We’ve been looking at lot at NHL teams and their plans for the NHL Expansion draft that will bring the Seattle Kraken into the league as the NHL’s 32nd team. In some cases, decisions for NHL clubs are easy. In other cases, the choices are more difficult, mainly because clubs are bound to lose good players. When it comes to the Washington Capitals, the decision should be easy, but there’s a chance the team will be prodded into a bad decision and be their own worst enemy when all is said and done.
As per a recent article by Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic, the Capitals should leave veteran forward T.J. Oshie exposed. And, there’s a better-than decent chance they will. That is, of course, unless the team barely misses out this season as a Stanley Cup contender.
El-Bashir writes, “Whenever anyone discusses the Caps and the upcoming expansion draft, Oshie’s name is at the top of the list.” In explaining why the Kraken would be interested, he notes that he’s a local guy to the Washington/Seattle area, is a heart-and-soul player and a productive natural leader. As for why the Capitals would make him available? It all comes down to age and contract.
Oshie will be 34 later this month and will have four years at $5.75 million per remaining on the deal after this season. Although he’s still a productive player, it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll be able to play at a high level due to his age and relentless playing style.
Essentially, it’s an expansion draft selection that could work for both sides. The Kraken get a veteran leader good for 45-55 points and Washington clears out a bit of an older player with a sizeable cap hit.
The Caps Have a Potential Problem
El-Bashir goes on to say that, “It’s no sure thing he’ll be made available.” He suggests that if the Capitals come up short this season, GM Brian MacLellan might feel like he should take one more shot at another run. The best way to keep that window open is to keep a player like Oshie.
Unfortunately, that’s not a great long-term plan for the Capitals who are going to be tight against the salary cap, will be finalizing the team’s last deal with Alex Ovechkin and needs to invest in younger talent. El-Bashir writes, “Protecting Oshie might not be a prudent move, at least not long term.”
Instead, the Caps might be better protecting a player like Richard Panik who is among the best of the team’s bottom-six forwards and comes in at a much more affordable price.
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