The Washington Capitals today announced they have acquired winger Martin Erat from the Nashville Predators along with C Michael Latta in exchange for prospect Filip Forsberg. Erat, 31, is a veteran of 723 NHL games, all with Nashville, and has produced 163 goals and 481 points. He also has produced 8 goals and 23 points in 46 playoff games. Erat had a full no-trade clause, but waived that to be moved to Washington. He has 2 more seasons on his contract at $4.5 million per season. This sends a clear message to the team and the fan base the Capitals are trying to win now. It also adds scoring depth at the wings with the injury to Eric Fehr and the mysterious disappearance of Wojtek Wolski from the lineup.
Photo: Nashville City Paper
Erat has been struggling offensively this season after the Predators were gutted in the offseason and have been missing key forwards for large chunks of the season. With only 4 goals and 21 points in 36 games this season, Erat is well off his usual goal scoring pace, but is right on his usual 50-point pace. He has posted at least 16 goals and 49 points in each of the last 8 seasons, with a career high of 58 points last year. Listed as a left-shooting right winger, there is no reason to think the 6', 196-lb Erat can't pick his scoring pace up on the offesnviely-minded Capitals and help them advance deep into the playoffs. He will likely line up on the left side of the line with Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer.
The other player in the trade, Michael Latta is a 21-year old center currently plying his trade with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. He was the Admirals' third-leading scorer with 9 goals and 35 points in 67 games this season. The 6', 215-lb Latta has played in 122 career AHL games and has scored 23 goals and 63 points. He was a third-round pick of the Predators in 2009 and was a top scorer with the Guelph Storm of the OHL. He may not be a scoring center in the NHL, but he certainly has a high compete level and does the little things well, according to Hockey's Future. He has one year left on an entry-level deal that has a cap hit of $773,333, but will pay him $65,000 in the AHL next year. Latta obviously did not expect to get traded.
Filip Forsberg was a top Capitals' prospect and his departure has dealt a blow to the Capitals' future. He was expected by many to be a top-3 draft pick at the 2012 draft last summer, but fell to the Capitals at the 11th pick. The Capitals had not done much pre-scouting on Forsberg and getting him must have seemed like found money for McPhee. Also hampering the Capitals' scouting efforts was the fact that Forsberg has been playing in the Allsvenskan, the second-tier Swedish professional league, meaning he was not playing much against top competition. Forsberg was projected to be a steady top-6 forward with an all around game and a top-end skill set, but he needs to fill out his frame a little more. He will get the tougher competition if he stays in Sweden next season, as he helped Leksand advance to the top league, the Elitserien. Best of luck to him.