When the Capitals acquired T.J. Oshie nearly two years ago, they did so with the hope he could solidify the first-line right wing spot in their lineup; one that had been a revolving door for years. And now in the final year of his current contract, Oshie has proven himself invaluable to the Caps and his future needs to be determined before July 1.
Oshie has been one of the Caps’ most productive players when healthy, as he is second on the team with 19 goals, behind Alex Ovechkin’s 25. He is one of the Capitals’ most valuable weapons on the power play and has been a steadying presence on the top-line.
Through 43 games played (he’s missed nine games due to injury and one for personal reasons), he’s scored 19 goals (he scored a career-high 26 in his first season in Washington) and added 15 assists for 34 points. This puts him on pace for a career-high 33 goals, and 26 assists for 59 points. And at 30-years old, Oshie is still very much in the prime of his career.
Oshie has also been one of the best forwards defensively for the Caps. He has a Corsi rating of 50.0 and the Caps have a save percentage of .931 when he is on the ice.
The Capitals will have some difficult decisions this summer when it comes to free agents. Among their most notable (both restricted and unrestricted) are Oshie, Karl Alzner, Justin Williams, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Nate Schmidt, Brett Connolly, Dmitry Orlov, and Philipp Grubauer among others. With heavily limited cap space at the moment, the Caps will not be able to afford all of them. Oshie will likely command a mich higher salary than his current $4.175 million, and will likely be looking for a long-term deal.
The reasons Oshie is so invaluable are that the loss of his production will undoubtedly hurt and that the Caps simply don’t have a clear replacement ready to take his place. While Tom Wilson could see more ice time, he may not be ready to shoulder heavy minutes. No matter what happens come late June and early July, Oshie will have an impact on the Caps, whether he stays or goes.
By Michael Fleetwood