Washington Capitals forward Martin Erat is demanding a trade, unhappy with the way his season is going. If you think this sounds like déjà vu, you’re not crazy. It’s actually the second time this statement has been said in 2013.
Back in April, Erat, then a member of the Nashville Predators, very publically stated his dissatisfaction with his surroundings. Predators GM David Poile was disappointed, but obliged, sending Erat to the Capitals for prospect Filip Forsberg. For Washington, it seemed like the move of a team looking for a final piece to help them win the Stanley Cup.
And then, the season started, and Erat has been anything but productive. In 23 games, he has just six points, none of which have come from goals. That someone who comes with a $4.5 million cap hit has yet to score this season has to be troubling for Washington. He’s already found himself a permanent resident in coach Adam Oates’ doghouse, where he’s alternated between playing on the fourth line and being a healthy scratch.
It appears, now, that enough is enough…again.
“I want to be traded. We’ll see how it goes,” Erat said. “Since day one, I didn’t get the chance here. I got traded here to be a top six player but never got the chance, never played more than 15 minutes in here and it’s time for me to move on.”
It’s clear from the get-go that Erat thinks he’s getting the short straw in Washington. His average time on ice right now is 13:08. Only five players on the Capitals play less, and it’s doubtful they get paid anywhere near the money Erat is getting. And while it’s tough to prove your worth when you aren’t on the ice that often, the numbers don’t lie. Does zero goals in 23 games scream “let’s get that guy more playing time?” Hardly.
Now, Washington GM George McPhee has to figure out how to handle this situation. When a player is openly and not very subtly demanding a trade at team practice, it’s only a matter of time before this situation begins to fester in the locker room. And unfortunately for McPhee, this presents a double-edged sword situation. On one end, he obviously can’t keep Erat on the roster, as his demands for a trade are only going to get louder. At the same time, how many GMs in the NHL are dying to trade for a guy who’s openly begging to be dealt for the second time in a calendar year? Who’s to say Erat will do any better on another team? Does he start campaigning his way off that roster, too?
Either way, this situation is getting ugly, and fast. Erat certainly isn’t coming off as a player who’ll just pipe down and increase his effort. He wants out. Only question is; just how long is he going to give his eventual new team before begging his way off their roster, too?