T.J. Oshie sat out Friday night’s 1-0 overtime win in New Jersey with what coach Barry Trotz called a “flu bug,” but Oshie told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that if there is a way he can get back in the lineup tonight against his former team, “I will find it.”
Drafted by the Blues with the 24th overall pick in 2005, Oshie spent the first seven years of his NHL career in St. Louis and his relentless style of play and close connection with the community made him a fan favorite.
But after three straight first-round playoff exits, the Blues decided changes were needed and Oshie was traded to the Capitals in exchange for right wing Troy Brouwer, goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley and a third-round draft pick.
Before missing Friday night’s game, Oshie played in all 72 games for the Capitals, posting a career-high 23 goals (10 on the power play) and 22 assists for 45 points.
“I’m still kind of working that back into my game a little bit,” Oshie said of his offensive skills, which may have been stunted under Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “I think just from the years of trying to be defensive-minded that I kind of got that out of my game. I got the creativity out of my game a little bit. Here, that came back a little. There’s still definitely an accountability factor, but at the same time, there is a time that we can make a play and try to score a goal.”
Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he is surprised that with Oshie’s skill set his career high in goals before this season was just 21.
“He comes to the rink with a tremendous amount of joy, he loves to play,” Trotz said. “I knew he had a really good skill level but his skill level is a lot higher than I even thought and he’s fit in seamlessly with the guys.”
Oshie has also become a fan favorite in Washington, visiting hospitals and participating in youth and military hockey clinics.
“If a player comes and plays in a city he should invest in the city,” Trotz said. “Some guys are naturally more that way. Osh has been excellent at that. I know I asked him to stop by a clinic one night for the Wounded Warriors and he came out with (Brooks) Orpik and (John) Carlson.”
For Brouwer, the change in scenery has also been good for him. In 75 games for the Blues, Brouwer has 15 goals (five on the power play) and 18 assists for 33 points. The Blues have won three straight by shutouts and are 9-2-0 in their last 11, clinching a playoff berth Friday night against the Canucks.
“I feel all in all I’ve had a great contribution to the team so far this year, hopefully still a whole lot more contribution still to go,” Brouwer told the Post-Dispatch. “On the other side, I still pay attention to what Washington does and Oshie’s having a good year over there as well. Sometimes trades don’t always work out both ways, but I feel this trade has worked out on both sides.”
As for Copley, he’s played in 33 games for the AHL Chicago Wolves, posting a 12-15-3 record with a 2.83 GAA and .905 save percentage.