Will Oshie Hearing be Necessary?
We should have a resolution one way or another with T.J Oshie’s contract at some point this week.
Regardless how it turns out Oshie will be in a St. Louis Blues uniform this season.
With a Friday arbitration hearing scheduled both sides are fully prepared to allow a third party to decide how much Oshie should be paid this year. Obviously the Blues have the option to accept a one or two year award.
Both sides are expected in Toronto Wednesday to exchange files before the actual hearing gets underway on Friday. Oshie and the Blues are still talking and will continue to do so in an effort to eliminate the arbitration hearing altogether. Oshie is expected to be in Toronto as well.
Neither side is eager to engage in an arbitration hearing. For years I’ve been told this is usually the first step to a fractured relationship.
What’s the issue?
It’s well known the Blues are open to signing Oshie to a long-term contract but agreeing to the third and fourth years, or his UFA years, appears to be a challenge. I’ve said numerous times that $4.5 cap hit that belongs to Captain David Backes is likely serving as an internal cap the Blues won’t go over. Backes, a two-time 30 goal scorer, has four years remaining on a five-year contract.
What will Oshie be worth in the open market two years from now? With some of the outrageous contracts we’ve seen this summer one can only imagine.
While the $4.5 number is serving as an internal cap today it’s very safe to assume the Blues will have to go above and beyond this number next summer when Alex Pietrangelo is up for an extension.
There’s a strong possibility Oshie and the Blues agree to another short-term contract in the event a long-term agreement can’t be reached. This would eliminate the arbitration hearing and allow both sides to focus on the coming season. A two-year agreement could also be reached but is risky if unrestricted free agency stays as is and doesn’t change in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement. As it sits today Oshie is eligible for UFA after the 2013-2014 season.
With players like Pierangelo, Shattenkirk, McDonald, Stewart, Russell, and Berglund entering the final year of their deals I can’t see the Blues being too excited about signing Oshie to a one-year deal. That’s a lot of work that would need to get done at the end of next season. But if it’s evident a long-term agreement can’t be reached it probably makes sense to agree on a short term contract and eliminate the stress of going through an arbitration hearing. I get the sense Oshie is fine with signing a one or two year deal and picking things back up next summer.
Agreeing on the salary Oshie should be paid next season isn’t the issue and a arbitrator isn’t necessary to determine his number for the upcoming season. Again it’s his UFA years where the disagreement falls.
If they were to agree to a four year-deal Backes, Oshie, David Perron, and Roman Polak would all be up in the same year.
If there’s one thing both sides can certainly agree on it’s how important Oshie is to this hockey club and the fan base. There’s always a risk when signing a one-year deal with a long-term contract on the table. A down year could change things in a hurry but most are confident Oshie is only scratching the surface. It’s hard to think he won’t get better. I’m not sure how high his offensive ceiling is but you can’t overlook he tied for the team lead in points last season. Whether he can do that with McDonald, Steen, and Perron playing a full year remains to be seen.
I’m sure the Blues will argue he’s yet to score 20 goals and hasn’t scored a playoff goal in 13 playoff games. Then again Oshie’s impact on a game or team can’t be defined purely by what shows up in a box score.
Most importantly for Blues fans, Oshie doesn't want to play anywhere else. He wants to remain a St. Louis Blue for many years to come. This is one area both sides certainly agree on.
More to come,
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