At last year's trade deadline, the Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators made a mind-blowing swap.
To Washington: Martin Erat, Michael Latta
To Nashville: Filip Forsberg
We fell off our chairs when the deal was made, as it was so lopsided in Nashville's favor, even if the Preds would never admit that. The Caps, not a serious playoff contender, had dealt away a prospect they'd drafted 11th overall less than a year earlier in exchange for a two-player package headlined by a low-impact secondary scorer. The trade looked bad then and a year has stretched the gap even further.
Forsberg was the No. 21 overall prospect in last year's edition of Future Watch. In this year's freshly completed edition, about to hit newsstands, he's No. 4. He even received a first-place vote over Jonathan Drouin from one NHL scout. Projections aren't everything, but it's worth noting at least one expert considers Forsberg the best prospect in the world and this prospect was traded for...Martin Erat.
Don't like projections? No problem. Let's look at the facts. The Predators lent Forsberg to Team Sweden for the 2014 World Junior Championship. He finished second in tourney scoring with 12 points in seven games and was named the event's MVP. He has as many world junior MVP awards as Erat has goals this season.
Forsberg has enjoyed a brief taste of NHL action, but is currently languishing in the American League, trying to strengthen his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. He hasn't recorded a point in seven games, but he still has 18 in 29 games. He's also just 19 years old and playing in a league full of grown men.
And then there's Erat, who continues to beg for a trade out of D.C. The deal didn't pay dividends during the 2012-13 stretch run, as Erat tallied one goal and three points in 13 games, including the playoffs. This year has been worse, with one measly goal in 53 games. The struggles go back further. Including the four playoff contests last year, Erat has six goals in his last 102 games. Tom Sestito has six in his last 60 games.
Latta, the other piece Washington received, projects to "provide the Capitals with an option at fourth-line center" when he makes the pros, according to Future Watch 2014. He's performed well with AHL Hershey as a grinding pivot, but he's Washington's fourth-ranked prospect and doesn't sniff the top 75 overall.
The deal was an incredible head-scratcher when it happened. I don't know a single person besides, well, GM George McPhee that felt it was smart for the Capitals. And with each day that passes, as Forsberg keeps getting better, this looks more and more embarrassing for them.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin