The near unanimous blogosphere call for the execution......eeeerrrrr.........trade of T.J. Oshie, like many other acts of mass fear and panic, reminds me of the mob charging Dr. Frankenstein's castle. Fearful citizens light their torches and proceed up the hill chanting their hostile intent led by the stern faced police captain.
Blues management has taken on the police captain role. They chant, "Big Changes. Big Changes," knowing the citizenry will point their collective fanaticism at the veteran players. Specifically, management must know they are throwing T.J. Oshie to the mob because he is the one that publicly complained about Hitchcock. This medieval witch hunter is not based on facts or statistics. For Armstrong it might be CYA, but for those of us that see it for what it is must defend the castle.
Quit stoning Oshie.
Stating something as a fact does not make it true. The way I am hearing local radio and reading local writers, Armstrong believes Oshie is getting Big Money and he is not earning his keep. Neither of those chants are supported by facts.
The first chant-Oshie getting Big Money-would be true if you compared him with working stiffs or surgeons. But this is the NHL. His salary cap hit (SCH) for 2014-15 was $4,175,000 making him the 102nd ranked forward. Considering there are 180 Top 6 forwards in the NHL, his SCH appears tame. There are 37 forwards with a SCH at $6 million or more. In other words, more than one-third of the forwards paid more than Oshie made 50% more than him. That's what I call Big Money.
The second chant-Oshie is not earning his keep-is fiction. His 55 points ranked him 58th among all forwards. Not bad for a guy getting paid as the 102nd. But he looks far more productive than nearly all of the forwards in his SCH range. There were 33 forwards with a SCH in the $4.25-3.70 million range last year. Here is the chart of the top 5 in the SCH range in points scored divided by million dollars of SCH divided by games played (P$GP):
Player Points Scored/$MM SCH/Games Played
Jiri Hudler .244
Jakub Voracek .232
Ryan Johansen .216
Patric Hornqvist .188
T.J. Oshie .183
The top three earned far more than their keep. 2015-16 is the last year on the contracts for Hudler and Voracek. They will join the Big Money Club for 2016-17 season and say good-bye to the Oshie SCH Range. One or both could get traded next year if the Flames or Flyers feel they can't afford their stars.
Johansen's SCH story is fit for Twilight Zone. He was a restricted free agent prior to last season. His contract negotiations were very contentious. One writer said the situation "became personal". Johansen's reps wanted Big Money while Columbus management wanted full benefit from a salary system that deliberately underpays young talent while squandering cash on marginal veteran talent. Johansen appeared ready to play in Europe as his holdout kept him out of preseason camp. An agreement was reached 48 hours before the picked dropped to open the season. He signed a $12 million/3 year deal. The first hook is that he would be paid $3 million the first two years and $6 million the 3rd. He would remain a restricted free agent when the contract expires. The second hook is that the team would take a SCH of $4 million each of the three years. The benefit to Johansen is that Columbus will have to make a 2017-18 qualified offer close to $7 million to keep him. Thank you for entering the Twilight Zone of NHL Big Money.
Hudler, Voracek and Johansen are great players that outperformed their contracts. Patric Hornqvist did not. Skating with the likes of Crosby and Malkin, he merely earned his keep. That was not enough for the Penguins as they missed the playoffs. Much like the Blues, management promises big changes and unlike the Blues, they hired a new coach.
Apparently, Oshie is Hornqvist's evil twin. They had almost identical P$GP, but Oshie expressed his concern about Hitchcock's coaching. This has been blown up like an episode of Bad News Barnes On Ice. Oshie earned his keep. He did not outperform his contract on the ice as the top three, but he also did not underperform. This is not to say everyone, including Oshie, was rooting for him to be Brett Hull. It just did not happen.
There is another aspect to earning keep. TJ is the face of the Blues. His sweater is a top seller and his likeness is on most of the advertising, including Post-Dispatch beat writer Jeremy Rutherford's chat page. He is the heart-throb of teenage girls and the boy next door. He is very active in community activities and responsive to his place as a role-model.
TJ has made the Blues money because of who he is as well as what he does on the ice.
Armstrong decided publicly standing by his players was not an option. He could have easily stopped after saying, ‘we win and lose as a team'. I don't mind him ending saying, ‘we will look for ways to improve'. But the "big changes" and negative references about the core player does not translate to "Our Town. Our Team." Every player in every sport knows trades are part of the business. Armstrong could still do whatever he wanted to do. But allowing-maybe participating-in the disinformation about a man that has done so much for the organization and the city is rotten to his core.
Oshie did not make Big Money by NHL standards and was more productive than most forwards in his situation. He belly-flopped with his teammates against the Wild. But he was the guy that scored the gritty goal late in second period of Game 6 to give the Blues life. There is no factual basis to single him out for exile. He is not the monster. But if Armstrong's recent player trades are an indication, Blues fans should be careful who you follow to the castle.