Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk this afternoon recalled defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from the AHL, and said he expected the towering defenseman to make his NHL debut Friday against Phoenix and then join the team on a three-game road trip through Phoenix, Colorado and Edmonton.

"We'll see what he can do, and then we'll assess from there," Nieuwendyk said.

Oleksiak is believed by most to be the team's best prospect. Drafted 14th overall in 2011, he just turned 20 in December. Listed at 6-7, 254, his nickname is "The Big Rig." He has a long stride and is a good skater. He also can be a physical presence. (Check out his first fight in the AHL here). Comparisons are out there to people like Zdeno Chara and Tyler Myers because of the size alone, but Dallas wants to take its time with his development. Still, the Stars see Oleksiak as a huge part of their future, because he appears to be a defenseman who can eat minutes and play in several roles _ and that pretty much makes him a candidate to eventually fill the No. 1 role this team so desperately needs.

The team's top four defensemen _ Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski and Philip Larsen _ are 6-0 or below, and 200 pounds or less. Rookies Brenden Dillon (6-3, 210) and Jordie Benn (6-1, 200) offer a little size, but Oleksiak has reach and presence that has been lacking.

"Clearly, he brings the size element that we don't have right now, so that's an obvious benefit," Nieuwendyk said. "You look at Robidas and Daley, and Goligoski and Larsen, and it's something that we could use some help on."

Oleksiak has played 43 games for the Texas Stars this season and has 23 points (3G, 20A). He played in the AHL All-Star Game last weekend and was plus-3 with the game-winning assist.

Nieuwendyk said the team would carry eight defensemen for now, but that he expects Oleksiak to be in the lineup.

"It's time to take a look at him," Nieuwendyk said. "We've watched him play very well at the AHL level, so now it's time to see what he can do at the NHL level."

The Stars are 2-4-1 after the first seven games and are in the middle of their first two-day break of the compressed 48-game season. In addition to recalling Oleksiak, the Stars also recalled gritty forward Antoine Roussel and sent back skilled forward Reilly Smith. Because Smith was getting minutes on the fourth line and is not what you would call a grinder, Roussel should be a better fit.

Asked if the team is trying to add grit that appeared to be lacking, Nieuwendyk said he believes there are all sorts of elements throughout the organization that can help the team.