T.J. Oshie says he hopes to remain a Washington Capital but knows the team has many difficult decisions to make as another offseason begins sooner than anyone had anticipated.
“Right now, I feel like I'm still part of the team,” Oshie said Friday as the players reported to Kettler Capitals Iceplex one final time for exit interviews and physicals. “I never really get too far ahead of myself. Right now I’m a Capital and feel like that’s where I’ll be. If something changes, it changes.”
The 30-year-old winger has played for Washington the past two seasons but is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Oshie said his agent has had a brief conversation with Caps GM Brian MacLellan but the sides have not engaged in substantive talks yet.
“I love it here,” Oshie said.
He added: “This group of guys, organization, coaches. It’s been a great fit for me. It’s been a great fit for my family. So, I’d like to come back here.”
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Asked if he’s excited about the possibility of becoming an unrestricted free agent, Oshie hedged a bit.
“I don’t like change too much,” he said.
Oshie has meant a lot to the Caps, both on the ice and in the dressing room, where he’s one of the team’s most popular players.
He scored a career-high 33 goals in just 68 games, finishing tied with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead. The 30-year-old also blocked more shots (50) than any forward on the team.
When a reporter relayed Oshie’s comments about wanting to stay to Barry Trotz, the coach said, “We love him, too.”
“T.J. is a big part of our hockey team,” Trotz said. “He’s what you look for in a Washington Capital. You talk about someone who is passionate; T.J. is passionate. Someone who plays with joy; T.J. plays with joy. Someone who has creativity in his game; T.J. has that. Someone who has a lot of competitive spirit in his game; T.J. has that. Can he be in a productive player for us; T.J. can do that. …Hopefully we’ll get something done.”
Oshie finished second on the Caps in postseason scoring behind Nicklas Backstrom, amassing four goals and eight assists in 13 games. The 12 points, in fact, also established a new-career high for Oshie.
But as he unpacks everything that occurred in the Caps’ season-ending loss to the Penguins, it’s going to be the puck he didn’t put into the net that will haunt him.
“We had a great game plan,” he said. “We knew what we had to do. We had the right players. I felt like we had all the right ingredients. Mentally we just didn’t find a way to win Game 7. …It feels like a bad dream right now.”
Oshie added: “If there’s any moment of the game that I can remember, it’s the rebound on the side [in the second period of Game 7]. It was a tough angle. As I was going to shoot it, I could feel it flipping over my blade. I can still feel the puck going off my stick. …That one is probably going to haunt me for a while.”