Brad Marchand vs. T.J. Oshie

by Rick Roos on August 21, 2013




Who is the better fantasy own – Brad Marchand or TJ Oshie?



Welcome to Cage Match, which I’ve now officially taken over from Steve Laidlaw. I hope to carry on the outstanding tradition of the column, while also adding some personal touches. 

In pitting Brad Marchand against T.J. Oshie, this week’s match focuses on two very comparable players who are already solid fantasy contributors. However, along with their respective benefits, each player also has some red flags and question marks that definitely make it useful to do the in depth side-by-side comparison that you’ve all come to expect from Cage Match.

Past Performance and Ice Time

Both players have suited up for between 200 and 300 NHL games. And although neither has cracked the 60 point mark for a season as yet (Marchand did score at a 67 point pace last season), both have decent point per game career averages, with Marchand’s just over 0.61, and Oshie’s just under 0.67.

Their lack of a 60 point season is influenced by the teams they play for, as not only do St. Louis and Boston each place a heavy premium on defense (both were in the top five in NHL Goals Against for the past two seasons), but each team also evenly allocates ice time among their forwards. Looking at last season, neither team had a forward with 20+ minutes of ice time per game, and Boston only had one player (Patrice Bergeron) and St. Louis only two (Oshie and David Backes) receive over 19 minutes.

Oshie’s 19:05 of ice time per game versus Marchand’s 16:57 in 2012-13 is indeed a big discrepancy (roughly 11%). What’s more, the gap stays about the same if you subtract non-productive shorthanded time (Oshie lined up for 1:38 per game of shorthanded time, while Marchand tallied 1:16 per contest, which means Oshie’s non-shorthanded ice time per game was 17:27 compared to Marchand’s 15:41, for a similar difference of about 12%).

Oshie had an even bigger ice time advantage last season on the power play, with 2:29 per game versus Marchand’s 1:44 (about 25% more than Marchand). The question is whether that was an aberration, especially since their power play ice time numbers were a lot closer in 2011-12 (2:28 for Oshie, 2:09 for Marchand). I’m guessing no, given Marchand’s struggles on the PP (more on that below).


Impact of Offseason Arrivals and Departures

I’d expect Oshie’s ice time numbers to stay the pretty much the same, even though the Blues added more forwards (notably Derek Roy, who has excelled on the PP during his career, and Magnus Paajarvi) than they lost (David Perron) during the offseason. Plus, even as younger Blues forwards like Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz receive more and more ice time both at even strength and on the power play in coming seasons, this shouldn’t hurt Oshie because not only has he more than earned his spot, but he’s also the only Blues forward signed through 2016-17, so increases in ice time to Schwartz and Tarasenko will likely come at the expense of other Blues forwards who will leave town as RFAs or UFAs in the next couple of seasons. 

Marchand also has more than proven himself as a productive workhorse in the eyes of the team and coaching staff. And although offseason Bruins additions Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla will undoubtedly receive their fair share of PP and overall ice time, Marchand will be a lock to remain in the top six and figures – for now at least- to get no less PP time than last season. This is due to the way the Bruins operate (seven Bruins forwards – including Marchand – who played in 40+ games all received between 2:13 and 1:41 on the PP) and also because the two newcomers will likely just slot into the PP time of the two major departed Bruins forwards Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley.


Power Play Performance vs. Ice Time

While we’re on the subject of PP time, one thing that absolutely cannot be ignored is Marchand’s almost inexplicably poor performance on the power play in his career. In one of my old Holding Court columns I highlighted that in Marchand’s breakout 55 point 2011-12 season, he somehow only managed to get a miniscule six of his 55 points (i.e., 11%) on the power play despite receiving 2:09 per game with the man advantage. And things were just as bad for Marchand last season, where he managed just four of his 36 points on the PP – still good for only 11%.

There’s no sugarcoating this – so far Marchand has indeed been a “Category Killer” in terms of power play points, especially compared to Oshie, who compiled an amazing ten of his 20 points (i.e., 50%) last year with the man advantage, and 16 of his 54 points (i.e., 30%) on the PP in 2011-12. Despite the Bruins’ philosophy of pretty even PP time for all their top forwards, Marchand might very well see his minutes with the man advantage shrink in the future if he continues his major struggles.



Of course ice time advantages don’t matter if a player isn’t dressed for a game, and that’s especially of concern for Oshie, who has missed 30-40% of his team’s contests in three of his five NHL seasons. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially in contrast to Marchand, who, despite his rough and tumble style of play, has managed to stay healthy in each of his three full seasons, never missing more than six games.

If there’s a small silver lining to Oshie’s situation, it’s that when he gets hurt it isn’t four games missed here, three games there, etc. In other words, he hasn’t been plagued by day to day issues where you never know whether to put him in your line-up or not. Instead, when he’s missed games it’s been for an extended period of time, at least allowing his owners to reliably put another player in the line-up.

And despite his lack of missed games thus far, I see Marchand as somewhat of a potential ticking time bomb in this area. For one, he’s been suspended twice in his young NHL career, one time for two games and later for five games. With this kind of history, he’s one questionable hit from missing even more games the next time, and that could really hurt his owners, especially those in leagues where it might not be permitted by the rules to replace a suspended player in their active line-up. Also, because of Marchand’s “little ball of hate” agitator playing style, he definitely has a target on him more than other players, so the risk of him being singled out for a cheap shot that could cause serious injury is remote but real, and is worth taking at least somewhat into consideration.

One last point – Marchand is such a competitor that he clearly never wants to miss games. And while that’s admirable, it’s also a bit concerning for his fantasy owners. If Marchand is banged up and only playing at – let’s say – 75% of his usual self but not telling his team (or his team is not telling the press), then his fantasy owners figure everything is fine and keep him in the line-up, to their detriment.


Secondary Categories

In terms of other secondary stats, Oshie holds a distinct advantage over Marchand in hits and blocked shots, averaging nearly a combined two per game while Marchand is barely over a combined one per game. But interestingly the reverse is basically true for PIMs, where Marchand has averaged about twice as many as Oshie over the past three seasons, although at this point neither player is likely to average even one PIM per game. Shots are pretty much a wash, with each player at about two per game for each of the past three seasons. Neither player takes many faceoffs, so that’s a non-factor.



One thing that makes this match-up more straightforward is, as I noted earlier, that both players are locked into scoring lines on their teams, with really no threat of either player suddenly finding himself in a totally unfamiliar situation. Just as logic suggests that Marchand will stay glued to Patrice Bergeron (who, according to Frozen Pool, he skated with literally 80% of the time he hit the ice last season), so too will Oshie remain next to David Backes (who he lined up with for roughly 75% of all his shifts). And just as the third member of the Marchand line will be new (either Iginla or, as has been predicted, Eriksson), Oshie will also have a new linemate to replace Perron, who was the most common third member of the Oshie and Backes trio last season. But with Oshie, at least there’s a chance that the new linemate will be someone he’s familiar with, maybe even Schwartz, who lined up with Oshie for just under 20% of his shifts, including 15% with Backes as well. Perhaps a slight edge here to Oshie.



One thing worth touching upon in this debate is how streaky (or “windexy”) each player is, which calls for examining how many multi-point games, zero point games, and streaks of points or no points that each player had. This is relevant for all fantasy owners, but particularly those who have weekly line-up settings, or if one of these guys is someone you’re thinking of rotating in and out of the line-up, as opposed to leaving them in there all season. Here’s the data for each player for the past three seasons:



Total Points Scored

Stretches of four or more games with zero points in each game

Stretches of four or more games with at least one point in each game

Total number of two point games

Total number of three or more point games


36 (Marchand)

20 (Oshie)

0 (Marchand)

0 (Oshie)

3 (Marchand)

3 (Oshie)

6 (Marchand)

6 (Oshie)

1 (Marchand)

1 (Oshie)


55 (Marchand)

54 (Oshie)

2 (Marchand)

3 (Oshie)

2 (Marchand)

0 (Oshie)

8 (Marchand)

12 (Oshie)

3 (Marchand)

2 (Oshie)


41 (Marchand)

34 (Oshie)

4 (Marchand)

2 (Oshie)

3 (Marchand)

2 (Oshie)

4 (Marchand)

6 (Oshie)

2 (Marchand)

1 (Oshie)


The numbers are pretty comparable, certainly close enough that no player would be that much better or worse than the other in this area. It does bear pointing out that according to this data Oshie is more likely to give you a multiple point game, although it also suggests that he’s less likely to give you a point scoring streak or enjoy a monster game (i.e., three or more points) as compared to Marchand.


So Who Wins?

If Oshie had not been so bitten by the injury bug, I think he’d be the easy winner. But all those games missed do make a difference. That being said, in nearly every other area Oshie is either a clear winner (ice time, power play scoring) or it’s basically a wash (linemates, windexiness, other secondary categories). And as I said above, even though Marchand has proven to be durable, he poses at least some a risk in terms of suspensions, being a target for other teams, and possibly having his production decreased by playing hurt.

So the winner is Oshie unless

(1) you’re in a pure points league, or

(2) your league doesn’t count power play statistics and/or hits and blocked shots, or

(3) if somehow you’re not allowed to replace injured players on your roster during the season.

Recent Cage Matches:


Bryan Bickell vs. Troy Brouwer 
PA Parenteau vs. Jason Pominville