In the span of about three minutes on Saturday, T.J. Oshie showed Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan why he gave up Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and a third-round draft pick to pry him from the St. Louis Blues over the summer.
With MacLellan watching from his perch behind the net at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Oshie took a centering pass from former Blues teammate Derek Roy, patiently waited for goaltender Justin Peters to go down, then dragged the puck past Peters, scoring into an open net.
A few minutes later, on a 2-on-1 with Marcus Johansson, Oshie forced Peters to commit to a shot, then deftly slid the puck to Johansson at the side of the net for a slam dunk.
This is what the Capitals are hoping to see from Oshie this season, an ability to create and finish with equal ability.
Oshie practiced on a line with Roy and left wing Sean Collins on Saturday and there is a good chance Roy, 32, and Oshie, 28, could stick together for a few preseason games as the Caps evaluate whether Roy is capable of making the roster.
Oshie averaged 20 goals and 28 assists in his last two seasons in St. Louis and he could exceed those totals if he is given ice time on the top line and on the first power play unit with the Capitals.
“I think I’m a quick enough learner where the systems aren’t going to be too hard for me,” he said. “A lot of it is similar, just different terminology. That’s going to be easy and I feel like I’m in great shape, so I’ll be rolling with the punches like everyone else.”
Oshie, who signed dozens of autographs after getting off the ice, said he’s anxious to get his first preseason game with the Capitals under his belt and he’s expected to get that chance Monday night at Verizon Center against the Carolina Hurricanes, when, regardless of the outcome after regulation, the two teams will experiment with five minutes of 3-on-3 play.
Oshie, a shootout specialist, said he’s looking forward to the wide open overtime action.
“There are some skilled players here so I’m just going to try to scratch the lineup for 3-on-3,” Oshie said. “I think it’ll be a cool thing. I think not a lot of games are going to go to shootout, which is unfortunate, but I think it’s going to be fun to watch for the fans and for the players.”
For Oshie, he will be trying to re-write a familiar script in the playoffs. Like the Capitals, the Blues followed impressive regular seasons with premature playoff exits, failing to get past the second round of the playoffs in each of the past four seasons despite finishing no worse than second in the Central Division.
The Caps have not gotten past the second round of the playoffs since going to the Stanley Cup FInal in 1998.
“As far as the post season, hopefully we can make the jump here that we weren’t able to make in St. Louis when I was there,” Oshie said.