When Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan sat down at his desk in the summer figuring out which unrestricted free agents to keep or release, one of his top projects was creating a deal that would lock T.J. Oshie up for the long-term. The two sides agreed to an eight-year $46 million contract. Oshie earned this money after scoring a career-best 33 goals the season before. Granted this meant Oshie entered the 2017-18 season with high expectations.
Oshie had 10 goals through the first 28 games, which is relatively decent but in the Capitals Dec. 4 contest against the San Jose Sharks he left the game after a hit by Joe Thornton along the boards. Oshie missed two weeks of action and since his return to the ice he hasn’t been the same since. Since his return which came on Dec. 19 in Dallas, Oshie has scored just two goals in 35 games.
Oshie has spent some time on the first and third line. More recently, Oshie was on the third line until Wednesday morning when Trotz moved Oshie to the second line to be paired with Nicklas Backstrom and Andre Burakovksy.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 14, 2018
This was the same line that Trotz put in place when the Capitals were facing a series deficit of three games to one against the Penguins last spring. The only difference was the Burakovsky-Backstrom-Oshie line was the top line and not the second. Even though the Capitals lost the series, they came back to force a Game 7 and that line was a big factor in that. Oshie scored two points in those three games Both came in Game 6 in which Oshie had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 Capitals win.
There’s no telling if this move will work, but having Oshie back on a line that saw previous success should help increase his production. We’re in the homestretch of the season and the Caps need all hands on deck for the playoffs. It’s time for Oshie to reinvent his game. I wouldn’t be surprised if he scored off a Backstrom pass either this weekend or next Tuesday on his bobblehead night.
By Michael Marzzacco