TJ Oshie came to DC and gave the Caps exactly what they wanted when they acquired him: a top-six forward. Even the most skeptical observer would be hard pressed to be unsatisfied with Oshie’s 2015-16 season, unless of course that observer had the irrational expectation that Oshie was magically going to become a 30-goal scorer when he arrived in DC.
|18.9||time on ice per game|
|52.2||5v5 shot-attempt percentage|
|62.8||5v5 goal percentage|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2015-16 season. A short description of each chart:
While there’s no definitive, objective definition of what a top-six forward is in the NHL, there are some methods, both with stats and the eye-test, that can help give an idea of where a player should be slotted in an NHL lineup. One way to do this is to look at certain stats and see what percentile the player falls in. It’s a slightly crude method, but the thinking is that any player that falls in the top 50% in a category ranks among top-six forwards, while any below in the bottom 50% ranks as a bottom-six forward. Of course, there are exceptions, multiple stats need to be considered, and context is always key. With that in mind, here’s where Oshie ranked this past season in a few key categories among forwards who played at least 500 minutes at 5-on-5:
Oshie comfortably performs at a top-six level. This is what he was brought in to do and therefore, regardless of what any of the three assets dealt to St. Louis end up doing, the trade for Oshie was a success for the Caps.
Playoff Oshie also proved himself to be an integral part of the Caps. Lack of playoff production was one of the knocks on Oshie during his time in St. Louis, but Oshie’s performance during his first playoffs in DC was a rousing individual success and helped show why one should be wary of making sweeping conclusions about a player based off performance in a small sample of playoff games. Having posted nine points in 30 playoff games coming into this season, Oshie silenced all the critics about his ability to perform in the playoffs by posting 10 points in 12 games this spring for the Caps.
Having not watched Oshie with much regularity before this season, my impression of him was he was a talented top-six forward who had an edge to his game. Much like music fans might fail to understand how edgy Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy is if they only know a radio hit such as “Betterman,” I severely underestimated the edge with which Oshie plays the game of hockey. I’m going to go all subjective eye-test on you and say Oshie is one of the most relentless puck pursuers I’ve ever seen. His effort and will on the forecheck, ability to win one-on-one (or two) battles, and pursuit of loose pucks is unparalleled on this Caps team and rivaled by hardly anyone around the league. If the Caps are in a battle for a loose puck, Oshie is the guy I want going after it. Below is an example of Oshie’s complete unwillingness to ever give up on a play. Watch him gather in the puck off of the blocked shot and chip it with one hand to Backstrom and he’s falling to the ice. Unreal. Textbook Osh.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 2, 2016
Oshie’s first season in DC was a success on the individual level and I’m glad he’s back for at least one more season. What about you?
Read more: Japers’ Rink
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