The T.J. Oshie sweepstakes officially opened when the Washington Capitals lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old right winger will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and signing with the Dallas Stars could be the ideal fit for both the player and the team.
But can he get along with Ken Hitchcock?
There were rumors and reports that Oshie and Hitchcock bumped heads in St. Louis and that ultimately led to the player’s departure via trade. Hitchcock has maintained that he and Oshie had a good relationship and the player has said all the correct things since his move to the Capitals.
However, it’s still hard to gauge Oshie’s true feelings on the situation and a couple sources close to situation in St. Louis have their doubts that Oshie would ever willingly sign to play for Hitchcock again.
So signing Oshie becomes a two-part process. Can the Stars sell Oshie on the team in Dallas? And can Hitchcock extend an olive branch and close old wounds with the forward?
The first part of the sales pitch sounds pretty good for both sides.
Oshie could be the final piece to a dynamic top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. He’s a finisher who had 33 goals last season with Washington, and he’s an efficient two-way forward that would make it easier to play Benn and Seguin head-to-head against top-level competition each night.
Oshie is also one of the elite shootout specialists in the NHL -- just ask the Russians -- and that could be a nice asset for a Stars team that’s been below average in the skills competition (11-12 record) over the past four seasons.
The money could also work out.
Oshie made $4.175 million this past season and will probably want a raise, but will still be in the ballpark Dallas could afford. At this moment, the Stars already have $54 million committed against the $73 million salary cap for next season according to CapFriendly.com.
The Stars still have to sign restricted free agents Esa Lindell, Radek Faksa, and Brett Ritchie -- likely a total endeavour close to $4 million -- and goalie Ben Bishop will likely get close to $6 million against the cap after the Stars traded for his rights earlier this week.
Dallas is going to get some cap relief by buying out the final year of Antti Niemi’s contract, a savings of $3 million for next season, giving the Stars roughly $12 million to play with to sign Oshie, add a top-four defender for close to $4 million per season, and fill out the rest of the roster with cheap and hungry prospects ready to make the jump (Jason Dickinson, Remi Elie, or Gemel Smith).
The Stars could have even more room to work if they find a way to trade Cody Eakin and his $3.85 million cap hit before the expansion draft in an effort to protect Antoine Roussel.
Look at it this way: the Stars are essentially taking the money spent on Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million) and using it in a more effective way on a younger player that’s still in the prime of his career.
So that brings us to back to that key question about and Oshie potentially suiting up in victory green.
What about Hitch?
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro.