After only 32 games with the Washington Capitals, right winger Martin Erat wants out. Unhappy over his limited playing time, the 32-year-old recently requested a trade.
The Capitals acquired Erat and center Michael Latta from the Nashville Predators at last season’s trade deadline in exchange for highly touted prospect Filip Forsberg. That move earned GM George McPhee considerable criticism for what some observers considered a panicky late move.
Asked if he had any regrets, McPhee defended the deal, but there’s no question Erat failed to play up to expectations during his short tenure with the Capitals. The 19-year-old Forsberg, meanwhile, has seen limited action (in part due to injuries) with the Predators, but he is still considered to have a promising future.
Erat has a full no-movement clause, but McPhee told the Post he doesn’t expect that to be an issue, claiming the Erat is being flexible and accommodating about potential destinations. With only 30 points since the start of last season and an annual cap hit of $4.5 million through 2014-15, the Capitals won’t find many takers. Even with Erat’s actual salary of $3.8 million for this season dropping to $2.25 million next season, that still doesn’t make him attractive trade bait.
McPhee could offer to pick up part of Erat’s contract, but he said he’s not considering that possibility. The best option could be a dollar-for-dollar swap of Erat for another toxic contract. McPhee could attempt to move the winger to a rebuilding club with cap space and a willingness to spend – hello there, Calgary Flames – but he would have to part with a draft pick or a promising prospect as a sweetener. He also won’t want to take on much salary in return, preferring to leave as much cap space as possible for later moves this season.
Failing that, McPhee could demote Erat, if he’s willing to accept it, which would provide the Capitals with only $925,000 in salary cap relief. McPhee could then use the Capitals remaining compliance buyout next summer to dump the remaining year of Erat’s contract.
HAVLAT? HAVE NOT?
Agent Allan Walsh, who represents San Jose Sharks right winger Martin Havlat, recently took to Twitter dismissing trade rumors about his client, but that hasn’t silenced the speculation.
Shortly after Walsh’s denials appeared, Sun Media’s Chris Stevenson claimed a scout told him the rumor was Havlat returning to Ottawa with former Sharks left winger Milan Michalek heading back to San Jose.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claimed the Sharks were indeed shopping Havlat, stating there was “mild interest” from the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers. Larry Brooks of the New York Post, however, reported the Rangers have no interest in the oft-injured winger.
Considering Havlat’s long injury history and his $5 million cap hit (in which he’ll draw $6 million in actual salary next season), it’s difficult to believe anyone has even mild interest in him.
HOW CAN THE OILERS LAND A DEFENSEMAN?
Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish recently stated his willingness to move his 2014 first round pick for a top-two defenseman, but while that pick could be a high one (possibly among the top five) he’ll have to offer up more to land the blueliner he seeks.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jonathan Willis recently examined MacTavish’s options, ruling out players who won’t be moved, like youngsters Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz.
Veterans like right winger Ales Hemsky and D-man Nick Schultz have little trade value. Willis suggests they could bundle one of their defense prospects with that pick, though they prefer to retain top prospect Oscar Klefbom. Even so, Willis concedes there’s not much they could offer that would excite rival GMs.
Unless MacTavish is willing to package one of his good young forwards with his 2014 first-round pick, he’ll be forced to pursue a top defenseman via the 2014 free agent market.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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