Revisiting the Blues’ T.J. Oshie trade and its mixed outcomes

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ST. LOUS – Once a fan favorite on the St. Louis Blues, forward T.J. Oshie rose to the occasion Thursday night and ended up with a hat trick against his former team.

Oshie enjoyed a natural hat trick in the Washington Capitals’ 5-2 victory over the Blues, scoring in each of the three periods. He scored the game’s first goal on a sliding play. He also capped the scoring with an empty-netter.

Now 37 years old, Oshie has only played for two teams in his 16-year NHL career, the Blues and the Capitals. As of last season, he has officially spent more time in a Capitals uniform than a Blues one.

Oshie, a first-round draft pick for the Blues in 2005, debuted three years later and quickly endeared himself to fans based on his name and dynamic style of play. He spent seven seasons with the Blues at the NHL level, averaging around 57 points at a full season’s pace.

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Oshie is one of many players who helped the Blues navigate through a post-lockout rebuild, but his stay in St. Louis wasn’t necessarily the longest. Deeper into the 2010s, the Blues had a tough decision to make as to how Oshie fit into their future plans, both contractually and in team construction.

The trade

On July 2, 2015, the Blues parted ways with Oshie and dealt him to the Washington Capitals. The initial structure of the trade looked like this:

WASHINGTON: Receives T.J. Oshie

ST. LOUIS: Receives Troy Brouwer (forward), Pheonix Copley (goaltender) and a third-round pick (2016 NHL draft)

The Blues and Capitals also took on the contractual obligations for each of the players involved. Washington paid Oshie around $4.2 million for two seasons. The Blues slashed their payroll with Brouwer, only owing him $3.6 million over one year.

Impact for St. Louis

Troy Brouwer, a prior Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, played a full 82 regular-season games, collecting 18 goals and 21 assists. He also proved strong on the forecheck (200 hits), on special teams units, and in leadership capacities.

Brouwer rode some late-season momentum into the playoffs and helped the Blues to their longest playoff run in 15 years at the time. He finished with 13 points (8 goals and 5 assists) in 20 playoff games. He also scored the series-deciding goal in a do-or-die Game 7 first-round matchup against his former team in the Blackhawks.

After the 2015-16 campaign, the Blues had interest in retaining both Brouwer and captain David Backes to maintain a strong physical presence. Both departed in free agency, Brouwer leaving on a four-year, $18 million deal with the Calgary Flames.

Copley reported to the Blues’ former AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, after the Oshie trade. He spent parts of two seasons with AHL Chicago and earned a few quick call-ups to the Blues roster through 2017.

In February of that year, Copley returned to the Capitals in a trade that also sent pending free agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to Washington. The Blues acquired forwards Zach Sanford and Brad Malone in that deal, along with a 2017 first-round and a conditional 2019 second-round pick. The Blues later traded that first-round pick to acquire their current captain Brayden Schenn from the Flyers, though the Capitals did not meet the conditions to deal an additional third-rounder back to St. Louis.

Circling back to the original Blues-Caps deal with Oshie, the initial trade also gave the Blues the rights to Washington’s third-round pick in 2016. Hoping to move up in draft order that year, the Blues ended up dealing that third-round pick to Washington and improving their first-round draft selection from 28th to 26th overall.

With the 26th overall pick of the 2016 draft, the Blues selected forward Tage Thompson. He played 41 games for the Blues at the NHL level during the 2017-18 season. Months later, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan O’Reilly, an instrumental piece of the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup championship and a future captain.

From the Blues perspective, looking at the Oshie trade in terms of the production that Brouwer and Copley provided for St. Louis, there’s certainly more left to be desired. However, the fact that the Blues built up draft capital through the Oshie trade to acquire two future captains and Stanley Cup champions, O’Reilly and Schenn, makes the departure of a one-time fan favorite a little easier to justify.

Impact for Washington

Washington certainly capitalized on this deal, even with the outbound draft picks. For one, Oshie united with one of the NHL’s best scorers of all-time in Alexander Ovechkin.

Oshie also earned bragging rights over many of his former teammates in St. Louis with Washington, helping the Capitals win their first Stanley Cup just one year earlier (2018) than the Blues’ first championship. He impressed during that playoff run with 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) and two-game winning tallies in 24 games.

Leading up to that, Oshie agreed to an eight-year, $46 million contract that took effect in the 2017-18 campaign. His big contract came shortly after a career-high 33 goals in the previous season.

Oshie has embraced large power play roles for several years and is one of Washington’s longest-tenured skaters after Ovechkin.

Now in his ninth season with the Capitals, Oshie has averaged around 56 points at a full season’s pace since the trade, almost identical to his career output with the Blues. His scoring production has slowed down a bit in recent seasons, and he’s dealt with various injuries over the years, but he’s well-embraced on and off the ice with Washington.

“Some guys are just out there for a paycheck, I feel, but not T.J. Oshie,” said Dan Holmi on one edition of the “Locked on Capitals” podcast last year. “He always gives his level best, game in and game out. He is a major asset on the second or third line wing, and he adds a different actor to the power play.”

Oshie has one more season remaining on his eight-year Capitals contract after this year. Oshie and the Capitals head to St. Louis on Saturday for their second consecutive head-to-head game.


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