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T.J. Oshie admits he's thought about next contract but remains 'extremley present'

T.J. Oshie admits he's thought about next contract but remains 'extremley present'

T.J. Oshie picked a good time to set a career-high in goals. With 29 goals, Oshie currently leads the team. Should that hold, he will be the first player other than Alex Ovechkin to lead the Caps in goals since Robert Lang in 2003-04, before Ovechkin was drafted. In fact, Oshie has set a career-high in goals in each of his two seasons in Washington.

Why is that good timing? Because Oshie is currently in the final year of his contract and the need to re-sign him was made clear on Saturday with his hat trick performance.

As a top-line caliber winger who will likely hit the 30-goal mark this season, Oshie will not lack for suitors this summer. Getting a deal done before he reaches free agency will likely be high on the Caps’ to-do list after the season.

While Oshie acknowledged after practice on Monday that he has thought about his contract status, he was also quick to say he is keeping his mind on the task at hand.

“When you have a wife and two kids, you have to think about it a little bit, but anyone that knows me knows that I'm extremely present,” Oshie said.

“It's always in the back of your mind where you're going to be because I have a family to think about,” he added, “But, same token, I'm just approaching every day to come have fun at the rink, get better and do something special.”

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Right wing on the top line was a bit of a revolving door before the Caps traded for Oshie in the summer of 2015 to fill that void. He has since cemented himself in that position with his strong play beside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

But the fact that he has played so well could potentially be an issue after the season. Oshie’s salary this season is $4.5 million and, as he stands to be one of the top free agents in the NHL, he will be due a significant raise. At 30 years old, this is also likely going to be his last “big” contract. That means he will be looking for term and looking for money.

An article published by NHL Numbers estimates Oshie’s next contract on the open market will be worth $6 million for six years, but even acknowledges that is a “conservative” estimate. Re-signing Oshie was already not going to come cheap, but considering the money he stands to gain if he reaches free agency, it may take a very hefty contract to keep him in Washington.

But there are other potential factors that could work in the Caps’ favor.

Oshie’s production in Washington is no accident, clearly this team and coach are a good fit for him. His family also seems to have settled in well with the area.

“I don't think it could have worked any better,” Oshie said. “My wife loves all the other wives and girlfriends. Lila's became best friends with a couple of the young girls on the team. I couldn't have asked for a better fit, I don't think.”

That’s encouraging for the Caps, but even if Oshie is willing to take a discount to remain in Washington, it’s not likely to be a significant one.

Whether the Caps would be willing to offer him what it will take to keep him here is also a point worth considering. Oshie is, after all, on the wrong side of 30. If he does get $6 to 7 million per year, how much longer will he be able to play up to those numbers?

Landing a player in free agency almost always requires overpaying them. Whatever the Caps will be willing to pay Oshie, chances are another team will be willing to pay more. Whether the Caps will be able to keep him from getting to that point where he can start listening to other offers remains to be seen.

MORE CAPITALS: Penguins, Blue Jackets keep up the pressure on Caps

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How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

The Capitals found themselves in deep trouble on Saturday.

Game 5 at Capital One Arena provided Washington a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. A loss -- another home loss -- would have been a devastating blow.

After battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, to lose in Washington would mean facing elimination in Columbus. Game 5 was the game the Caps needed and it would have slipped away from them if not for Nicklas Backstrom.

The Caps’ most underrated superstar -- the one who is constantly overshadowed by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby -- took center stage on Saturday as he tipped a Dmitry Orlov shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 11:53 of overtime to seal the victory for Washington.

“It was just a good shot from [Orlov],” Backstrom said after the game. “I thought before he had a chance to block it, and I got a tip on it, and it’s usually what happens in the playoffs. Tip goals or rebound goals. That’s the way it is. It was nice.”

Backstrom’s overtime goal capped off a three-point night for the veteran center, who also scored in the first period and assisted on a goal from T.J. Oshie.

The team ended up needing every one of his points.

From the start, Columbus outplayed Washington. With the series tied 2-2, a best-of-three mentality took over and the Blue Jackets pushed hard for the pivotal Game 5 win.

It is in those very moments that team needs its superstar players to step up. In Game 3, it was Holtby who stole the show to help Washington steal a win in Columbus.

On Saturday, it was Backstrom.

Columbus converted a shorthanded goal to seize a 1-0 lead in what was shaping up to be a dominant first period. A fluke goal from Backstrom, however, made sure the score was knotted up, 1-1, after the opening frame.

With the puck behind the goal line, Backstrom tried to slip a pass through the crease. Bobrovsky got a piece of the puck with his stick, but the amount of spin on the pass forced the puck to carom off the stick, off the back of Bobrovsky himself, and into the net.

“I was trying to make a pass,” Backstrom said. “Honestly, got lucky. I don’t know who came back-door there but I was trying for him. I’ll take it.”

After a back and forth game, the Blue Jackets came out swinging to start the third. Down 3-2, Columbus tied the game just 2:30 in and made a real push to win the game in regulation. Washington was outshot 16-1 in the third and looked like they had no push at all.

But the Caps looked like a different team when they took the ice for the extra frame. What happened in between periods?

“As I was leaving the room after the period, I could hear guys, the right guys, all saying the right things,” head coach Barry Trotz said.

When later asked if one of those guys was Backstrom, Trotz said, “Absolutely. He's one of the leaders on our team. They were all talking about let's make sure we're doing the right things. There's a lot of pride, lot of good leadership in that room.”

Whatever Backstrom and the other leaders said did the trick. Washington made a strong push in overtime leading to Backstrom’s game-winning goal.

This isn’t the first time Backstrom has delivered. Saturday’s overtime tally is the fourth of his career. That’s the most in franchise history and tied for fifth in NHL history.

Through his efforts on the ice, the Caps were able to erase a bad first period and steal the win in overtime. But it also took a big effort off the ice to get the job done.

“If you just look at the scoresheet, that doesn't say enough of about Nick Backstrom, his contribution from in the dressing room to on the ice to key moments to key faceoffs,” Trotz said.

“I've been on his soapbox about how complete a player he is and I never really worry about Nick Backstrom. He's got enough games under his belt, he's got enough stats to back it up and he's played huge minutes and he's one of our leaders. He's a tremendous hockey player.”

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John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

After losing Game 1 and Game 2 at home, Alex Ovechkin declared "It’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home.”

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella seems to be taking a similar tactic.

The Capitals won Game 5 in overtime on Saturday in a game that could prove to be emotionally draining for the Blue Jackets in a number of ways.

  • It was Washington's third straight win
  • Columbus was the better team for the majority of the game, but still took the loss
  • The Blue Jackets now face elimination despite holding a 2-0 series lead to start and losing only once in regulation

Tortorella has become famous for his fiery postgame press conferences in the past, including abruptly walking out after Game 4's presser when he declared "We sucked" to the media.

Saturday's was another fun one.

In a presser that lasted less than two minutes, Tortorella twice said, "We'll be back here for Game 7."

After such a draining game, Tortorella was asked how he would get them ready for what is sure to be an emotionally charged Game 6.

"I won't have to say a damn word to them," Tortorella said. "No. We'll be back here for Game 7."

The Blue Jackets will have to win Game 6 in Columbus to make that happen.

Barry Trotz was asked for his reaction after Tortorella's comments.

"What else are you going to say? That's good. He wants to get it out there, he believes in his team just as I believe in my team. It's our job for that not to happen."

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