Comparing Seasons: T.J. Oshie

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Posted April 12, 2017

(Caps Outsider)

Pay the man?

That question will likely be the one that demands the most difficult answer in the coming months for the Washington Capitals. T.J. Oshie, the 30-year-old winger who is set to hit unrestricted free agency in under three months, was tied for the team lead in goals scored this season with perennial Rocket Richard Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin, both of whom tallied 33 goals.

All year, Oshie proved to be one of the most reliable and consistent scorers on the roster despite missing 14 games with various injuries. In a year where Ovechkin experienced the longest goal scoring drought of his career and experienced a downturn in overall production, it was Oshie that many looked to when the team needed a big goal. Many times, he delivered.

Last season, Oshie’s first in Washington, his 51 points (26 goals) in 80 games were certainly viewed as a success, proving that he fit in just perfectly within the role that the Capitals acquired him to fill. So what led to his uptick and goals and points this season in 12 less games?

Simply put, Oshie benefited from his league-high 23.1 shooting percentage, a seemingly impossible 9% increase from last season. He also saw a decrease of just over a minute of time on ice per game, something he shared with his linemates, Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Along with that, his shots per game fell from 2.3 last season to 2.1 this year. Simply put, Oshie would have been a productive player even at a more normal shooting percentage, but obviously nowhere near the 33 markers we saw this season. It just isn’t sustainable.

via @ineffectivemath (hockeyviz.com)

There are any number of stats that could influence the argument of whichever side you are on regarding re-signing Oshie this summer. Statistically, there is no denying that he had a superior year compared to some of his previous campaigns. However, it also appears to be a statistical anomaly due to his elevated shooting percentage paired with fewer games played and less ice time.

Oshie will turn 31 early next season, and will be looking at a half decade or more for term and likely north of $6 million per year due to this year’s production on his part come summer time. As Oshie ages, how quickly will he decline, and to what degree? Oshie is a perfect fit for this roster, but as some of the team’s other stars begin dipping into their 30’s as well, will this be a contract that the Capitals can stomach in six, five, or maybe even as few as three years from now?

A lot of decisions have to be made, but Oshie put together a truly special season this year for the Capitals, and has been a model player for the organization as well as a fan favorite since arriving two summers ago. No matter what happens after this year’s playoff run, we can look back on this season fondly and appreciate the show put on by number 77.

Bradley Davis

Bradley Davis

Brad is a recent graduate of Salisbury University looking to pursue a career in sports media. He is a huge Capitals fan and also roots hard for the Ravens and Orioles.
Bradley Davis