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“The simpler I can keep my game, the more successful I’m going to be,” Oleksy said. “I’m not going to run around and try to be offensive. Make the good pass, contribute where I can. I try to bring a lot of energy, be strong defensively, bring a physical presence, chip in offensively wherever I can.”

The best advice he’s given thus far is “communicate,” Schmidt said. “Make sure to communicate and a lot of things will take care of themselves. That’s what we’re trying to do on the ice. We’re comfortable with each other. We’re developing a chemistry. We started developing it a little bit in training camp.”

It’s difficult to judge Schmidt’s progress after just two games, though Oates‘ initial impression of Schmidt is favorable.

“He moves the puck well, sees the ice well. He’s handled the speed of the game better than I thought he would, which is great,” Oates said.

It’s also not a guarantee he and Oleksy will continue as a pair when Erskine returns. But no matter how the pairings fall, Schmidt will always have a willing and ready ear.

“He’s a great kid with tools, a lot of upside,” Oleksy said. “He has a great mind for the game, which is very important. He enjoys the sport and he’s excited to learn.”