For the second day in a row, the Caps made a late move, this time acquiring forward T.J. Oshie from St. Louis for Troy Brouwer, prospect goalie Pheonix Copley, and a third-round pick.
Like Justin Williams, Oshie is a good player, plain and simple. He's fairly productive in the regular season, averaging about 20 goals and 55-60 points per 82 games each season of his career—and is one of the best in the business in the shootout, too. He plays enough of a hard, two-way game to have merited plenty of minutes from Ken Hitchcock on a deep roster as well (although he and Hitchcock haven't always seen eye-to-eye). His advanced numbers aren't great, but they aren't poor, either. As for his playoff performance...we'll get to that in a moment.
First, here are Oshie's rate statistics since his debut in 2008.
Again, the cutoffs are 0.8 goals and 1.9 points for first liners and 0.6 goals and 1.5 points for second liners. They come from ranking among all NHL forwards—top 90 for first line and top 180 for second line, minimum 500 minutes for full seasons and 300 minutes for the lockout-shortened season—and have been fairly consistent since 2007.
Oshie has been a consistently strong point producer over the course of his career. At five-aside, he scores goals at a middle-six rate via a bottom-six shot rate and good shooting percentage, which isn't too different from Brouwer—but Oshie has been able to set up his linemates far more frequently. Part of that is Oshie plays with more talent—his most common linemates have been players like Alexander Steen and David Backes, while Troy Brouwer's most frequent linemate has been Marcus Johansson—but going off the eye test, too, Oshie definitely seems more involved in the play (and his substantially higher assist percentage and better impact on shots-for rates for his linemates are testaments to that).
Oshie was a fairly good possession player earlier in his career, but seems like he may have declined a bit in that regard as he's hit his late 20s. He still looks decent (and looks like one of the better difference-makers in the neutral zone), but not a significant "driver" overall—which is fine for a second-line player, or a top-line player slotted next to Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
Brouwer and Oshie - side by side comparison pic.twitter.com/jmghXihNhY— Domenic Galamini (@MimicoHero) July 2, 2015
One of Oshie's appeals is his versatility. He can be used as a scorer, although not a high-end one. He can also be used power-versus-power—although again, he's not high-end in that role. St. Louis used Oshie power-versus-power.
He was pretty much attached to Backes and Steen this past season, and they had their ups and downs:
Over the last couple of years, though, Oshie has proven to be one of Backes' better linemate options.
He's not quite at the level of Steen (who's right behind Alex Pietrangelo) or a young stud like Jaden Schwartz, but still can make a positive impact on a solid line for a very good team.
In Washington, Oshie may play right wing on a power-versus-power top line again, or he may slot into a second- or even third-line role (depending on how Barry Trotz wants to use Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson, Marcus Johansson, and Williams).
In St. Louis, Oshie was also a regular on both special teams units. Over the last three years, the Blues rank second in 4-on-5 goals against per sixty minutes at 5.12, while Oshie clocks in at 5.89 in about a minute and a half a game—below team average. He did a slightly better job limiting shots, and the Blues did score about a goal per sixty minutes with Oshie on the ice at 4-on-5, so all said he was an above-average penalty killer for an elite penalty killing team. Brouwer played a bit more on the PK for Washington and seemed to be about as effective in terms of goals against—a little below team average—but without the offense. Depending on systems and how aggressive the Capitals choose to be this coming season, Oshie may or may not be able to chip in with that additional offense.
On the power play, Oshie was a regular on the first unit and St. Louis (which had one of the top five power plays over this time period) generated plenty of chances and goals with him on. Brouwer, though, boasts the highest goals-for rate in the entire league over the last three years. He was a good fit in the middle of the Caps' 1-3-1, and it remains to be seen whether Oshie (or perhaps Williams) can fully replace him there (though both certainly have the raw skill to do so).
All said, Oshie may not be a huge difference-maker on special teams, but he should make a positive impact at 5v5—at least, during the regular season.
For Oshie, like for the team he's joining, the postseason has been a different story. His per-game average drops from 0.25 goals and 0.70 points to just 0.17 goals and 0.30 points (5-4-9 in 30 GP), and he averages one fewer shot every three games as well. His possession numbers are also usually on the wrong side of 50% come late April. Even from a power-versus-power top-line wing, winning teams need much more.
Regardless, he'll be replacing someone who has produced even less, and for less than half a million more on the cap. This move seems like an improvement for Washington both for the 2015-16 regular season and 2016 postseason. If he can add a productive postseason for the team on top of that, all the better.