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One of the many things that were missing from the New Jersey Devils in the 2016-17 season was a goal-scorer who would anchor their first line in complement with the play-making Taylor Hall. In the past couple of weeks, my fellow-blogger Alex Chauvancy (@a_chauvancy23) has wrote about a few forwards which could possibly be candidates to fill in the gaping hole that is the Devils’ forward core. Many believe TJ Oshie is the most enticing option of the forwards in the 2017 free-agency class after a career year. Even with his great performance a question arises: is his success sustainable?
Do not be fooled by all the talk that TJ Oshie has only had one year of extreme success. Over his 9-year NHL career, he is a career 0.70 P/GP and has a career shooting percentage of 13.4% (15th of active NHL-players). Reiterating the idea of Oshie being a solid goal-scorer is the fact whenever he is on the ice, there are usually goals being scored. In six of the past nine years, Oshie’s had a goals for% of 59.5% or higher. The skill is certaintly there, and even if he cannot duplicate his career year where he put up a line of 33 goals, 23 assists, totaling 56 points, he’s always been a threat to put up 20 goals and 50 points. So why be so wary about signing someone of Oshie’s caliber? One word: timing.
TJ Oshie’s career year came at the perfect time in that he is looking for a new contract. In a free-agent market that is so lackluster in terms of forwards, Oshie will be cashing in. As explained in one of our previous free-agent profiles, the Devils have approximately $21 million to spend come July 1st. What’s so dangerous about signing Oshie is the factor of overpaying him. Don’t get me wrong, he was worth the deal that paid him over $20 million over 5 years with St. Louis in the 2012-13 season. After the success Oshie has found after signing that deal, and certainly after the success he endured in Washington, he is due for a significant raise. This pay day is the thing that may turn many Devils fans away from the idea of signing TJ Oshie come July 1st.
What it comes down to with Oshie is what portion of the rebuild Ray Shero believes the Devils are in. Oshie is now approaching age 31 and is due for a huge payday. If Shero believes the Devils are a couple additions away from becoming a playoff team within the next couple years, Oshie would be great if he was to sign a contract that mirrors the one that current Devils forward Michael Cammalleri signed in 2014-15 offseason, which paid him 5 million annually for 5 years. However, if Oshie is aiming for first-line superstar money, 6.5-7.5-million AAV, which is a huge possibility I would steer clear of him and save that money for bigger needs such as a stud defenseman (i.e. Shattenkirk). There is always next year to land forwards to help the Devils rebuild, and there are also alternative routes in obtaining forwards that would help the Devils such as a trade. The big theme of the offseason for Shero and the Devils will be to avoid overpaying for forwards and signing someone to a contract they will end up regretting in the years to come.