The Washington Capitals made a big move just before the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline passed, adding Martin Erat and Michael Latta from the Nashville Predators for 2012 first-round pick Filip Forsberg.
Washington general manager George McPhee announced the trade Wednesday on the Capitals Report podcast. Erat has four goals and 21 points in 36 games for the Predators this season. The 31-year-old has produced at least 49 points in seven straight seasons and eight of the past nine for Nashville. He was a seventh-round pick in the 1999 NHL Draft by the franchise.
Erat has a no-movement clause in his contract, but he granted approval to the deal to join the Capitals.
"It is always difficult to trade a player who was drafted, developed and who has produced for the franchise for many years such as Martin Erat, however, Marty came to us in recent days and indicated a trade might be in his best interests," Nashville general manager David Poile said on the team's website. "Thus, the process began and we were able to explore options with our primary goal being to acquire a young top end forward that would address our most critical need. We thank Martin for all his contributions to the Predators’ success over the years and wish him and his family the best in Washington."
The Capitals have moved to within two points of the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets and have two games in hand.
Most of the trade deadline chatter about the Capitals centered on them potentially dealing center Mike Ribeiro, who can be an unrestricted free agent in July. Instead, McPhee made a play for a top-six wing and indirectly someone to replace the departed Alexander Semin as a complementary scorer to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
"I wanted to help this team now," McPhee told reporters. "I wasn't interested in trading any of our guys who are unrestricted players."
Forsberg was one of two first-round picks for Washington in 2012, taken at No. 11. He had 15 goals and 33 points in 38 games for Leksands in the second division in Sweden. He also was the captain for Sweden's entry in the 2013 World Junior Championship. The Capitals acquired the pick from the Colorado Avalanche in the deal for goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
"With one of the best goaltenders in the world in Pekka Rinne, and the top defenseman in the game today in Shea Weber, along with Roman Josi, Kevin Klein and other young defensemen we continue to develop, we believe we are well positioned at these two positions, but have lacked a dynamic offensive forward." Poile said to the team's website. "In Filip Forsberg, we are adding one of the top rated young forwards in the world; we are excited to have him join our other emerging young talent and solid veterans at the position.
"We have used draft picks in recent years to add players at the trade deadline. Over the last several years, we traded away four first round picks. It was imperative that we add a potentially dynamic offensive forward such as Forsberg. Our goal remains the same: to win the Stanley Cup. We believe our current team is a playoff-caliber team. At the same time, we have to be mindful of the long term and this deal allows us to acquire a top-end young offensive forward that will help us."
Latta was a third-round pick by the Predators in the 2009 NHL Draft. He has nine goals, 35 points and 184 penalty minutes for the Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League this season.