One of the biggest dramas headed into the Expansion Draft was if the Washington Capitals would protect TJ Oshie. Oshie, 34, had just completed the fourth season of an eight-year contract where he has a cap hit of $5.75 million per season. With NHL teams stuck dealing with a flat cap over the next few seasons, it made sense if the Capitals wanted to make the Osh Babe available – no matter how painful. Instead, the beloved forward had one of his best seasons as a pro, forcing Capitals GM Brian MacLellan to make him one of 11 players on the team’s protected list.
On Thursday, after the first on-ice day of Capitals Training Camp, Oshie said he was 98 percent sure he would remain in DC. The two percent of uncertainty came after the Seattle Kraken announced their head coach.
“When I saw [Dave Hakstol] went there… I was like hmmm,” Oshie said laughing. Hakstol was Oshie’s head coach in college and the person who helped the winger develop into a star.
“This is my home now,” a grateful Oshie said. “This is where my kids have grown up. This is where my kids have friends in school. I have friends away from the rink which I never really had from grade school all the way through St. Louis. Never had many friends away from the rink and now I have a bunch of close ones that I’ve met just from dads of families of preschools that have grown up with our kids. This is home now. It would have been really sad to leave. I’m glad I’m here.”
Oshie said he was less scared about his own fate and more inquisitive about which of his teammates were staying.
“When I saw the list, I was more interested in who else was being protected,” Oshie revealed. “Who on the backend was being protected? What other forward — you can kind of go through the list and see who you expect to be on there.”
The Capitals ended up losing young goaltender Vitek Vanecek to the Kraken, but only for a few weeks. Seattle traded the Czech netminder back to Washington after they signed Vezina finalist Philipp Grubauer as an unrestricted free agent.
Sorry, Vitelli … Osh has spoken 🤌 pic.twitter.com/qmOv2XRuWW
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 23, 2021
“I think it was really tough to lose Vitek there,” Oshie said smiling. “It was great to get him back. I feel bad he’s going to have to put money on the board when we go to Seattle now because he was technically part of the organization.”
The media laughed.
“Hey, he was there!” Oshie said. “He was there. I used to have to put up in Vancouver because it was close to Seattle. I know. Different country. Blame [Keith] Tkachuk for that.”
As for Seattle finally having an NHL franchise, Oshie was very excited. The right-winger spent most of his childhood in Washington state. He is a huge Seattle Seahawks fan.
“It’s going to be cool. It’s going to be awesome,” Oshie said. “It’s going to save my family the drive of going up to Vancouver. Ticket prices look a little high right now so it’s going to be an expensive game for me I think. It’s going to be great. I’m so happy for the people in the area. It’s a great sports town. Not only Seattle, but all the cities surrounding it. I’m very happy for them. Very happy for Coach Hakstol. He was my coach in college. I think he’s going to bring a winning, hard-working culture to Seattle. I think they’re going to be a good team. I’m looking forward to playing there in front of my family — a lot of family members that actually have never seen me play.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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