Oshie expects tougher year for Caps: 'We lost a lot of good players'

by
Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports

When T.J. Oshie was traded to the Washington Capitals in the summer of 2015, he expected to do one thing: win Cups.

But, after running through the Eastern Conference in back-to-back regular seasons to only be bounced in the second round of the playoffs, Oshie knows the task ahead is only getting harder. Especially when you consider the talent Washington lost this offseason.

"We lost a lot of really, really good players, and I think we knew that was going to happen," Oshie said, according to Jessi Pierce of NHL.com. "Now we're going to need a lot of younger guys to fill in for a lot of different roles."

With the offseason losses of veteran wingers Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams, the Capitals' bottom-six forward group will need unproven youngsters like Jakub Vrana, Andre Burakovsky, and Riley Barber to take their games to the next level.

"I'm looking for everyone to take that next step," Oshie said. "It's not one or two guys; we need everyone to get on board and to find that next level. From our star players to our support players and to the guys that play the dirty minutes, we need everyone."

Washington was also dealt a blow on the blue line, as salary cap restrictions influenced the departures of rearguards Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt, and Kevin Shattenkirk.

Oshie recognizes that without some of the aforementioned names, the Caps are in for a much stiffer test this season as opposed to the past two.

"I don't expect us to run away with it like we did the past couple years in the regular season," he said.

Washington still touts one of the best core groups in the NHL today with Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, and Nicklas Backstrom anchoring the club.

But, regardless of who it is, the Capitals will need someone to step up to support the big three, otherwise it will be another long summer for Ovi and the boys.