This is the next in a series of stories ranking the 24 most important players on the 2011-12 St. Louis Blues.
No. 7 T.J. Oshie
If you talk to Timothy Oshie Sr. (aka Coach Osh), you will learn a lot about one of the most exciting players on the team - his son T.J. Oshie.
First, you will find out that the coach is a packrat. He has in storage sticks and pucks and pads and helmets, skates and gloves and photos and stat sheets covering Oshie's entire career, all the way back to his Mighty Mite days. The coach knew his son was special at an early age. The kid was a scoring machine, unstoppable even against bigger and older competition.
In Oshie's last season at Warroad High School in Minnesota, he scored 37 goals and 99 points in 31 games. He notched more than a point a game each of his three seasons at North Dakota. In the NHL his career high in points is 48 which came two years ago when he played 76 games. He's not scored 20 goals in any of his three NHL seasons. His career has seemed on the edge of exploding for some time. Unfortunately at the end of last year, it was in a really negative way.
In the final couple weeks of the season, Oshie didn't show up for a mandatory practice. It was a big whiff when the Blues were out of playoff contention but the coach and front office were watching how players dealt with adversity and who was demonstrating they wanted a job on the team next year. And Oshie literally slept through one of those opportunities. He was suspended for two games with pay but he donated that money to charity. Everyone said all was forgotten and would soon be in the past. And then the Blues drug their feet in getting Oshie signed as a restricted free agent and only gave him a one-year contract. Like maybe he had something to prove this season.
If there's anyone on the Blues roster that I don't need to describe his play, it's Oshie. His combination of speed, desire to play a physical game, his shooting ability and in flashes last year his passing makes him a singular player on this roster. No one can do all the things he can do. That's earned him a ton of accolades and teenage girl fans. It's also given him expectations that maybe difficult to live up to. He can't be everything for this team, but it sure looks like he tries.
Near the end of the year, I think he was trying to focus when his contributions and influence seemed to really push Patrik Berglund to be a better player. The lanky Swede always looked like he was somewhere else mentally with his facial expressions and body language. He had the tools but hadn't put it together. And then Oshie started feeding him the puck and pushing him to take his game to the next level. And there were stretches where Berglund dominated. That doesn't happen without Oshie's influence.
If Oshie can continue to push his linemates while staying healthy and rounding out his own game, he could be one of the most important players on this team. If.