With the 2020 NHL All-Star Game right around the corner, the NHL is allowing fans to vote one additional player from each division on the Last Men In Ballot into the game. One player from each of the 31 teams has the opportunity to join their All-Star teammates in St. Louis.
Headlining the ballot for the Metropolitan Division is Washington Capitals’ forward T.J. Oshie. If nominated, he would join teammates John Carlson and Braden Holtby on the ice and play under head coach Todd Reirden. Despite being voted as the Metropolitan Division captain, Alex Ovechkin declined to attend in order to rest for the final stretch of the regular season.
Due to his performance and impact this season, there is simply no one else in the Metropolitan Division on the ballot more deserving of the vote than Oshie.
Oshie’s Performance This Season
Oshie is one of Washington’s most important, impactful, and exciting players. He is an incredible all-around player, and he is a leader who is extremely vocal and leads by example.
No. 77 generates impressive offensive numbers at even strength and on the power play. He is tied for second in goalscoring on the team with linemate Jakub Vrana with 18 goals through 45 games—eight goals behind Ovechkin with 26—and he has the team’s second-most power-play goals with seven. Two of his goals have been game-winners.
Oshie is also a gifted passer and has recorded 15 assists to add to his 33 points this season. At this rate, he is on track to finish the season with the second-most goals on the team for a fourth season since arriving in D.C. five years ago, and he is on pace to tie his career-high in goals (33) and points (60).
He has been on a hot streak in recent games. Oshie tallied six points in six games going into the Wednesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, including a two-goal performance in a 6-1 win over the Ottawa Senators the previous night to record the 28th multi-point game of his career. He also scored the game-tying goal with 14.2 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime in the Capitals’ 5-4 comeback win over the San Jose Sharks.
Oshie is also world-renowned for his unmatched puck-handling skills and creativity, especially while in one-on-one situations and shootouts. He earned the nickname “Captain America” during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia when he scored on four of six shootout attempts to help the United States defeat Russia. In fact, he ranks third among active NHL players for the highest shootout scoring percentage, converting 51.8-percent of his 85 attempts.
He put his puck-handling skills on display when he embarrassed the Boston Bruins’ defense with this incredible solo goal on Dec. 11, easily one of the best of his career:
On top of his offensive production, Oshie also backchecks, puts his body on the line to block shots, and never shies away from laying the body and making his presence known. He has blocked 39 shots and registered 57 hits this season, justifying the claim that he is a true all-around player and brings excitement to the game.
Considering all of this, it is no wonder why “Oshbabe” is a fan favorite and has been nominated for this year’s All-Star Game.
Assessing the Competition
To begin, no Metropolitan Division player on the ballot has more goals than Oshie. New York Rangers’ center Mika Zibanejad is a close second with 17 goals. Only Carolina Hurricanes’ forward Teuvo Teravainen has more points (41) than Oshie, who is tied for second with Zibanejad with 33 points. Every player besides Columbus Blue Jackets’ winger Nick Foligno has tallied more assists than Oshie this campaign, but”Osh” and Zibanejad are, without a doubt, the two best all-around players from the division seeking a spot in the game.
Teravainen might seem like the easy choice when looking at his points, but the majority of them have come from his 33 assists. Oshie has managed to produce a near-equal number of goals and assists this season, which is an extremely impressive feat. Zibanejad’s case is also strong because he is a bright spot on a struggling Rangers team and performing like Oshie, but Oshie has managed to shine on the Capitals’ second line in the shadows of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
First All-Star Game
Believe it or not, T.J. Oshie has never been selected to participate in the NHL All-Star Game throughout his 12-year career—not even during his seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues despite finishing with the second-most points on the team for three seasons. However, it begins to make sense when considering the Capitals’ star-studded roster which is filled from top to bottom with current and potential All-Star talent.
Here’s a look at the Capitals’ All-Stars who were nominated to this season:
- Alex Ovechkin: seven-time All-Star, eight-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard winner, best goalscorer of the 2010s
- 2019-20 season: 26 goals, 16 assists, 42 points
- John Carlson: two-time All-Star, 2020 Norris Trophy frontrunner
- 2019-20 season: 13 goals, 41 assists, 54 points (leads team in scoring)
- Braden Holtby: five-time All-Star, 2016 Vezina Trophy winner
When surrounded by the likes Ovechkin, Carlson, Holtby, it’s easy to be overlooked for a spot on the team. Just ask Backstrom, who has been overlooked in every season except for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game despite being one of the greatest playmakers in the NHL, one of the best passers in the league, and recording the most assists in the 2010s.
Nevertheless, Oshie is fully deserving of the vote, and it would be a special homecoming for him to play his first All-Star Game in the arena of the team who drafted him and who he spent his first seven seasons in the NHL with.
Here’s what he thinks about the possibility of playing in his first All-Star Game:
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Oshie said of the Last Men In vote. “Obviously, the break is always nice. But for a guy like me that’s never been to an All-Star Game, it probably would feel a little more special than some of the other guys that have been either every year of their career or guys that have been a couple times. But it’s pretty good. If I get in, great. If not, my vacation is already planned.”NHL.com
How to Vote for Oshie
The voting process for the Last Men In Ballot is plain and simple:
- Click this link to be brought to the ballot
- Select Oshie from the Metropolitan Division
- If inclined, select one player from each of the three remaining divisions
- Press “submit” at the bottom of the page to cast your vote
A total of ten ballots can be submitted every 24 hours. Voting closes on Jan. 10 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Christopher Williams is a junior journalism student at Emerson College in Boston. He fell in love with the Washington Capitals at an early age, and it’s been his dream ever since to cover hockey as a journalist. Christopher is a staff writer for Emerson’s student newspaper, The Berkeley Beacon, where he writes the Boston Bruins column. He is also a sports reporter for Emerson’s TV station, WEBN-TV Boston, where he has covered the Boston Bruins, Beanpot Tournament, and Boston University men’s hockey.