Washington Capitals right-wing T.J. Oshie called the offseason “a good time to get back with the family and kids” during his session with the media on the first day of training camp on Thursday. He travelled and went to Seattle to see some family.
Oshie said that he had a soft tissue issue towards the end of last season, which ”took a little longer to heal up but I’m ready to rock now. … I almost puked before [skate test].”
When asked about the Capitals having the oldest team in the NHL, Oshie responded that ”I love our group,” and feels like they will be more able take advantage of that. The 34-year-old thinks “a lot of guys had a lot of great off seasons,” and coming together as a team more this season will be beneficial. “We’re at our best when we do things like that,” he expressed.
Oshie told the media that center Nicklas Backstrom, who missed Thursday’s session with a hip injury and is out week to week, is “working real hard to get back” and “there’s not many guys like [Backstrom]” in terms of his drive. ”I’m excited to see who’s ready to step up,” Oshie said, adding that he feels comfortable playing center (which he did last season when Lars Eller missed time) even though did not practice at face offs this offseason.
He feels like during the past couple seasons that “We haven’t gotten ourselves to that competitive level as a whole team.” Though, he acknowledged that it feels like 10-14 guys are on their game and six are not at times. “I’d put ourselves against anyone in the league” if they use experience to advantage, Oshie told the media.
On the expansion Seattle Kraken (he was born in Everett, Washington), Oshie said “It’s going to be cool, it’s going to be awesome.” When he was looking at tickets for the Capitals’ first trip to Climate Pledge Arena on November 21, prices were high. “Great for the people, great for the team. … Very happy for the town,” he continued. He thinks head coach Dave Hakstol, his coach when he was playing at the University of North Dakota, “will bring a very good culture, a winning culture, a hard-working culture” to Seattle. He thinks that the Kraken will be a good team and is excited to play there since a bunch of his family members have never seen him play.
”I was around 98% sure that I was sticking around,” Oshie said when asked if he was worried that he was being exposed and getting picked in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. He said that he checked to who else was protected when the lists were revealed. “It was really tough losing [Vanecek]. It was great to get him back,” he said, adding that Vanecek will have to put up money on board when they go to Seattle.
Oshie is “super, super excited to play in front of a full barn at [Capital One Arena],”and did not appreciate them as much pre-COVID.
He called losing defenseman Brenden Dillon, who was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for two second-round picks on July 26, “a tough one.” Oshie described the 30-year-old as a “really good person, good friend.” He misses Dillon already and said that he texted with Dillon two nights ago.
Oshie is happy that the team is largely intact.
He thinks that right-wing Wilson might be asked to do more “which is unfortunate” after the Capitals lost Dillon and defenseman Zdeno Chara, who signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders on Saturday. Oshie called Wilson “our leader, our protector” and said that he drives the bus. Oshie feels like more players will answer the bell even after losing Chara and Dillon.
When asked about his 2% worry about going to Seattle, Oshie said that came after Hakstol was hired. “I’m so happy to be here. This is my home now,” he said. In Washington, Oshie has friends away from the rink unlike before in college and St. Louis, where his kids grew up. “It would’ve been so sad to leave,” he ended with.
By Harrison Brown