T.J. Oshie is having himself quite the playoffs - going into tonight’s game three in Washington he has seven goals and ten assists.
He stands a very good chance of being yet another beloved former Blue with his name on the Stanley Cup, and Blues fans are either resigned to this fact or irked by it. Why do players get success after they leave? Why isn’t that success available here? If only the Blues could’ve held on to Oshie, maybe they could have some of that success?
Let’s dispel with this notion that one player equals success. The Blues have Vladimir Tarasenko, and now they have Brayden Schenn. That’s awesome. But in 2015, when Oshie was dealt to the Caps, the Blues had Tarasenko. The Caps? Alexander Ovechkin, Nikolas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuzentsov, Tom Wilson (who is a chud, but an effective one), and outstanding goaltender Brayden Holtby. They were a better constructed team than the Blues. They still are a better constructed team than the Blues.
How then, is it surprising that upon the trade, Oshie put up career numbers? This season, Oshie reverted to normal after his shooting percentage cooled off (23.1% is hard to keep up) - he went from 33 goals to 18. But he’s still more successful in DC than he was in St. Louis.
This isn’t on Oshie, it’s on the Blues. When Oshie was traded off in 2015 as the sacrificial lamb of a dysfunctional locker room (reportedly) - the lamb of culture, I guess - the team needed a swift kick in the ass that dealing off one of their better players wasn’t going to fix. It was a beneficial situation for Oshie - being traded to a functional team - and a situation that the Blues squandered in the long-run. As Jeff Gordon puts it:
Other than salary cap savings and the right to pick Thompson over another prospect, the Blues didn’t gain lingering benefit from that trade.
Did the Blues make amazing use of those cap savings?
No, since general manager Doug Armstrong used his payroll flexibility to keep Patrik Berglund (five years, $19.25 million), lock in Alexander Steen (four years, $23 million) and regain Vladimir Sobotka (three years, $10.5 million). The returns on those contracts have been moderate at best.
So, it could have been beneficial for the Blues to trade Oshie had they gotten a long-term return on him, which they did not. It could have been beneficial for Oshie to stay with the Blues had they made demonstrable efforts to improve, and if they did that during Oshie’s tenure is debatable, which also makes it debatable as to if they would’ve had they kept him.
The Blues leaving David Perron unprotected was a good thing, for Perron and for the team. The Blues dealing Oshie was a good thing for him, but it maintained the Blues’ status quo at best.
You could make the argument that keeping Oshie would’ve been beneficial to the Blues, but you can’t make the argument that Oshie would’ve taken the Blues to the Stanley Cup Final. It’s a team effort, and that effort hasn’t been there. On that you can lay the responsibility at the feet of Doug Armstrong and a collective of players. You can’t blame Oshie.