Photo credit: AHL Tumblr

When the Caps traded Filip Forsberg to Nashville Predators, a divided fanbase described the return as “Martin Erat and some other guy”. That other guy, Michael Latta, is more than just an add-in for the deal.

At 21 years of age, Latta, who played for Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, is nearing his NHL debut. Despite his relatively small stature (6-foot, 215 pounds), he hits hard and can drop the gloves. Latta is an agitator, which was one reason why the Caps drafted Tom Wilson last year while talented players like Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Collberg, and Mark Jankowski were still available.

A native of Kitchener, Latta also has some offense to go with the rough stuff. Since his debut in the AHL, he’s been slightly above the .5 point per game mark, pretty good for a player who projects to be a bottom-six NHLer. Through 118 AHL games Latta has 63 points.

Latta was limited by a wrist injury last year, but his 28 points in 51 games were good for seventh on his team in scoring. He was also second in penalty minutes, behind former NHL enforcer Zach Stortini. This year, he was third in points and first in PIMs on the Ads roster.

Latta, who was selected in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Preds, plays where he’s needed. The Caps don’t have many centermen in the system who can step up and play in the NHL. College players like Travis Boyd, Caleb Herbert, and Thomas DiPauli are years away from becoming NHL players — if they ever do. Ryan Potulny and Casey Wellman play both center and wing and, while older than Latta, haven’t been able to establish themselves as NHL players. The Bears’ first-line center is the AHL’s leading point-scorer, Jeff Taffe, who doesn’t have a contract with the Capitals. After his trade to the Caps, Latta has automatically become a #1 Caps center prospect (of course, if you don’t consider Evgeny Kuznetsov as a center, which we do not).

As the Caps acquire more highly-paid players, Latta and his cheap contract may become a boon for the team.

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  • http://twitter.com/dylanwheatley83 dylan wheatley

    gmgm said in his interview that if there was no latta, there’d be no trade. mcphee sees this kid as something special.

  • yv

    He is not so small, same or bigger than Hendricks and Volpatti, should do the same damages as they are. If he also can score and win faceoffs he would be extra prize on top of Erat Fosberg deal.

    On other note, what is going on, does Sam, the Caps games Horn guy, extra working around NHL beside VC?? Only tonight, Pens and SL Blues also have now their own horn with the same “Lets go Pens/Blues, etc”?

  • http://twitter.com/m_roozy88 Matt Root

    Any validity to the rumor GMGM was looking to shop Forsberg in the summer had a deadline deal not taken place? Really making me think the Caps found something out about ole Filip…

  • http://www.facebook.com/djsalo Christoffer Salo Salomonsson

    Is Collberg coming to washington?

  • Rhino40

    I am pretty sure he is ours alone….the others are just cheap imitators.