While NHL free agency and a number of signings have dominated the headlines among Capitals fans, July 2 marks the three-year anniversary of the Capitals’ acquisition of right wing T.J. Oshie. In this trade, NoVa Caps looks back on the trade three years later and how it turned out for both sides.
On July 2, 2015, second-year Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan traded fan favorite and veteran right wing Troy Brouwer, goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley, and a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for right wing T.J. Oshie, a move that was made in order to solidy the Capitals’ Top 6 forward unit and to provide a stable right wing for first-line staples Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Along with veteran Justin Williams (who had been signed in free agency), Oshie was considered to be a piece of the puzzle in the team’s quest to win a Stanley Cup.
Prior to coming to Washington, Oshie (a former first-round pick) had played all 443 games of his NHL career with the Blues, recording 110 goals and 200 assists for 310 points with a plus-71 rating. In that time, he averaged 16 goals, 29 assists, and 45 points a season, and had also recorded nine points (five goals, four assists) in 30 playoff games played with St. Louis.
Brouwer, meanwhile, had just finished his fourth season with the Capitals after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft for the Caps’ first-round pick. Browuer established himself as a hard-working power forward for the Capitals, and played primarily on the second-line, recording 83 goals, 69 assists, and 152 points in 293 games played with Washington, averaging 21 goals, 17 assists, and 38 points a season, including a career-high 43 points in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Brouwer also established himself as an important piece of the team’s power play.
Looking back on the trade today, it is resoundingly clear that the Capitals have “won” the trade, as Oshie has become one of the team’s core players and was instrumental in the Capitals’ run to the 2018 Stanley Cup. After scoring a career-high 33 goals in 2016-17, the Caps inked the hard-working forward to an eight-year, $46 million contract, and while he struggled through an injury-plagued 2017-18 season, Oshie recorded 21 points in 24 playoff games for the Caps this spring. Over his first three seasons in a Capitals sweater, Oshie has scored 77 goals and added 77 assists for 154 points in 222 games played, averaging 26 goals, and 52 points a season. In addition, Oshie has recorded 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 49 playoff games played for the Capitals. At 31, Oshie likely has a few more productive seasons for the Capitals before the inevitable decline in production starts.
Brouwer spent just one season in St. Louis, recording 39 points (18 goals, 21 assists) in 82 games played before departing in free agency. Copley played two games with the Blues, going 0-1-0, with a save percentage of .829 and goals-against average of 4.32 before being re-acquired (along with the third-round pick sent to St. Louis in the original trade) by the Capitals in a trade deadline trade involving defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. While Oshie has become one of the Capitals’ most valuable players, and Copley looks set to serve as Braden Holtby’s backup next season, the Blues have nothing left to show for a trade in which they gave up a first-line forward for a third-line caliber player in Brouwer. One of many brilliant moves that MacLellan has made in his four years at the helm of the Caps, the Oshie trade could arguably be considered one of the best in the history of the franchise.
By Michael Fleetwood