At the end of the season, TJ Oshie, long rumored to be a possible pick in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, said he wanted to finish his career with the Capitals.
“Washington’s where I want to be. I’ve bled and cried here,” Oshie said, pleading not to be left exposed. “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.”
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan wouldn’t guarantee the 34-year-old Oshie would be one of the team’s protected skaters, but did say him being exposed would be unlikely. “We’re gonna try and resist exposing Osh,” he said.
Weeks later, the Kraken hired their first head coach in franchise history, Dave Hakstol, and Oshie’s name was included in the Seattle Kraken’s news story announcing the hire. 🤔
Hakstol was Oshie’s mentor and coach at the University of North Dakota. Here’s what author Bob Condor wrote:
As head coach at the University of North Dakota, Hakstol took his alma mater NCAA Division-1 team to the Frozen Four in his first year and seven times total in 11 seasons, finishing with a 289-143-43 record. During his UND playing days, he captained the squad for two seasons.
The story goes on (emphasis mine):
Hakstol’s credentials in developing players is impressive. The North Dakota program became a pipeline to NHL during his tenure, including such standouts as Chicago’s Jonathan Toews (three-time Stanley Cup winner), Matt Greene (two Cups with Los Angeles), T.J. Oshie (Cup winner with Washington) and Travis Zajac (playing for the New York Islanders in Game 7 of the NYI-Tampa Bay seminal playoff series Friday).
Under his watch, more than UND players went on to play in NHL, totaling nearly 8,500 games. Seventy of his former players reached at least the American Hockey League (AHL). Keep in mind those pro-ready players created a needed to retool season over season as the star players left (seven of his players were named Hobey Baker Award finalists for top collegiate hockey player).
While playing for Hakstol, Oshie scored a team-leading 24 goals (45 points) his freshman year, setting a new school record with nine game-winning goals per Wikipedia. Oshie finished second on the team in points (52) his sophomore year before leaving after his junior year as a point-per-game player.
Hakstol would leave in 2015 after being hired to be head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. The coach would post a 134-101-42 record during three seasons with the Flyers. The team did not win a playoff series under Hakstol and missed the playoffs in one of those seasons.
Next stop: The Emerald City
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) June 24, 2021
Hakstol’s hire immediately got the rumor mill going as The Athletic’s Jeff Paterson suggested that Oshie would be a good fit as captain of the team.
lots of people have suggested TJ Oshie as first captain of the Seattle Kraken. Oshie, a Washington state native, played for Hakstol at UND
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) June 24, 2021
It’s unclear if Hakstol’s hiring is a mere coincidence in this saga or more evidence that Oshie could be left unprotected so the Capitals could get out under the remaining four years of his contract. We’ll find out on July 21 when the Expansion Draft is held!
Screenshot courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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