The Washington Capitals decided to let cooler heads prevail, and wait out the initial free agent frenzy. That night they decided to finally make a splash and signed veteran free agent Justin Williams to an extremely team friendly contract.
In getting Williams and Oshie, they get two players who have played on teams that have excelled in a category that the Capitals have struggled in the past few years – puck possession.
New Capitals Bring Possession, Playmaking To Table
While they posted the 13th best corsi for percentage last season, over the past three years the Capitals have been well below average in the puck possession stat – ranking 22nd out of 30 teams (all stats recorded at even strength).
For Williams he has been known as one of the best puck possession players in the league, playing on the best teams in terms of that stat over the last three years, the Los Angeles Kings. Williams posted a 57.29 corsi for percentage last season, and over the past three years has a 58.55% corsi rating.
Also known for his game seven antics, Williams has consistently driven action towards the oppositions net, keeping the puck away from his net and in the back of the other team (a 57.83 GF% last season, which would have been second on the Capitals).
Oshie has spent his entire career up to this point with the Blues after being the team’s first round selection back in 2005 (24th overall). After a three year stint with the University of North Dakota (played a year with Jonathan Toews), Oshie went on to play 443 games with the Blues, scoring 310 points (110 G, 200 A).
He is also very, very good at the shootout.
While that isn’t what the Capitals traded him for, it doesn’t hurt, they did acquire him for his puck possession, two-way play and his underestimated playmaking ability.
While not the same corsi numbers that Williams has posted, Oshie has driven action towards the opponent’s net with success despite being deployed in more defensive situations (44.84% of his zone starts began in the offensive zone). Despite the high start times in the defensive zone, Oshie posted a 51.72 corsi for percentage, to go along with a 56.70 goals for percentage.
In three of the last four seasons (only season he didn’t was the lockout shortened year) Oshie has posted at least 35 assists, including 39 in 2013 during of which he scored a career high 60 points. Last year at even strength, Oshie registered 1.45 assists/60 minutes which would have been the best mark on the entire team last year – even better than Nicklas Backstrom’s (1.29) or Evgeny Kuznetsov’s (1.08) marks. His passing ability helped set up his teammates with good enough shots that the Blues’ shooting percentage when Oshie was on the ice was 10.13%. When compared, again, to the Capitals it comes out to be tops – just beating out Andre Burakovsky.
Going into the offseason, MacLellan identified the team’s need for some help in the top six, not only did they add maybe the best bang-for-buck on the opening day of free agency, they added a very skilled winger who is entering his prime years, without giving up any real key pieces.
The Capitals came within one game of the Eastern Conference Finals, losing in game seven (no coincidence signing Williams, right), to the New York Rangers but with these additions, they may have added just the pieces they need to finally get over that hump.