Photo credit: Hannah Foslien
A little before 5pm, the Washington Capitals traded their future in the hopes of winning a Stanley Cup now: Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta.
Many people, including us, think that is a bad idea. Erat, while a top-six forward, is aging and well compensated. The Caps are now on the hook for his $4.5 million yearly salary for the next two seasons, with a salary cap that is going down by six million next year. He’s scored just four goals this year.
Washington, it seems, wants to win now. If they don’t — and remember it’s a toss-up and whether they’ll even make the playoffs — this trade will have been a bad idea. George McPhee, therefore, has some explaining to do. He did that Wednesday evening.
“I wasn’t going to sell,” McPhee told Monumental Network. “I wasn’t going to attempt to sell anything. We would add if we could and I think we added a real good piece.”
“With the way our club’s been playing I thought I owed it to our players to help them out,” he added. “I heard the players loud and clear the other day when they didn’t want us to be a seller. We think we have a real good hockey club and we’re going to keep pushing for the playoffs here.”
McPhee insisted, though, that while the Capitals were giving up a highly regarded young prospect, they didn’t think of it as a short-term deal. Instead, it was filling a hole the Caps have: a lack of talented wingers.
“We wanted a top-six forward,” McPhee said of Erat. “We just thought it was a real good fit for our club; it’s hard to get top-six forwards, he’s an established player, he’s got a lot of miles in him.”
“It’s not a rental,” he added. “He’s going to be with us for a while.”
This move, however, is a gamble. McPhee, while confident, acknowledged that to an extent.
“To get a player like Erat, and Latta, you have to give up a good player, and we gave up a good player in Forsberg,” the GM said. “We’re able to do it because I think we’re drafting well. As long as you draft well you can make these moves.”
Latta, meanwhile, is a young, quality minor-leaguer who has registered 34 points in the AHL this season. The deal obviously isn’t centered around him, but McPhee likes what he’s getting.
“He’s a gritty kid who plays the game hard,” said McPhee. “I think he’ll be a good fit for us in the near future.”
Time will tell whether this trade filled a hole that was preventing the team from ultimate success or was a short-sighted move that mortgaged their future.