Winger Martin Erat is turning out to be a notable trade bust for the Capitals. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
Martin Erat wants out of Washington. The question is, does anybody else want him?
Erat, who was acquired from Nashville at last season's trade deadline to bolster the Capitals' offense, has been a failure. In his 13 games after the deal, he recorded one goal and two assists and rarely made much of an impression. He started this season on the fourth line, but injuries to other players allowed him to play a top-six role for much of the past month. His production remained dismal--just six assists despite the increased role--leading to him being scratched on Saturday.
He made it clear following today’s practice that the scratch was the last straw.
"I want to be traded. We’ll see how it goes,” Erat told The Washington Post. “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.”
Fair enough. Sometimes things don't work out, although the decision to send top prospect Filip Forsberg to the Preds in the deal for Erat looks even worse now that Erat has flamed out.
So now the pressure is on Capitals GM George McPhee--who says he's willing to accommodate Erat--to find a team that will give him more than a bag of pucks for the disgruntled forward. That won't be easy now that McPhee has both hands tied behind his back, not just by this public demand, but by Erat's track record. As much as he complains about not getting a chance in Washington, he did get most of a six-game stretch on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The unit stagnated with Erat on it, then started burying pucks again when he was replaced by Marcus Johansson. Hardly a ringing endorsement of his potential to thrive if given a new opportunity.
Still, there's a chance that McPhee could find a taker. Montreal has been sniffing around for offensive help, and so have the Rangers. Ottawa could be interested, but they might require the Caps to take back struggling winger Milan Michalek in return. And there's certainly room in the top-six in Buffalo, which could afford to send a mid-level prospect and a mid-round pick to the Caps in return on the off-chance that Erat could rediscover his game.
It's a no-win situation for McPhee, but he'll make the best of it by resolving it quickly before it becomes a distraction. Expect him to make something happen over the next few days.
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