Before the Capitals released their list of protected players for the expansion draft in July, forward T.J. Oshie was a candidate to be left off despite being one of Washington’s best players the season prior. The Capitals’ payroll was pushed right up against the salary cap and letting Oshie go would’ve freed up $5.75 million in cap space each of the next four seasons.
However, Oshie’s talent was enough to convince the Capitals to hold onto him and prevent the newly established Seattle Kraken from plucking him back to his hometown. The Everett, Wa. native wasn’t too worried about the prospect of being left unprotected, though he wouldn’t go as far to so say he was 100% confident.
“I don't know if I was overconfident, but I was around 98% sure that I was sticking around,” Oshie said in a press conference Thursday. “So when I saw the list I was more interested in who else was being protected, who on the back end was being protected, what other forward. You can go through the list and see who you expect to be on there.”
Oshie, 34, is coming off one of the best seasons in his 13-year career — albeit a pandemic-shortened one. He racked up 22 goals and 21 assists over 53 games, often filling in at center when a series of injuries and coronavirus issues tested Washington’s depth at the position. His Corsi For Percentage was 58.2%, the highest he’s ever had in the NHL.
With his future secure, Oshie has reported to the MedStar Capitals Iceplex for training camp ahead of Washington’s preseason opener Sunday against the Boston Bruins. Though being picked up by the Kraken would’ve allowed him to return to his hometown, he’s glad to be able to stay in his adopted home of D.C.
“I'm so happy to be here,” Oshie said. “This is my home now. This is where my kids have grown up. This is where my kids have friends in school. I have friends away from the rink, which I never really had ever from grade school all the way through St. Louis. Never had many friends away from the rink and now I have a bunch of close ones that I've met just from dads and families at preschool that have grown up with our kids. So this is home now and it would have been really sad to leave. But yeah, I'm glad I'm here.”
That being said, Oshie is still looking forward to making the trip up to Seattle for the Capitals’ first game against the new expansion team, scheduled for Nov. 21.
“It's going to be awesome,” Oshie said. “It's going to save my family the drive going up to Vancouver. Ticket prices looks a little high right now so it's going to be an expensive game for me but it's going to be great. I'm so happy for the people in the area. It's a great sports town, not only Seattle but all the cities surrounding it…I'm looking forward to playing there in front of my family. A lot of family members that actually have never seen me play.”