St. Louis Blues Offseason 2015: Free Agency Recap Part 2 Of 3


The St. Louis Blues roster saw a major change on July 2, when T.J. Oshie was traded to the Washington Capitals in exchange for winger Troy Brouwer, goalie Phoenix Copley, and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Oshie joined the Blues as a rookie for the 2008-2009 season and quickly became a fan-favorite.

The addition of Brouwer will help the Blues prepare for the playoffs

Some loved Oshie for his ability to deke past a whole team on his way to the goal. Others admired him for his physical style of play. In all honesty though, Oshie gained a lot of fans early on partly due to his good looks and his long blonde hair.

During his rookie year, Oshie became part of an up and coming group affectionately called “the kid line.” Oshie skated with fellow rookie Patrick Berglund and second-year player David Perron on and off for several years until the line was broken up for good in the summer of 2013 when Perron was traded to the the Edmonton Oilers for Magnus Paajarvi.

Oshie may have only been one-third of the kid line, but he certainly continued to excel when it was broken up. The season following Perron’s trade, Oshie set personal bests with 21 goals and 39 assists in 79 regular season games.

St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) and T.J. Oshie (74) continued to play on a line together despite the loss of David Perron. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

During an Olympic break in that 2013-2014 season, Oshie continued to prove that he was on top of his game. Blues fans had known for a long time that Oshie is stellar at shootouts, but in a preliminary round game against Russia, Oshie converted 4 of 6 attempts in the shootout to clinch the win for the USA.

Over night Oshie went from a successful Blues player to an international star. USA Oshie t-shirts sold-out online within hours of his performance.

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With one of the biggest names in hockey, and another budding superstar by the name of Vladimir Tarasenko playing his second year in the NHL, 2013-2014 looked like the best chance the Blues had at a Stanley Cup in years.

Unfortunately, the Blues managed to get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs yet again. In the 5 games the Blues did play, Oshie scored twice without adding any assists.

This continued the bad play that Oshie consistently displayed in the playoffs throughout his Blues tenure.

Dating back to the 2008-2009 playoffs, Oshie had 5 goals and 4 assists through 30 playoff games. Those numbers don’t shout out that Oshie is a top-tier player who deserves to be a leader on the team. Numbers like that scream at management that maybe this player isn’t suited for playoff hockey.

After all, there is no shootout in the playoffs.

Oshie is a good player who just hasn’t been able to turn the corner and become a great one, let alone a superstar. He has all the tools to help a team win games, but fails to show up when it counts. Sadly, more often than not his specialties help a team earn an extra point in the shootout instead of grabbing the win before it goes to overtime.

Let’s look back at what made the fans fall in love with Oshie.

His physical style of play

Oshie can throw his body around with the best of them, but opposing players are much more aware of his strength now. Due to the increased awareness, reverse checks like the one in the video above are a lot less common in his current game than when he first joined the league.

His stick handling skills

The video below shows just how good Oshie was at holding onto the puck and skating through the opposing team. That goal was voted the goal of the year in 2009. Unfortunately for Oshie, in the seasons since 2009, I remember him a lot more for skating straight into the opposition and losing the puck than for skating around them.

The third and fourth reasons I previously listed were his good looks and long blonde hair.

Oshie may still have the good looks, but he no longer dyes his hair blonde, and he is now happily married to the mother of his daughter.

The Oshie that Blues fans fell in love with is still there, but he isn’t the player that the Blues need moving forward. Blues fans are ready for a Stanley Cup and Oshie is not the playoff producer that the team is looking for.

That is where Troy Brouwer enters the picture.

Brouwer has been in the NHL since 2006. Brouwer played with the Chicago Blackhawks before joining the Capitals and eventually being traded to the Blues.

Brouwer can score in the shootout, but he will never be the shootout star that Oshie is.

This is a good thing.

The Blues are looking to win their games in regulation moving forward. Giving up a point in the standings so you can win in a skills competition does not help you prepare for the playoffs.

The addition of Brouwer will help the Blues prepare for the playoffs.

Troy Brouwer (20) reacts after scoring the winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the shootout period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Brouwer has been to the playoffs on six separate occasions, playing a total of 78 games. In those 78 games, he managed to score 7 goals and add 12 assists.

Some of you might note that Brouwer actually has fewer

points per game than Oshie in the playoffs. Well you would be right, but only barely. And the one thing that Brouwer can contribute that Oshie can’t is his experience.

With over twice as many playoff games, Brouwer has played in high-scoring affairs and in low-scoring battles. In 2010 Brouwer played in 19 of the Blackhawks 22 playoff games on way to winning the Stanley Cup, picking up 4 goals and 4 assists along the way.

Brouwer does not have the stand-out, star-making moment that Oshie does, but he does have his name in the Stanley Cup. Ask any hockey player if they would rather win in jersey sales or in the playoffs, I bet you only get one answer.

Brouwer played in all 14 playoff games for the Capitals this season, before losing game 7 of the second round. While his 3 assists last postseason was far from record breaking, anything that will help the Blues get past the first round is a step up for me.

I appreciate all that Oshie has done for the Blues and I wish him the best of luck with the Capitals, but I am glad that we made this trade.

This deal was truly beneficial to everyone.

Brouwer and Oshie essentially trade spots on teams that both have a chance at contending immediately.

Oshie gets to play in Washington D.C. where his team USA heroics might shine brighter for a while longer, and the Blues get a player who has won it all.

This is the fourth article in a series analyzing the winners and losers of the contract changes that affected the St. Louis Blues this offseason. Check back for the fifth and final article later this week.

Next: St. Louis Blues: Top Five Vladimir Tarasenko Goals

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