In the last big deal of Trade Deadline Day, the Washington Capitals brought in a proven scoring winger, but gave up a top prospect in order to get the deal done.
Numbers Game looks at the Capitals deal for Martin Erat.
The Capitals Get: RW Martin Erat and C Michael Latta.
Erat, 31, is a remarkably consistent player (he was one of 17 players to score at least 45 points every year from 2003-2004 through 2011-2012). Like many in Nashville, he has struggled to score this year, logging just four goals and 21 points in 36 games, his lowest points per game since 2002-2003, despite playing 18:55 per game which ranked second among Predators forwards.
A skilled forward, Erat could benefit from a move to a Capitals team that is more offensively-oriented than Nashville, though it seems unlikely that the Capitals would break up their currently-smoking top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. Even so, a spot on the wing with Mike Ribeiro could still be suitable for Erat to make an impact.
Erat had to waive a no-movement clause (he actually requested a trade) in order for the deal to go down and he's still under contract for two more years, at a cap hit of $4.5-million (www.capgeek.com).
Washington has been playing much better lately and have climbed to within two points of the Southeast Division lead. The decision to deal a top prospect for a veteran scorer shows that the Capitals are intent on winning now, perhaps recognizing that the improvement in play from Ovechin and Backstrom could give the Capitals a chance to make some noise in the postseason.
21-year-old Michael Latta is an aggressive checking centre who has 62 points and 284 penalty minutes (accumulating 24 scraps, according to www.hockeyfights.com) in 118 AHL games through his first two pro seasons.
A sturdy young forward, Latta doesn't have big upside, but has a chance to make the league as a checking forward.
The Predators Get: RW Filip Forsberg.
The 11th overall pick in 2012, Forsberg is a highly-touted prospect and a major investment by the Capitals to give up a trade chip of this significance.
An 18-year-old winger who has good size and is a strong skater, Forsberg has some questions about his offensive upside, but his performance this year for Leksands (15 G, 18 A, +11 in 38 GP in Allsvenskan, the second-highest league in Sweden) was promising. He's assuredly an NHLer, but the question remains whether he's going to reach top-line status. If he does, this deal will be play out as a big success for the Predators.
With Erat moving on, there could be more quality ice time for young Nashville forwards like Taylor Beck and Craig Smith.
There isn't an immediate rush for Forsberg to join the Nashville, though he may not be too far away from being ready. Given Nashville's history, it's fair to believe that they won't rush him to the NHL before he is ready to contribute.
Nashville has the same number of points as eighth-place St. Louis in the Western Conference, but has played three more games, so it's understandable that they are willing to look at the long-term view. Moving Erat doesn't automatically abandon hope for this season, but the long-term value of an asset like Forsberg is too enticing for the Predators to ignore, especially when a veteran decides he wants out.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.