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.

  • Buck

    “I will trade you my charamander for your pidgey and ratatat” – GMGM’s thinking

  • ChuchutrainLA

    wow!! Did not see it coming. I think we just traded a low-payment Lexus GS F-type for a 4-cylander Camry with a payment of BMW and we will lose it in a year or two. Forsberg was going to be a franchise player…..

  • LOL at all you noobs salivating over the 38th highest point scorer in the Swedish second league.

  • rubeus

    The correct analogy is charmander for a pidgeot and ratatta. If we are going to be making pokemon analogies anyways.

  • rubeus

    And that only holds if Forsberg ever evolves into a charizard.

  • I’m warming up to it.

  • northernMD

    Thats the acceptance stage… doesn’t mean its well founded since now we’re stuck with this team that has ONE quality win (OT against boston) this season for the next two years cuz no other help is coming, especially if we’re committed to resigning ribero. Seeing Mackinnon/Jones/Drouin next year on other teams is going to make me so mad.

  • We didn’t have a shot in hell at Seth Jones anyway. We were destined to finish out of the lottery because everyone else sucks so much. And now Ovie 2.0 comes through and we currently have a chance at the Southeast.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Is this Jadegold?

  • northernMD

    I love Ovie, but he’s not scoring a goal a game going fwd like he’s been doing for the last 2 weeks. No one expects that i hope. Also, i don’t think you realize but we were only 4 points out of the third worst spot monday, not completely unrealistic. Especially if we traded ribero for pick and prospect. Would love to see how we’re going to resign him and alzner now. We have no help coming until 2014-15 now.. awesome.

  • nope

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Something doesn’t add up. GMGM NEVER gives up high-ranked prospects of his so soon. Not that I was very high on Forsberg, but I was shocked that he was actually dealt. Either Forsberg is not the prospect the Caps thought he was, or GMGM is really desperate to save his job and is making a move to ensure this team wins the division to get into the playoffs.

  • MAYBE a pidgeotto with shitty iv/ev counts. no pidgeot here.

  • rubeus

    I prefer the pejorative nubcakes over noobs.

  • i’m guessing #2

  • David

    Like I said on the previous article, this was a move to preserve the fan base for the near future. If the Verizon Center stays filled without winning a Stanley Cup, why should Ted care about building a true contender and winning a championship?

  • I was in that same boat as early as yesterday, up until we scored the 4th and 5th goal against the Hurriwhales.

    And to say we have no help until 2014-15 is very subjective. Tom Wilson almost made our lineup this season, he’ll be a nice addition when his time comes. Also, you can’t tell the future. Trades and free agent additions can always happen.

  • northernMD

    Really like what i’ve seen from wilson, but i dont’ think many people expect him to play next year. Also, my point was that either we resign ribero/alzner and have pretty much no cap space to do anything else, or we don’t, and good luck finding someone better than ribs out there to fill the 2C.

    Which was my point about why we should have traded ribs. Would have been too hard to keep him anyway, might as well have sucked it up this season, traded him for mid/late first round draft pick and or prospect.. and sucked our way to a top 3 pick. Oh well.. hope for the best but i just don’t see it.

  • If he puts 7 shots on goal every game, he can score almost every game. He’s been shooting more lately, which is even more encouraging then his goals.


    and exiled to vermillion city

  • northernMD

    Right.. but he’s not going to continue a 80 goal pace forever was my point. Which was possibly inflating how good the caps team was.. along with playing terrible teams.

  • If Holtby gets hot, anything can happen.

    As far as trading McRib, I wanted that too, but he’s here and I’m glad to have him as long as we have him. I see him as currently a rental player, we didn’t give up too much (except my then favourite cap/bear and i haz a sad) and he’s here to help us in the here and now.

  • Ahh, point taken!

    In fact, I think the slow march of time and its effect on Ovi is one of the best reasons to mortgage the team’s future and give em a chance to win now. It’s not my fave argument, but I see its appeal.

  • rubeus

    I take what your saying here to mean that Erat, on the pokemon scale of awesomeness, isn’t even on the level of a Pigeot? Maybe if you were only taking into account the 151 pokemon in the original red/blue games where Pidgeot could still be reasonably compared to a legit top 6 forward in the NHL in overall team effectiveness. Those days are gone however, which you should know if you have kept up with the metagame. If anything, I shortchanged Erat by comparing the two, but I did so for brevity sake. Pidgeot is arguably the worst of all the 3 evolution flying/normal types in both overall statistics and in moveset, and this is assuming max IV counts and proper EV training. But to say only a Pidgeotto’s worth and a mediocre one at that? Pshaw! But I digress.


  • rubeus

    sorry, I had to defend my poke-cred

  • deej

    “It’s not a rental, he’s going to be with us for a while [during his declining years while being overpaid]”.

  • …who was 18-years-old and playing in a league with men. Leksand won the regular season championship and will play in the Elitserien next season too.

  • Holtby’s chances of playing above average are exactly the same as are his chances of playing below average.

  • Unless this Rattata ends up in the top percentage of Rattatas, which…. probably won’t happen since GMGM is not Youngster Joey.

  • And we always have to worry about regression from a Raticate back to Rattata. Raticate-level performance is not sustainable in the post-GBA NHL.

  • That kind of scares me, but when he’s on, he’s on.

    I pray every night (not really) that he’s our franchise goaltender and hybrid of Patrck Roy and Marty.

  • Rhino40

    PIKAAAAAAAA!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA))))))) best!

  • YOU CAN’T UN-EVOLVE IN POKÉMON, PETER (Unless you press B during evolution).

  • What if Forsberg was Eevee and Erat was like a poorly leveled Venusaur, still using a bunch of bad powers from back when he was a Bulbasaur?

    Perfect analogy? Perfect analogy.

  • Rhino40

    That’s very Pok€ of you…

  • americant

    goddammit mcphee

  • americant

    so hosed

  • I’d hardly call Swedes men… 😛

    And Leksand has flipped back and forth form the first and second leagues for years. But the fact remains – he hasn’t proven himself amongst real competition. Seriously, I live in Europe, I see these leagues, I’m a DEL season ticket holder. I don’t think you fully appreciate how much lower the level of competition is for the Swedish second league compared to even the AHL.

    Further, this trade was supported by the Caps scouts, unanimously. How many hours have you watched this kid play?

  • GuestZ

    Future or not, we still needed to find Ovi a LW noooooowwwww. MOJO might be “getting better,” but he still kinda sucks. And since Chimera is sucking wind this season with each shot he’s attempted (cept for his 1), we have no valid 2LW. Move MOJO down, Erat to 1LW, and let’s see some sick #’s start piling up!

  • I’ve probably watched 2 hours of Forsberg’s play, but a lot of that was tourney play– very little league time outside of highlights.

    Things to consider: Those scouts were GM’s employees. Those scouts aren’t strategists. They were asked for approval of a trade proposed by their boss, who is probably besieged in his job and might lose it if the team doesn’t make the playoff.

    Their vote means almost nothing to me.

  • yv

    This is completely out of blue trade and difficult to judge right now. Considering what others paid for top guys this looks like overpayment, but we will see tomorrow and next couple games what Erat will bring for the team. I will not stress too much on his age and production, he still younger than Ribs. And having regularly 50-60 points in Nashville, might mean 70-80 points pace with Ovi and Nicky. This is future now trade made by GM who see great opportunity to seize, at-least, division and go from there. In baseball it happens probably every month. It could be something or will burn you, only not so distant time will tell.

  • Definitely number 2. Forsberg has played at a higher level and put up better numbers since he was drafted, there is no reason that the caps would consider him less promising then when they drafted him.

  • Well if we’re going down the road of conspiracy theories and impugning the professional integrity of people because it doesn’t fit a narrative we’ve constructed based on watching 2 hours of tournament play… well I don’t know what to say to that.

  • Jim, thanks for commenting. I’ve watched several games that he’s played in and almost all of his goals this season. I’ve also interviewed him one-on-one and seen him play in two games in Development Camp. He was head and shoulders the most mature player on the ice and the most advanced at Development Camp (and most kids were older than him). He could play PP, PK. He could beat you with skill, he could beat you along the boards. He lays out to block shots.

    He was a WJC All Star. He was the best under-20 year old player in HockeyAllsvenskan.

    I don’t know how many goals or points he’s going to put up in the NHL. It’s worthless to even predict. But this is not a kid you bet against. This is not a kid you trade away unless it’s a deal that puts you over the top.

    Also, have you watched the AHL a lot? I’m not sure I would put HockeyAllsvenskan much below it. Then again, it’s comparing apples and oranges.

  • Yeah, same here.

  • I’m identifying a pretty obvious bias. If you wanna call that impugning integrity, go for it. I don’t. Trades are a business transaction wherein each party weighs its advantage. Don’t you think McPhee’s job is in that equation?

  • I don’t know that I’d say I’ve watched the AHL “a lot”, but I’ve watched it enough to be pretty firmly of the opinion that the second leagues over here don’t compare.

    That said, maybe I’ll eat my words – maybe Forsberg will come over here and make a splash. Heck, for many other reasons you may not feel this was the right move, but the drama associated with all this, the inability to see the reasoning behind it and the potential upside, the full on freak out – that’s something I expect from commenters, not you guys.

    At any rate, in the end it’s your blog so such is life. I guess time will tell who is right. I’m sure I’ll still be reading when we start to know, so I’ll be sure to point and laugh if I’m right or say nothing if I’m wrong. 😛

  • I don’t think McPhee’s job hinged on making this trade, no, that seems like a bit of a stretch. Perhaps one could argue it hinged on making the playoffs, but if this single player is the difference between us making the playoffs or not, I’d say his value exceeds what a lot of commenters are giving it credit for.

  • Well that’s good. I understand why people have reacted to my comments the way they have. I’m okay with it though. If you have a strong opinion about something, you have to be prepared for the pushback.

    My problem with the trade: it’s less about Forsberg and more about where the direction of this franchise is going. They gave up a core guy you can control and get a bunch of value back from for years and years and years. Instead, now they have Erat — in the twilight of his career — who has a cap hit of 4.5 mil. Not a lot of value there. With the team as old and mediocre as it right now, I think it was the wrong thing to do. I want to win a cup, not squeak into the playoffs and lose in the first or second round.

  • Jordan

    Jesus H Christ you people are retarded. Check out Erats’s stats. 50+ points every season since 05/06 on a non-offensive minded team, no less. He is everything we could hope FF to be, but he is HERE… NOW. A consistent vet in e MIDDLE of his career. H is under rated and will overachieve playing with offensive hot shots on our top two lines. MoJo or Laich will move down giving our third line more grit and performance, and we just added another 30 goal/yr scorer to our team.

    The Preds fans rave about this guy, he’s a leader. I’m very happy about this trade, so stop your bickering all you pocket GMs. FF could be an NHL superstar or a AHL bust, but we have a proven top 6 vet to show for it.

  • Yes, that WOULD be a stretch. But that’s also not what I said. How about we try to address the points one another actually makes?

    Leonsis said this team is a playoff contender for the next decade. Right not they’re 50/50 to miss the playoffs. It could be considered McPhee’s mcphailure if they don’t.

    Adding Erat makes their chances of making the playoffs better (I think) and also lessens McPhee’s vulnerability.

    If the Caps miss the playoffs, they’ll get a much more valuable draft pick than they would if the make the playoffs. Just making the dance doesn’t carry much value unless you go far (selling tickets, getting banners, etc.)

  • Sounds like Filip was going to shape up to resemble Nick. Erat is good and will help now for sure with the difference that one may be around for a few years while the other maybe 10-15 yrs. Sure hope Wilson turns out to be what’s expected?

  • Would’ve rather seen a 5 year 20m contract going to ribs… At least we like him and he likes us! Shoulda traded kuzya!

  • mcphee doesnt operate in a vacuum. ted wants to make the playoffs, ovi wants his team together, oates wants to keep looking like eddie munster.

    this was an ugly deal, but theres no way to know if it was a good deal or not until weber kisses the cup.

  • Jordan, thanks for the comment, but please do check out our comment policy re: your first sentence.

    Just for next time

  • also reminder that this is varlamov and cody eakin for ribs, erat and this latta guy that reddit says will turn into steve ott. put into that context, mcphee is doing a hell of a job. ask flames fans, ask flyers fans.

  • Pikachu

    Who turned Ovi into Ovimon and how long will it last? :->

  • I actually don’t think this move does that much in the short term, if anything I am concerned about short term chemistry changes by adding a new player. The team is hot enough right now that I’m skeptical such short term thinking – 10 games, really came into play.

    I think it definitely could have value through the playoffs and potentially beyond though.

  • I can understand that. I guess I’m just surprised by the certainty that he’ll be a core guy. I think Neil posted something to twitter about the average production of people from Forsbergs class, and if I recall it wasn’t even as good as Erat has on an offensively anemic Predators team.

    We’ll see though.

  • I’m not happy with the current chemistry, so I’m all for shaking it up!

  • Not speaking for Ian, but my complaint about the trade isn’t that Forsberg is worth more than Erat or that he would end up being a great player, but that it’s expending future value for present-tense success while the rest of the team needs a LOT of work. It’s taking out a second mortgage on your home to replace the carpet while the drapes are on fire.


  • Jesus Christ

    No “H”, please…it is disrespectful.

  • Rhino40

    As for me, I’ll take a rare and primitive Pokémon like Kabuto or Kabutops

  • Rhino40

    I think Rastamon is responsible…him and his magic dreadlocks attack.

  • Rhino40

    Ya’ want some Ganjamon?