Washington Capitals Rumors: Should Prioritize Trading Away Martin Erat
Throughout the 2013-14 season it has been utterly clear that Martin Erat is longing for a move away from the Washington Capitals. Erat publicly asked for a move out of town multiple times during the opening half of the season, and once again voiced his will to secure a trade after returning from the Sochi Olympics. And now, with the NHL Trade Deadline due to pass on March 5, 2014 at 3 p.m. ET, it is time that Capitals general manager George McPhee makes a deal happen.
When it comes to identifying what Erat can bring to a team at the NHL level it is clear that he actually has a lot to offer. The 32-year-old left winger has exceptional skill with the puck at his disposal, as he has an eye for open teammates that cannot be ignored, and is also adept at finding time and space to make things happen. Furthermore, the veteran actually has above average quickness and speed both on and off the puck, and has enough finishing ability to put 18-22 goals in the back of the net per season.
And while it would be great for the Capitals to take advantage of everything that Erat has to offer, it is clear that neither the player nor the organization truly long to be in a relationship any longer.
When it comes to Erat it is clear that totals of one goals, 23 assists and 14:44 on the ice per game are not indicative of his skill level, but the player has caused part of the issue. For the majority of the season he has looked slower than ever before on and off the puck, and has looked to lack the will to win battles and make things happen for the good of the team. This clearly makes the player look unprofessional to inquiring sides, and this is only exacerbated by the fact that the 32-year-old forced through a trade from the Nashville Predators at the NHL Trade Deadline last season.
Capitals head coach Adam Oates has taken to making the forward a healthy scratch on nine different occasions, including as recently as March 1. That certainly displays where the organization is at with the player. When you have guys such as Jay Beagle and Nicolas Deschamps in the lineup ahead of a guy that totaled 49 or more points every year from 2004-12, it is clear that something is wrong. And while there is no doubting that part of the issue does belong on Erat’s shoulders, it has also been made utterly clear that Oates and McPhee are not specifically worried about rectifying the situation.
When you consider that Erat hasn’t cracked the top two lines full-time even with Marcus Johansson and Mikhail Grabovski out with injury, it is clear he never will. The time is now to make a move happen, as both of these players returning and Evgeny Kuznetsov coming over from Russia will only push Erat further down the pecking order as the playoff push approaches, and will ultimately push any trade value he has down the drain.
In terms of looking at what the Capitals could expect to get back for Erat, the simple answer is not much at all. This is because the 32-year-old has only one goal for the entirety of the current season, has forced Washington’s hand by repeatedly asking for a move out of town and even is signed through the 2014-15 season at an unsightly $4.5 million cap hit.
The best case scenario in a one-off trade would be that the Capitals receive a fourth to sixth round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, or an extremely low level and low potential player. Another option that seems surprisingly realistic is that Washington would tack on Erat as the back end of a move for a guy such as New York Islanders defesneman Andrew MacDonald or Buffalo Sabres forward Matt Moulson, although this would serve more in balancing salary cap issues than as a genuine asset. At this point any type of move would be appreciated from Capitals fans.
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