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Free Agent Spotlight: T.J. Oshie would fill a need for the Hurricanes, but would not come cheap

Should the Canes swing for the fences and try to pick up the top free-agent forward on the market?

Washington Capitals v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Six Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes need an additional goal scorer. T.J. Oshie is a goal scorer, and a clutch one at that. Similar in many ways to his teammate with the Washington Capitals, former Hurricane Justin Williams, Oshie has finished each of his two years with Washington no worse than second in team goal scoring, no small feat on a team that includes Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom among others in its ranks.

He may be the most sought-after free agent in 2017, and will command top dollar, but is it a cost the Hurricanes should consider paying?

Tale of the Tape

  • Age: 30
  • 2016-17 season: 33 goals, 23 assists, 56 points in 68 games
  • Career (STL, WAS): 169 goals, 248 assists, 417 points in 591 games
  • 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 51.7% Corsi for, 104.1 PDO, 53.4% zone starts, 63.8% goals for
  • 2016-17 Salary: $4,500,000
  • Contract ending: 5 years, $20.875 million, $4.175 million AAV, signed July 19, 2012 (RFA)

Making the Case

Oshie is essentially a guaranteed 50-point scorer every year. He’s hit that total each of the past four years, to add to goal totals of 26 and 33 while with the Capitals. In the past four years, only two players have tallied 50 points in a season for the Hurricanes: Jeff Skinner three times, and Eric Staal twice.

On top of that, Oshie’s goal totals would have placed second to Skinner each of the past two years, and would have been at least five ahead of anyone else on the Canes’ roster. For a team that’s finished 27th, 27th and 20th in Bill Peters’ three years in charge, Oshie would be a godsend for the Canes’ offensive attack.

Imagine a world where Oshie, Skinner and Sebastian Aho are the Canes’ top three options on the wing. Whether the fourth slot is filled by Teuvo Teravainen, Elias Lindholm, or someone else at that point doesn’t really matter. All of a sudden, the perennially offensively-challenged Canes would have some serious firepower.

On the Other Hand...

As the top free agent on the market, Oshie can essentially name his price, and other offensive black holes would likely have more money to offer. Ron Francis has shown that he will shell out the money for the right player in the right situation, going to ownership if necessary to authorize a budget-buster, but given what Oshie will command elsewhere it seems unlikely that the Canes will want to play ball at that price.

This is Oshie’s big chance to cash in. He’s likely to get a too-long, too-expensive contract from someone. It beggars belief that “someone” would be the Hurricanes.

Similar to the Gabriel Landeskog situation, Oshie might be an odd fit. The Canes need a center, not necessarily a wing, and why would Francis pay that kind of money for a square peg to plug into a round hole?

The Verdict

Oshie’s offensive prowess would be a welcome addition, but he isn’t a perfect match for the Hurricanes. At the asking price he’ll command on the open market, he’s likely to be someone else’s overpaid contract headache six or seven years down the road. That won’t be the Hurricanes, who should look elsewhere for scoring help.