MONTREAL- OCTOBER 30: Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens getes down to stop a the puck on a shot by Rostislav Olesz #85 of the Florida Panthers during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on October 30 2010 in Montreal Quebec Canada. The Panthers defeated the Canadiens 3-1. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
In today's countdown, we recap former Panthers Sandis Ozolinsh, defenseman, and Rostislav Olesz, left winger.
48. Sandis Ozolinsh
Ozolinsh, a 6'3" defenseman from Riga, Latvia. After dishing out three assists in 44 games for Dynamo Riga, he was picked up in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft in the second round, 30th overall by the San Jose Sharks. 1991-92 would see him split his season between the IHL Kansas City Blades (34 games, six goals, nine assists), and Riga Pardaugava (30 games, six goals).
Ozolinsh made his NHL debut with the 1992-93 Sharks. In four seasons with the club, he scored 43 goals and 73 assists in 173 contests. He made a career high 26 goals with the team in 1993-94. He added three goals and 12 assists in 25 postseason games while a member of the Sharks. San Jose traded him to the Colorado Avalanche on October 26, 1995 for Owen Nolan.
Ozolinsh played parts of five seasons with the Avs (333 games, 72 goals, 181 assists). In four out of five seasons with Colorado, he eclipsed the 30 assist mark, including a career high 45 for the 1996-97 version of the club. He appeared in 82 playoff games for Colorado (18 goals, 47 assists). After the 1999-00 season, Colorado traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes with a second round choice (Tomas Kurka) for Nolan Pratt and three draft picks, a first and two second rounders (Vaclav Nedorost, Jared Aulin, and Agris Saviels, respectively) on June 24.
As a Hurricane, Ozolinsh appeared in 118 games over two seasons, scoring 16 goals and 51 assists. He also registered a minus-29 rating and spent 105 minutes in the penalty box. The Canes traded him to the Panthers on January 16, 2002 with Byron Ritchie for Bret Hedican, Kevyn Adams and Tomas Malec.
Ozolinsh appeared in 37 games for the Panthers, ranking fifth on the team in scoring despite playing less than a half season with the club. He lit the lamp 10 times on 101 shots while averaging an incredible 30:30 per game. He also added 19 assists and posted a minus-3 rating, earning 24 minutes in the sin bin.He had five multi point games that season as a Panther, including three assists in a January 21 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, 7-5.
In 2002-03, Ozolinsh again posted five two-point games for Florida, including two goals in a 4-3 season opening overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored seven goals on 83 shots, racking up 19 assists and a minus-16 rating in 51 games. He averaged 28:23 per game. The Panthers traded him to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim with Lance Ward for Pavel Trnka, Matt Cullen and a fourth round choice (James Pemberton) on January 30.
Ozolinsh spent parts of three seasons in Anaheim (84 games, 13 goals, 27 assists, minus-1 rating, 48 PIM). He later made NHL appearances with the New York Rangers (40 games, three goals, 14 assists, plus-6 rating, 28 PIM), and the San Jose Sharks (39 games, three goals, 13 assists, minus-11 rating, 24 PIM). He has spent the last three seasons with the KHL Riga Dynamo (134 games, 21 goals, 56 assists).
All-Time Statline: Two seasons, 88 games, 17 goals, 38 assists, 55 points, minus-19 rating, 64 PIM, 9.4 APS.
47. Rostislav Olesz
Olesz was a 6'1" left winger with Vitkovice HC in the Czech League. In four seasons with Vitkovice, the native of Bilovec, Czechoslovakia totalled eight goals and 17 assists in 89 games. The Panthers selected him in the first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft with the seventh overall pick. He stayed in Czechoslovakia in 2004-05 with Sparta Praha (47 games, six goals, seven assists).
2005-06 would see Olesz limited to 59 games with the Panthers due to a left knee injury. He had three multipoint games with Florida, including a goal and two assists on March 8 in a 6-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. He scored eight goals on 105 shots while averaging 14:52 TOI. He also dished out 13 assists, spending 24 minutes in the box and finishing with a minus-3 rating.
In 2006-07, Olesz put up 10 two point games, including two goals on January 4 in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames. He duplicated the feat on January 27 in a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. He scored 11 goals on 164 shots while averaging 15:30 TOI per night. He had 19 assists, 28 PIM and a plus-2 rating in 75 games.
Olesz scored 14 goals on 139 shots in 2007-08. He suffered a surgery requiring hand injury early in the season, holding him to only 56 Florida games. He had seven multi-point games that season, including a two goal, one assist in a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 21. He also dished out 12 assists, earned 16 PIM and finished the season at plus-3 in 17:04 per game.
In 2008-09, Olesz missed over half of the season due to a groin injury. He made four goals on 69 shots and five assists in 37 Panthers games. He averaged 13:12 TOI and accrued only eight penalty minutes, finishing with a minus-5 rating.
2009-10 would see Olesz appear in 78 games for Florida. He had five multi-point games, including a one goal, two assist effort in a December 18 6-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. He scored 14 goals on 178 shots with 15 helpers, 28 PIM and a minus-4 rating in 15:24 ATOI.
Between a knee injury and a broken finger, Olesz was limited to 44 games in 2010-11. He scored a goal and two assists in a 6-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 16 on his way to six goals on 71 shots, along with 11 assists. He accrued eight PIM and a minus-1 rating.
On June 25, 2011, Olesz was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Brian Campbell. He appeared in six games for the Blackhawks, going scoreless. He spent most of his season with the AHL Rockford IceHogs (50 games, 17 goals, 24 assists).
Expectations for Olesz were off the charts right from the start. His Panther career fell short of expectations in large part due to the inordinate time he spent on the injured reserved list. The trade for Campbell was designed to help the Panthers reach the cap floor, but ended up helping them reach the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons.
All-Time Statline: Six seasons, 349 games, 57 goals, 75 assists, 132 points, minus-9 rating, 112 PIM, 9.6 APS.