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When the Capitals signed right wing T.J. Oshie to an eight-year, $46 million contract after the 2016-17 season, they did so on the heels of a season in which the tenacious forward scored a career-high 33 goals and finished with a league-best 23.1 shooting percentage. Heading into the 2017-18 season, no one expected him to be able to sustain that level of production again. While his ability to score goals was never in question, the former St. Louis Blue struggled throughout the team’s Stanley Cup-winning season, mostly due to injuries and a prolonged scoring slump. However, with an offseason full of rest and conditioning, Oshie should be able to bounce back from a tough, personal season.
While there will come a time when the 31-year old (32 in December) former first-round pick will begin to decline in terms of offensive output, Oshie has proven to be a consistent point-producer during his time with the Capitals, recording 154 points (77 goals, 77 assists) in 222 games played in three seasons , and should continue that consistency for at least another two or three seasons….provided he stays healthy.
Oshie missed eight games in 2017-18 due to a concussion suffered early in the season, and after returning to the lineup, struggled mightily to find the back of the net, scoring just two goals in a 32-game stretch lasting from December to February, a slump that no doubt put a damper on the energetic forward’s confidence. This slump followed a 10-goal showing through the first two months of the season (26 games played); Oshie was forced out of the lineup in December missing time after a game against the San Jose Sharks on December 4, 2017 to December 19, 2017 and subsequently produced the aforementioned two goals over the following three months.
But despite his struggles with injuries this season, Oshie should be more than primed for a bounce-back season next season, and while his age may concern some, his track record of consistency during his first three seasons in the District is just one reason why Oshie should be able to return to his pre-2017-18 form. But Oshie’s play down the final 16 games of the regular season and his performance in the Capitals’ playoff run to the Stanley Cup shows that, with his confidence up, he can continue to be an effective player for newly-named Head Coach Todd Reirden. Over his final 16 games played of the regular season, Oshie scored six goals and added six assists for 12 points, including five goals and five assists in 14 games played in March and one goal and one assist apiece in two games played in April. In the Capitals’ 24 playoff games, Oshie was one of the team’s most productive players, recording 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists), with a plus-5 rating.
While his injury history and age will likely be an issue down the road, for now, Oshie will continue to be one of the Caps’ most valuable offensive contributors and two-way forwards. And given his commitment on the ice and off, there is no reason to doubt Oshie’s ability to bounce back from a tough 2017-18 season.
By Michael Fleetwood