NHL Trade Rumors: Boston Bruins Targeting T.J. Oshie, Chris Stewart?

TJ Oshie

Last week, Boston Bruins beat writer Joe Haggerty talked about potential trade targets for a scoring winger. Two key names he mentioned were T.J. Oshie and Chris Stewart. This shouldn’t come as much of a shock; barring a two-goal game from either Brad Marchand or Reilly Smith on Dec. 23, or a hattrick from Dougie Hamilton or Loui Eriksson, the Bruins will go into the Christmas break without a single player in double-digits for goals. After letting Jarome Iginla walk, and the parts from the Tyler Seguin trade not really filling the void, there is a lot of scoring missing from the Bruins roster.

While I don’t think Boston will be trading for Taylor Hall – or that the Oilers would let Hall go – both T.J. Oshie and Chris Stewart could bring some depth scoring on the wing to this team. Here’s what the Bruins would get if they could land one of these two wingers.

T.J. Oshie

Oshie was drafted late in the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. That’s the first thing that should probably be noted about Oshie – he’s not a young player anymore. His cap hit is very team-friendly at $4.175 million for each of the next two seasons, but this isn’t a player who has more upside to come. In fact, T.J. Oshie has cracked the 20-goal plateau once in his career. Barring a big second half this year, Oshie will go into his Age 29 season next year with one 20-goal season to his credit.

When it comes to puck possession – as measured by shot attempts at 5-on-5 – there are two types of players who carry high possession rates: guys who drive the bus, and guys who are passengers on the bus. Someone like Patrice Bergeron is a guy who drives the bus; teammates typically fare much worse possession-wise when playing away from Bergeron than Bergeron does playing away from them. Someone like Oshie is a passenger; while Oshie had a 53.5-percent CorsiFor from 2011-2014, he was typically worse when not playing with players like David Backes or Alex Pietrangelo than they were when not playing with him. That means if Oshie were to be traded to Boston, he’d have to play in their top-six mix. He’s not a player who can be put on the third line to try and give Boston three balanced lines. If he were to play in that third line role, he would not be much of an upgrade (if at all) over existing options like Loui Eriksson or Reilly Smith.

I can understand the excitement surrounding Oshie. A lot of hockey fans remember what he did in the Olympic shootout, and it’s obvious he’s a highly skilled player. With that said, it’s necessary to forget what we might think about a player, and look at what he is. What Oshie is, is a player who was tied with Viktor Stalberg in points per 60 minutes over the course of the previous four seasons at 5-on-5. That’s important to understand, seeing as Stalberg was placed on waivers last week.

Chris Stewart

It wasn’t that long ago that Stewart was thought to be one of the true up-and-coming power forwards in the NHL. Stewart had back-to-back 28-goal seasons from 2009 through 2011, combining for 126 penalty minutes in those two seasons. In fact, from 2008-2011, here’s a list of players under the age of 24 with a higher (or equal) goals per game rate than (as) Chris Stewart (minimum 164 games played): Crosby, Stamkos, Bobby Ryan, Kessel, Toews, Kopitar, Patrick Kane. Over those three seasons, Stewart had the same goals/game rate as Patrick freaking Kane. That’s how good he appeared to be through the first three years of his career.

It’s been a big downturn for Stewart since the start of the 2011 season. Since then, Stewart has a goals per game rate of 0.23, which is lower than noted stars like Matt Read, Artem Anisimov, and David Clarkson. A big part of this is Stewart is playing less; after averaging over 17 minutes a game from 2009-2011, he has been under 16 minutes per game in every season since, was under 14 minutes last year, and is under 15 minutes this year.

Even though the overall numbers have gone down, and his per minute rates have too, Stewart’s points per 60 minutes over the previous three seasons is still 1.64. That mark is better than Jordan Staal, Ryan Callahan, Kris Versteeg, Antoine Vermette, and Derick Brassard. Also, for the Bruins, now would be the time to buy on Chris Stewart; he’s in the last year of a contract, so there’s no commitment beyond this season, and he’s shooting 4.5 percent. Stewart, coming into this campaign, was a career 13.5 percent shooter.

In Summary

While Oshie would probably be the sexy name to get in a trade – Taylor Hall would obviously be the best catch, but let’s be realistic here – the numbers say he’s not very far ahead of Stewart. By name value alone, Oshie would probably cost a lot more in a trade. If Boston were to throw a middling prospect and a mid-round pick at Buffalo for Stewart, do they say no? Maybe, maybe not. Would St. Louis say no? They’d probably laugh, and order an intervention for Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli.

While the name Chris Stewart might not excite Bruins fans nearly as much as the name T.J. Oshie, the numbers indicate Oshie isn’t that much of an upgrade on Stewart. Considering the expected cost in a trade, Buffalo should be getting some phone calls early in 2015.

*Some stats courtesy of Hockey Reference and Hockey Analysis.

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Michael Clifford
Michael Clifford was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and is a graduate of the Unviersity of New Brunswick. He writes about fantasy hockey and baseball for XNSports and FantasyTrade411.com. He can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy for any fantasy hockey questions. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');