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Coyotes Add Erat on Night Before Trade Deadline

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes got their man on Tuesday night, the eve before the NHL trade deadline.

Just a few hours before the team's game vs. Vancouver, Phoenix acquired forward Martin Erat from the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Rostislav Klesla, forward Chris Brown and a fourth-round draft choice in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

“We've been looking at Martin for a long, long time,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. “He was really a terrific player in Nashville for a long time… We're excited to have him."

Erat, who notched one goal and 23 assists in 53 games for the Capitals this season, will fly to Phoenix on Wednesday and is expected to be at the team's next practice.

“It’s been a tough year for me,” Erat said. “I’ve been used to playing a different system and I think Phoenix is really close to what I played in Nashville. The coaching staff knows me pretty well and I think it’s going to be an easy transition… I like to play hard hockey.”

Erat joins three other players from Czech Republic on the roster; forwards Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata, and defenseman Zbynek Michalek are the others.

Maloney said he thinks Erat will enjoy playing with the other Czechs, most likely on left wing on a line with Hanzal and Vrbata.

“We like Martin,” Maloney said. “We like what he can add ... we think Martin will excel at the way we play… He was an Olympian. He has a great pedigree. We think his (goal-scoring) can come back.”

Photo by Getty Images.
Erat has played with Hanzal and Vrbata for Czech Republic at past IIHF World Championships, and with Hanzal at last month's Olympics. He said he is looking forward to playing on a line with them, and that's why he waived his no-movement clause to come to the Coyotes.

“In the end it came down to that I’m going to be able to play with guys who I know and in a system that I’m used to playing,” Erat said.

Regarding Hanzal, Erat said: “He’s a really good player. He’s very strong in front of the net and the kind of guy I’m used to playing with.”

Erat, who has notched 165 goals and 363 assists in 785 NHL games, is under contract for one more season after this one. He will wear sweater No. 10. The Coyotes honored Winnipeg Jets legend Dale Hawerchuk by placing his No. 10 into the team's Ring of Honor. The No 10, however, hasn't been retired.

"There's players that make good plays in hard situations and he's a guy that has the ability to do that," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We think he's a player that can fit in our group. I liked him as a player in Nashville. He’s a versatile player that in Nashville, a little bit like us, everybody has to contribute, and he’s kind of out of that vein. We’ve got a couple other Czech players that know him, so we’ll see how that goes... I think he can become a valuable player for us."

Maloney said while Erat is the key player the Coyotes were looking to acquire before the NHL trade deadline on 1 p.m. (Arizona time) on Wednesday, he’s still willing to make more trades if the right deals can be made.

"We'd like to add another NHL forward, maybe a defenseman too," Maloney said.

The Coyotes also acquired forward John Mitchell in the deal for Erat. Mitchell will be assigned to the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine.

Earlier in the day, the Coyotes traded defensemen David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois to the Chicago Blackhawks for a second-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Rundblad played 12 games this season and 26 total for the Coyotes over three seasons.

"Looking at his game, we just thought it really wasn't going to work with us in regards to where we're at and what we need going forward," Maloney said. "With the emergence of Connor Murphy and Brandon Gormley, we just thought that second-round asset is an asset we could use... We're still looking to use that."

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