Forward T.J. Oshie signed an eight-year, $46 million contract with the Washington Capitals on Friday.
Oshie, 30, was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and would have been permitted to speak with other teams beginning on Sunday, but his heart was set on staying with the Capitals.
"I sat down with my agent and told him that I really liked Washington and it's somewhere that I would like to re-sign at," Oshie said. "From there, it was kind of a waiting game. Talks just got going, really heated up in the last couple days. So I was kind of a nervous wreck for a while, [but] everything worked exactly how I wanted it to and I really couldn't be happier with staying and re-signing."
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said contract talks got more serious after the NHL and NHL Players' Association set the salary cap at $75 million on Sunday. MacLellan didn't want to risk letting Oshie hit the open market.
"I think if we didn't get it [done] before July 1, we might have gotten in a little trouble," MacLellan said. "You look at the free agent market for scoring wingers and it's pretty thin this year, and I would assume he'd one of the No. 1 or No. 2 targets. I think he could have maybe gotten more money if he went totally to free agency."
Oshie's contract carries an annual salary cap charge of $5.75 million, which is third-highest on the Capitals behind Alex Ovechkin ($9,538,462) and Nicklas Backstrom ($6.7 million). Oshie tied with Ovechkin for the Capitals lead by scoring an NHL career-high 33 goals in 68 games this season. His 56 points were four off his NHL career-high 60 with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14.
Playing mostly on the Capitals' top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom, Oshie had 107 points (59 goals, 48 assists) in 148 games in two seasons since being acquired from the Blues on July 2, 2015. Selected by the Blues in the first round (No. 24) of the 2005 NHL Draft, Oshie has 417 points (169 goals, 248 assists) in 591 regular-season NHL games and 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in 55 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"I think it sends a great message to not only our team, [but also] our fans," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of re-signing Oshie. "Oshie, you see what he did the last two years. I think he's a big part of our culture, a big part of our success. So I think it was a huge signing."
Oshie said he wasn't sure if he wanted to re-sign with the Capitals after their disappointing 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round. It was the second consecutive season the Capitals lost to the Penguins in the second round after winning the Presidents' Trophy.
But after his initial frustration faded, Oshie saw that the Capitals were the best fit for him.
"Right away, within the first 48 hours, I thought I would test free agency and see if I could go win somewhere else," he said. "But as I sit down and think about the team we have, the coaching staff we have and our ability, I've got no doubt in my mind that we'll be able to win a Cup here in these next couple years."
Besides having a chance to win the Stanley Cup, being in a city where his wife, Lauren, and their two daughters are comfortable was another important factor for Oshie.
"Then, along with that, obviously, was the money issue and term and security," he said. "So I feel like once we got to this deal with the Caps everything was checked off for me, so it was almost like a no-brainer for me."
After re-signing Oshie, MacLellan said it is unlikely the Capitals will bring back potential unrestricted free agent defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner, and forwards Justin Williams and Daniel Winnik. MacLellan said he is working on re-signing potential restricted free agent forwards Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly and Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Philipp Grubauer. Burakovsky, Kuznetsov, Orlov and Grubauer are due to receive significant raises, which won't leave much room under the salary cap for MacLellan to sign many other players.
According to CapFriendly.com, the Capitals have $19,061,538 in remaining salary cap space with 12 players under contract.
"I would imagine we're done," MacLellan said of re-signing the Capitals' other potential unrestricted free agents. "Depending on if something happens transaction-wise, I would assume we're done."