Washington Capitals forwards T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller played pivotal roles in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, helping their team come out of Las Vegas with a 1-1 split.
Eller played the role of the unlikely hero in Wednesday’s Game 2 victory, notching a point on all three Capitals goals with two assists and a goal. Oshie racked up a pair of assists and made his presence felt with his physicality in Game 1.
Eller and Oshie, along with Las Vegas Golden Knights forwards Ryan Reeves and David Perron, are all former members of the St. Louis Blues.
Two of them will win a Stanley Cup before their previous team.
Eller, a top prospect for the Blues in his early career, was part of a trade with the Montreal Canadiens in 2010 that landed St. Louis Jaroslav Halak. Halak, who was expected to be the team’s long term goalie, played three full seasons for the Blues before getting traded to the Capitals in his fourth season. The Blues moved forward with Brian Elliot is their everyday net minder.
Eller spent six seasons in Montreal where he averaged just under 26 points per season. He signed a five-year contract with the Capitals in 2016 and has thrived, especially during the 2017-18 season in which he totaled 38 points on 18 goals and 20 assists. Only five players on the Blues had more points than Eller this year.
While most Blues fans may not be very hurt from the Eller trade, most are still recovering from a trade in 2015 that sent fan-favorite and U.S. hockey standout, T.J. Oshie, to Washington for forward Troy Brouwer.
St. Louis got the short-end of the stick in the trade as Brouwer put up 39 points in the 2015-16 season, only to sign a four-year contract with the Calgary Flames after his only season in St. Louis.
Oshie, on the other hand, tallied 51 points in his first season with the Capitals and signed an eight-year extension after a 56-point 2016-17 season with Washington.
Similar to the Oshie deal, but not of the same magnitude, came when St. Louis traded fan-favorite forward and enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 for the 31st draft pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and Oskar Sundqvist.
The Penguins traded him mid-season this year to the Golden Knights, as the surging expansion team needed an enforcer to continue their unexpected success.
Although Reaves’ impact has never been shown on the stat sheet, his physicality and hard-nosed playing style during his seven-year stint with St. Louis made him popular among fans — not to mention his ability to fight.
While Reaves isn’t known for his goal-scoring, he provided a crucial goal early in the third period that gave the Golden Knights the lead in Monday’s 6-4 victory over the Capitals.
Reaves is an unrestricted free agent in the coming offseason, and there’s some speculation about a reunion with St. Louis.
Perron, Reaves’ former teammate in St. Louis, has been a pleasant surprise for Vegas fans. He recorded 66 points on 50 assists and 16 goals as a third-line left winger this season and has eight points (all assists) thus far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Surely the Blues, who missed the playoffs in 2018, would like to have Eller, Oshie, Reaves and Perron back. But for two of those four players, they’ll accomplish a childhood dream of hoisting Stanley’s Cup — something none of them have ever done before.
Jack Parodi covers the St. Louis Blues and you can find him on Twitter @jack_parodi