As we do each and every year in the weeks leading up to Capitals training camp, NoVa Caps is preparing key “player previews” for the coming season. Today our annual player previews continue with T.J. Oshie.
2016-17 Season Recap:
Oshie was one of the most consistent players last season when healthy. He scored 33 goals and 56 points in only 68 games played. Oshie, 30, shattered his previous career-high in goals (26 in 2015-16) and only came four points shy of his career-high in points (60 with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14) despite missing 14 games. Oshie also scored four goals and 12 points in 13 playoff games.
With his career average of 0.82 points and 0.49 goals per game, he had the potential to reach 40 goals and 68 points if he had played the full season. He also had a 23.1 shooting percentage, which led the Capitals and the NHL for players that played in at least 65 games. He even finished 14th among all skaters in shootout efficiency, converting on 66.7% percent of his shootout attempts last season. The next best player, Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers, only converted on 50% of his attempts. Oshie’s success earned him an eight-year contract extension worth $46 million ($5.75 million AAV). He would have become an unrestricted free agent July 1; had he left, it would have created a huge hole in the Caps’ lineup.
“T.J. is an invaluable member of our team, and we felt it was imperative for us to re-sign him in a competitive free agent market,” said Caps General Manager Brian MacLellan in announcing the extension. “T.J. is a highly competitive player with a tremendous skill set; he epitomizes the kind of player our team must have in order for us to continue to put ourselves in a position to compete in this League.”
“I sat down with my agent and told him that I really liked Washington, and it’s somewhere that I would like to re-sign at,” Oshie said. “From there, it was kind of a waiting game. Talks just got going, really heated up in the last couple days. So I was kind of a nervous wreck for a while, [but] everything worked exactly how I wanted it to, and I really couldn’t be happier with staying and re-signing.”
It is unlikely that Oshie will maintain his stellar 23.1% shooting percentage (or scores 30 goals) again this season, but there is no reason why he can’t score around 25-27 goals. Having Oshie back gives Coach Barry Trotz options for his top-line: he can keep last year’s line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Oshie together or he can use a line that includes Backstrom and Andre Burakovsky. The Burakovsky-Backstrom-Oshie line scored six goals and nine points in two games during last year’s playoff series against the Penguins.
With 68 out of the 261 goals (26%) from last season gone, replacing that offense has to come by committee. Oshie must continue to be consistent and show the worth of his new contract if he and the Caps are going to be a competitive team.
Oshie needs to continue being consistent and keep being an impact player on special teams.
More of this:
In this goal against the Penguins, Oshie turns Evgeni Malkin’s pass to Kris Letang into a 2-on-1 odd-man rush. Beagle races to the puck with Letang and is stopped by Penguins’ goalie Matt Murray on the breakaway. Letang doesn’t see Oshie behind him, and Murray coughs up a rebound, which Oshie pounces into the open net. This is a perfect example that shows Oshie’s speed, skill, and two-way play.
Less of this:
Oshie missed 14 games due to injury last season, two in 2015-16, and 10 in his final season with the Blues. The Caps were the healthiest team in the NHL last season and if the Caps are going to push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, they must continue to stay healthy.
Keys for the 2017-18 season:
Oshie is expected to maintain his average production from the past two seasons. He may be unlikely to match last season’s performance, but here are some keys for him to match his new contract:
- play at least 75 games
- stay productive on special teams
- score 25+ goals
- produce at least 50 points
- keep being a positive influence in the locker room
Other Player Previews:
By Harrison Brown
SUMMERTIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA