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TJ Oshie wants to be back and the Capitals want him back, but will it happen?

TJ Oshie wants to be back and the Capitals want him back, but will it happen?

T.J. Oshie says he hopes to remain a Washington Capital but knows the team has many difficult decisions to make as another offseason begins sooner than anyone had anticipated.

“Right now, I feel like I'm still part of the team,” Oshie said Friday as the players reported to Kettler Capitals Iceplex one final time for exit interviews and physicals. “I never really get too far ahead of myself. Right now I’m a Capital and feel like that’s where I’ll be. If something changes, it changes.”

The 30-year-old winger has played for Washington the past two seasons but is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Oshie said his agent has had a brief conversation with Caps GM Brian MacLellan but the sides have not engaged in substantive talks yet.

“I love it here,” Oshie said. 

He added: “This group of guys, organization, coaches. It’s been a great fit for me. It’s been a great fit for my family. So, I’d like to come back here.”

MORE CAPITALS: EVERY IMPORTANT QUOTE FROM BREAKDOWN DAY

Asked if he’s excited about the possibility of becoming an unrestricted free agent, Oshie hedged a bit.  

“I don’t like change too much,” he said. 

Oshie has meant a lot to the Caps, both on the ice and in the dressing room, where he’s one of the team’s most popular players. 

He scored a career-high 33 goals in just 68 games, finishing tied with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead. The 30-year-old also blocked more shots (50) than any forward on the team.

When a reporter relayed Oshie’s comments about wanting to stay to Barry Trotz, the coach said, “We love him, too.” 

“T.J. is a big part of our hockey team,” Trotz said. “He’s what you look for in a Washington Capital. You talk about someone who is passionate; T.J. is passionate. Someone who plays with joy; T.J. plays with joy. Someone who has creativity in his game; T.J. has that. Someone who has a lot of competitive spirit in his game; T.J. has that. Can he be in a productive player for us; T.J. can do that. …Hopefully we’ll get something done.”

RELATED: ALEX OVECHKIN EXPLAINS THE TOLL HIS INJURIES TOOK

Oshie finished second on the Caps in postseason scoring behind Nicklas Backstrom, amassing four goals and eight assists in 13 games. The 12 points, in fact, also established a new-career high for Oshie.

But as he unpacks everything that occurred in the Caps’ season-ending loss to the Penguins, it’s going to be the puck he didn’t put into the net that will haunt him. 

“We had a great game plan,” he said. “We knew what we had to do. We had the right players. I felt like we had all the right ingredients. Mentally we just didn’t find a way to win Game 7. …It feels like a bad dream right now.”

Oshie added: “If there’s any moment of the game that I can remember, it’s the rebound on the side [in the second period of Game 7]. It was a tough angle. As I was going to shoot it, I could feel it flipping over my blade. I can still feel the puck going off my stick. …That one is probably going to haunt me for a while.”

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T.J. Oshie is not thinking about what could possibly be his last game as a Cap

T.J. Oshie is not thinking about what could possibly be his last game as a Cap

The Caps face elimination on Saturday as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5. A loss will mean the end of the season and, for T.J. Oshie, possibly the end of his time in Washington.

“That's far, far, far in the back of my mind,” Oshie said Friday after practice. “Right now, we've got some important business to tend to so that's on the backburner.”

RELATED: Trotz not happy with two questionable penalties in Game 4

Oshie is in the final year of a five-year deal that carries a cap hit of $4.175 million. In 2016-17, he scored 58 points and tied Alex Ovechkin for the team lead in goals with 33 despite playing in only 68 games. Re-signing him seems like a no-brainer considering how good he has been in Washington, but given his production and what is considered a thin free agent pool, Oshie is due a significant raise.

With players like Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt and Philipp Grubauer also in need of new contracts as restricted free agents, Washington just may not have the money to bring Oshie back.

So when the Caps take the ice on Saturday, it could very well be the last time Oshie puts on that Capitals uniform.

But he’s not thinking about that. Right now, he’s focused on helping Washington turn their series around against the Penguins and making a deep run.

Said Oshie, “I want to win a Stanley Cup and I want to win it now.”

MOIRE CAPITALS: Q&A: What to make of Ovechkin moving to the third line

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Alex Ovechkin on T.J. Oshie's offensive outburst: 'Ka-ching'

Alex Ovechkin on T.J. Oshie's offensive outburst: 'Ka-ching'

T.J. Oshie sure picked a fine time to enjoy the best year of his career.

He knows it.

And his teammates know it, too.

“It’s huge, especially in the last year of his deal,” captain Alex Ovechkin cracked after Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Flames. “It’s ka-ching.”

Indeed, Oshie’s gonna get paid this summer, whether it’s in Washington or elsewhere.

RELATED: Shattenkirk scores first goal for the Capitals...or did he?

As for the here and now, though, no one on the Caps is scoring goals at a rate close to Oshie's.

The 30-year-old winger scored again Tuesday, upping his season total to 30. That’s the most on the Caps and four more than he scored last year, his previous career-high.

“Obviously happy for Osh [who] get first time 30 goals,” said Ovechkin, who set up Oshie’s tally with a slick pass. “Good for him and good for us.”

How good has Oshie been this season? Consider:

  • He’s the first player other than Ovechkin to score 30 goals in a season for the Caps since 2009-10, when Alexander Semin notched 40 and Nicklas Backstrom potted 33.
  • Oshie has 15 points in his last 14 games (10 goals and five assists).
  • Since Dec. 31, Oshie has 20 goals. That’s six more than any of his teammates. And, oh yeah, he missed six games during that span.

Prior to joining the Caps, Oshie topped the 20-goal plateau just once in seven seasons with the Blues.

“Osh has found the ability to score a little bit more than the last couple of years,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “Every year he’s gotten better and better in terms of his offense, in terms of his goal scoring. When he first got here, I put him with Ovi and Backy and all he wanted to do was give the puck to Ovi and Backy.”

He doesn’t defer anymore, however. And part of the reason for that, Trotz said, is because they have a mutual respect for each other’s ability

“All three guys know they are terrific players,” Trotz said. “They can make things happen. They’ve been good.”

Trotz added: “All three of them are working together. They are making plays. They don’t spend a lot of time in their own zone. They’re responsible defensively. They've got a real good hound mentality around the puck and they're keeping pucks alive. And when they keep pucks alive, they create offense.”

Indeed, over the past four games (3-0-1), Ovechkin, Backstrom and Oshie have combined for six goals and 15 assists.

“It’s clicking right now very well,” Ovechkin said. “I hope it’s going to click in the most important time—the playoffs. Backy is feeling it. Osh is feeling it.”

And soon Oshie is gonna be raking it in, too.

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals douse Flames, 4-2