On July 2nd, the Washington Capitals traded Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley, and a 2016 third round draft pick to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for T.J. Oshie. Many people in DC expected a trade was coming and Oshie was a name that kept popping up along with others such as Phil Kessel and Patrick Sharp.
The decision to go with Oshie over the other options was a very good decision by general manager Brian MacLellan. Patrick Sharp is an aging winger and the asking price would have been way too high. Also, the Blackhawks have a very tight cap situation. If the Capitals had made a trade with the Stanley Cup winners, they only could have offered low cap hit players, high-level prospects, and draft picks. The young players and early round draft picks that Chicago would have wanted are something that the Capitals wanted to protect, especially since the Filip Forsberg incident two years ago. The asking price was likely to be too high for Sharp and MacLellan made a good choice to not give up young talent and futures for a 33-year-old player on the decline.
As for Phil Kessel, the asking price was likely too high as well. Although Kessel is a strong player, there have been concerns about his physical stamina and his ability to get along with coaches. The Penguins traded one of their top forward prospects, Kasperi Kapanen, and a conditional first round pick, along with other pieces, for Kessel. Again, it seems highly unlikely that the Capitals would have been willing to give up a top forward prospect for any player.
In the Capitals’ acquisition of Oshie, MacLellan was able to give up a player that is paid like a top 6 forward, in Brouwer, for a player who actually is a top 6 forward. In his past two seasons, Brouwer tallied 86 points, which is very good, but when you examine those numbers some questions emerge. A primary reason Troy Brouwer put up these numbers is because he was on the Capitals’ first power play unit. Brouwer was able to feed off of Backstrom and Johansson who gave him perfect passes in the slot. 41% of Brouwer’s points these past two seasons have come on the power play and just above 43% of his goals have come on the power play. Unless Brouwer is put on the first power play unit in St. Louis, his point production will decrease.
However, the part of this deal that should not be overlooked is Copley’s inclusion. Copley is a young goalie who has a lot of potential. He put up great numbers in Hershey with a save percentage of .925, and a goals against average of 2.17. Although unproven goalies carry minimal weight in trades, Copley has real potential and a bright future. Of all prospects to include in a trade, a goalie is something that the capitals have an abundance of (Vanecek, Samsonov, Grubauer). The Capitals also gave up a third round pick, but those picks are worth very little in the big picture.
By giving up these pieces, the Capitals get an, albeit slightly over-rated, first line player. However, Oshie’s numbers are very impressive and he definitely provides a stronger offensive push than Brouwer ever did. Oshie has a wicked wrist shot and is also a very good playmaker. This trade provides the Capitals with a player who, because of his shot, can draw attention away from Ovechkin, yet still give the Capitals’ captain clean, crisp passes. Oshie also has very strong possession numbers with a Corsi of 53%.
This trade clearly benefits the Capitals as they receive a high scoring winger that can easily fit into the first line without giving up any core players. Oshie has never played with players as strong as Backstom and Ovechkin, and by getting this opportunity he should see a significant spike in his point production. This trade was just what the Capitals needed.
By Timmy Riskin