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Should He Stay Or Should He Go: TJ Oshie



Washington Capitals

TJ Oshie: does his veteran presence still have a place with the Washington Capitals? Or could he be on the chopping block as the team looks to get younger?

It’s safe to say that Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan has his work cut out for him this offseason, especially after the team’s first missed playoff appearance since 2014. But what could the offseason entail for Washington?

Today, Washington Hockey Now takes a look at TJ Oshie. The aging veteran was once a key piece of the Capitals’ offense, but is now nearing the end of his professional hockey career. With two years left on his contract, could he spend that time in Washington? Or, is he better suited to go elsewhere?

The Case For Keeping Him

When Oshie eventually does hang up his skates, he’ll probably go down best remembered for his time in Washington.

Acquired via trade from the St. Louis Blues in 2015, Oshie quickly cemented himself on the Capitals’ top line across from Alex Ovechkin. Oshie’s offensive prowess complimented Ovechkin from the start as Oshie was the Capitals’ No. 2 goal scorer in each of his first two seasons in Washington, helping guide the team to two consecutive 118+ point seasons.

In 2017-18, Oshie’s 21 playoff points placed were instrumental in the Capitals winning the Eastern Conference. He tallied six points in the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights, ultimately bringing the first Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital.

What does that mean for Oshie? Well, the NHL is a business. But sometimes when you’ve been through so much with somebody, it’s hard to move on. Some teams feel they owe it to certain players to keep them around, and Oshie very well may fall into that category — especially with only two more years left on his current contract.

Sure, Oshie had his share of struggles last season, but were they genuine? He tallied 35 points in 58 games despite battling injuries all season long, still finishing sixth on the team in points despite missing the final two weeks of the regular season with an upper-body injury.

Off the ice, Oshie has been praised as a teammate — perhaps a key piece for maintaining the team’s culture as the Capitals approach a crossroads.

The Case For Moving On

Oshie is regressing — hard. The 36-year-old’s plus/minus has plummeted over the last three seasons, with Oshie registering -18 in 2022-23. His 2021-22 season — in which he played 44 games — saw a handful of career lows including the lowest points per game rate of his 15-year career.

He’s the second-oldest player on one of the league’s oldest teams, so Oshie’s decline could simply be attributed to his age. But everybody’s day comes eventually, and Oshie’s could be this offseason.

MacLellan has been outspoken about the need to strategically make the team younger, which would obviously require the Capitals to cut ties with some players. Forward prospects like Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre, for example, are knocking on the door of Capital One Arena, seeking NHL playing time and a consistent role — promotions that would require open space on the Capitals’ depth chart.

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