, scored 123 points (29 goals, 94 assists), and accumulated 531 penalty minutes.
In his first season of professional hockey Oligny maintained a role with the Admirals at the AHL level for the whole of the season: 53 games, 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists), plus/minus -2, and 46 penalty minutes. He impressed well enough that the Admirals penned him to a second professional contract last summer. While he might have dipped a toe slightly into the ECHL waters with the Cincinnati Cyclones this season, just one-game, it wasn’t for a matter of ability or form. Oligny has quite possibly been the Admirals top defenseman in the 2015-16 season.
As a second-year pro, Oligny has looked and played a much more dominant game from the blueline. While his offensive numbers have improved from last season, 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) in 54 games, it is his defense that has been even more impressive to see evolve – and that was already his strong suit. Oligny has been a shutdown level defenseman for the Admirals and have in many ways taken up the spot left by the likes of Joe Piskula these last two seasons. As a rookie a season ago he was able to watch and learn from the likes of Piskula and Bitetto. Now he’s the man playing anchor on defense and succeeding. Oligny has the best plus/minus of any Admirals defenseman this season (+11) and is doing that while assigned to neutralize high threat offensive lines. It’s no wonder then why the Admirals took note and signed him not only for next season – but the season after than to make sure the new anchor was firmly dropped in Milwaukee.
When you listen to this latest Fifteen feature I think this all ends up becoming a full-circle story because two things come up that I would never have known if not for talking with Oligny. The first thing is that, as an undrafted hockey player, he was preparing himself to hit the books and go to school. This professional playing career that he’s experiencing wasn’t a serious reality to him once his time playing in his native Quebec was over. The second thing, and the best thing, was that this interview was conducted days before he had actually signed his new contract and he name dropped playing hockey in Europe in his future plans. I’m not sure even in that moment that he truly realized just how good of a season he has been experiencing. And that I feel speaks to the truly humble nature of Oligny.
The day I went in for this interview was shortly after the Admirals thumping defeat to the Rockford IceHogs where they lost 6-4. The most noteworthy moment of that game may have come when Oligny’s daughter was seen on the jumbotron late in the game to a great response from the fans in attendance. His long-time girlfriend and daughter, or as I refer to them as The Oligny Clan, just so happened to be on hand at practice the day I did this interview. His daughter cheered on every player as they entered the rink at the start practice and even had some fun with Marek Mazanec. I’m going to go on record in saying this group might be among the happiest people I’ve come across with the Admirals and I gladly take their background noise in this interview to that of the bombardment of Pink Floyd that took place in Félix Girard‘s edition.
Editor’s Note. You’re probably wondering what we were talking about in regards to that Taylor Aronson photo. Well, sorry Taylor, but reality is reality. You looked absolutely mortified and it is hilarious. That photo was taken by Jamie Wahl as are many of the ones you see me specifically turn into a meme of some kind. I can’t help it. And apparently the team can’t either.
Thanks very much to Jimmy Oligny for taking time to do this interview. As of right now I am literally out of Fifteen interviews in the backburner which means more need to be conducted and hopefully that takes place on Saturday morning after practice. The goal to get all players featured before the season ends is a tough one – but we’re almost there!
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