The Sweater Series (or Notable Numbers) #18: Jimmie Olvestad

(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Our sweater series isn't a "best player to wear the number" series, and though big names are often attached to our numers so far, Jimmie Olvestad wasn't a big name in Tampa Bay.

Number 18 is currently worn by Ondrej Palat for the Lightning, but it'd be a disservice to both him and those who have worn the number in the past to utilize him in the Sweater Series (besides, Ondrej also wore number 74, but that one will be settled weeks upon weeks from now).  One season does not create a legacy, after all...

And yet, sometimes it's the guys who have only suited up once who you think is a story worth telling.  While players like Rob DiMaio, Mike Sillinger, Marek Pomysk and Adam Hall all wore #18 for more than a single season (and odds are Ondrej Palat will join them on the multi-season list), it's a bit player from years gone by that drew my attention when having to do a write up for jersey number 18.

Marquee names are easy to do write-ups for, and in a way you can't do bit-players justice because there isn't a record comparable.  Mike Sillinger has a legacy of being a journeyman in the NHL (and a good player), Rob DiMaio intimidated the hell out of people with his gritty game (and his tenures in Tampa Bay were 13 years apart), Adam Hall was a blue-collar worker who did the dirty job on the lower lines and earned his keep.

What about 1999 3rd round draft pick Jimmie Olvestad?

Definitely not a name you associate with the legacy of #18, but every player has a story behind his role and play. Sometimes, though, when former GM Rick Dudley brought people in, you couldn't exactly tell what role he had for them, or how they would fit.  Jay Feaster pointed out in a blog post on The Hockey News that how a player fit didn't always come through clear... That was helped along by the large number of players in camp.

The interesting thing about what we went through back then was how many players we had coming through the organization. One season, we had 51 players who drew a paycheck from playing for the Lightning. We had a training camp with 60-70 guys and it was just an amazing process. Rick was trying to upgrade a talent base, and over waiver-wire transactions we would claim a guy one week and, after a couple of games, decide that he wasn't the answer and we'd put him back on waivers.

In Jimmie's case, it was probably his speed and the hope that his Swedish Elite League success as a defensive forward would translate to the NHL.  He was noted for his maturity at the tender age of 21, but certainly not his scoring touch.  Jimmie himself remarked on that one:

"I've never been a goal scorer," Olvestad, 21, said. "I had a great playoffs but I never thought I'd score 20 goals in the NHL. It's always frustrating when you don't score. ... I know (the goals) will come. I just have to keep working harder, trying harder."

Olvestad joined the Lightning for 2001-02 (he signed his entry-level contract in July 2001), a tumulus season of growing pains for Tampa Bay  as new head coach John Tortorella established rule. It started with 53 players in training camp Vinny Lecavalier holding out and then buckling under Tortorella's coaching. Budding star Martin St. Louis broke his leg, and Rick Dudley resigned after his agreed-upon trade of Lecavalier to Toronto was shot down by ownership.

Jimmie endured, though, and was part of the forecheck.  He played in 74 games in 2001-02, scoring 3 goals and 11 assists and was a plus-3 in the process.  The left wing looked to be part of the Bolts future.

But the season of turmoil in 2001-02 turned into a season of growth for Tampa Bay, and the growth led to success in 2002-03, while it also pushed Jimmie to the sidelines.  Olvestad saw many a scratching from the Bolts lineup that year, along with a stint in the AHL.  He played in only 37 games for the Bolts that year, getting 3 assists and earning a minus-3.

All in all, Jimmie's NHL career lasted 111 games and they were all with Tampa Bay. He played 2003-04 with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL before going back home to Sweden and his Swedish Elite League team, Djurgardens IF Stockholm.  He retired from hockey in the summer of 2013.

In a way, Jimmie was a casualty of success.  It's not that he wasn't contributing as-so-much the focus of the club turned from piecing things together to contention. With contention came lack of long-term planning or depth retention.  If Olvestad could have contributed to the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship is an argument that's moot in Bolts history - they won the Stanley Cup and Jimmie faded into history as another member of Rick Dudley's revolving-door era in Tampa Bay.

(Other players to wear #18 for the Lightning: Rob DiMaio, Daymond Langkow, Mike Sillinger, Marek Posmyk,  Ryan Tobler, Zdeno Ciger, Jimmie Olvestad, Adam Hall, Ondrej Palat)

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