By Ian Oland
On Breakdown Day, Brian MacLellan said TJ Oshie was “a big part” of the Capitals’ organization but was unwilling to say if the team would protect the star winger during the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.
During a recent radio interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant & Danny, MacLellan went much further and commented on Oshie’s possible exposure in the draft. The Capitals general manager qualified it as “unlikely,” but he still gave the organization some wiggle room to change its mind later in the summer.
“We’re gonna try and resist exposing Osh,” MacLellan said according to a transcription by Chris Lingebach. “I think he’s a big part of what we’ve done and he’s had a good year here. He’s a big part of our locker room. He’s a big part of our on-ice team. He brings energy every day. He brings a compete level. He makes everybody better that’s around him.
“And I think it’s gonna be a difficult decision if we ever chose to go that way, which I think is unlikely,” MacLellan added. “We’d really miss him if we did. I mean there would be a big hole to fill and it would be tough to fill it.”
Oshie, who grew up in Washington state and is a huge Seattle Seahawks fan, has seemingly been linked to the Kraken since signing an eight-year, $46 million extension with the Capitals in June 2017. Four years into the deal, Oshie has become a big part of the Capitals’ core, a fan favorite, and outperformed expectations and his cap hit during a time when most players have age regression.
During the 2020-21 season, Oshie scored 22 goals in 53 games and was on pace to score 34 times – a career-high. He was also on pace to tally 66 points (43p in 53g), another career-high. Oshie has scored 20 or more goals in five of his six seasons in Washington.
Oshie said in his final interview that he wanted to retire a Capital and that being a captain in the NHL – what he’d possibly be if he was acquired by Seattle – was not something that interested him.
“I guess I’ve given thought to the possibility (of being selected by Seattle),” Oshie said. “My allegiance is here. I’ve done, I feel like, as much as I can to prove this is where I want to be. I’ve got family out there. That’s great, but Washington’s where I want to be. I’ve bled and cried here. This is where I want to stay long term. People can speculate and make assumptions about what I want to do or what I like. People bring up the ‘C.’ That stuff is not that important to me. This is where I want to be with my buddies, with my family. My kids are growing up here. This is where I love to play hockey.
“I signed an eight-year deal here because this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my career and retire here,” Oshie added.
The Capitals will be able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie or eight skaters and one goalie for the Expansion Draft. The Capitals ended the 2020-21 season with no cap space and their biggest priorities this offseason are re-signing Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Samsonov. The salary cap is expected to remain static for the next few seasons.
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