Patrick Smith - Erat

Photo: Patrick Smith

This was inevitable.

Capitals forward Martin Erat has been traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Rostislav Klelsa, Chris Brown and a fourth-round draft pick. Capitals prospect Garrett John Mitchell was also included in the deal.

Acquired at the 2013 deadline along with Michael Latta in exchange for Caps prospect Filip Forsberg, Erat played 61 regular season games for the Capitals, recording 2 goals and 24 assists.

Considered a disappointment by many, Erat still managed to rank second in even-strength assists and improve the team’s possession stats.

Erat’s 2013 season was limited by injury. As 2013-14 began, Erat had fallen out of favor with coach Adam Oates. Assigned to the fourth line for the first few weeks, Erat was not used as the top-six forward he was purported to be, and his stats suffered. He did not score until the final game before the Olympic break, an empty-netter.

After several games as a scratch, Erat requested a trade on November 25th. It took three months, but that trade has finally come through.

This is just one of many chapters in the saga of George McPhee’s asset management. Martin Erat was traded for Filip Forsberg, who was drafted in a pick acquired for Semyon Varlamov, who was drafted in a pick acquired for Brendan Witt, who was drafted by the Caps in 1993. Erat could have been an indispensable top-six forward for the Caps through 2015, but that did not happen.

Erat’s talents were certainly wasted by Adam Oates, but his individual performance had been in decline long before he came to the Capitals.

chart_1 (6)

On April 3rd of last year, I called Forsberg-Erat a bad trade. That ended up being correct, but I was absolutely wrong about how. Erat ended up being a terrific player for the Caps, one of the best playmakers on the roster– even if the boxcar stats didn’t testify so. He still represented an overconfidence in the team’s ability to win in the spring of 2013, but Martin was never a problem on the ice. The only problem was how little ice Oates gave him. That forced McPhee’s hand, and here we are.

The saga continues.

We will have more coverage on the trade later.

UPDATE: Here’s the press release from the Caps

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have acquired forward Chris Brown, defenseman Rostislav Klesla and a fourth-round draft pick in the 2015 NHL Draft from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for forwards Martin Erat and John Mitchell, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Brown, 23, played in six games with the Coyotes this season, collecting 17 penalty minutes. In addition, he recorded 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) and 68 penalty minutes in 51 games with the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League (AHL). Last season, Brown led the Pirates and all AHL rookies in scoring (29 goals) and ranked tied for third in the AHL with 14 power-play goals. He also made his NHL debut and

During the 2011-12 season, Brown recorded 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) and 66 penalty minutes in 38 games with University of Michigan (CCHA), setting career highs in assists, points and penalty minutes. Brown led all Michigan rookies in 2009-10 with 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists), and led the team with seven power-play goals in 45 games. He was also named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. Brown registered 80 points (34 goals, 46 assists) and 183 penalty minutes in 125 regular season games during his three-year career with the Wolverines. The Flower Mound, Texas native was the first ever Michigan recruit from the state of Texas.

Prior to his career at Michigan, Brown played for the United States National Under-18 Team at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP). As an 18-year-old, he recorded 38 points (20 goals, 18 assists) and a team-leading 120 penalty minutes in 62 games in 2008-09 and also ranked second on the team with 10 power play goals. He helped lead Team USA to the gold medal in the 2009 IIHF Under-18 World Championship in North Dakota, collecting seven points (four goals, three assists) in seven games.

In addition, Brown also won a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York, registering three points (two goals, one assist) in six games and a gold medal at the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Brown was selected by the Coyotes in the second round (36th overall) in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Klesla, 31, collected four points (one goal, three assists) and 24 penalty minutes with the Coyotes this season. The native of Novy Jicin, Czech Republic, is a 14-year NHL veteran who has played for Columbus and Phoenix. The 6’3’’, 215-pound defenseman has appeared in 659 NHL games, recording 159 points (48 goals, 111 assists) and 620 penalty minutes. Additionally, Klesla has collected nine points (two goals, seven assists) and 11 penalty minutes in 23 career playoff games. Klesla was originally drafted by the Blue Jackets in the first round (fourth overall) in the 2000 NHL Draft.

Both Brown and Klesla will report to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.

Erat, 32, collected 24 points (one goal, 23 assists) and 22 penalty minutes in 53 games with the Capitals this season. Mitchell, 27, recorded six points (three goals, three assists) in 20 games with the Bears this season.

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  • Freedoooom

    I think we won this deal… I was making Rihanna jokes until I saw Yotes fans were pissed about losing him.

  • Jack Conness

    I loved Marty. I thought people trashed him too much. But he wanted to go so they had to please him. I hope this deal works for both teams. Best of luck to him.

  • Roy Schue

    Yes!!! Good bye Erat, and we got more than a bag of potatoes back for him

  • Rob W.
  • Bradley Spies

    FYI, it’s John Mitchell, not Garrett, in the deal.

  • Klelsaywhat??

    Klesla, not Klelsa. You messed up my google search.

    I still don’t know who this guy is.

  • Bradley Spies

    Don’t know that I think Klesla is anything to care about here (well, I’d take him over Erskine, but I might take me over Erskine) but Brown seems like he might actually be something, so that’s cool. The legacy of Stevens lives on, even if by the slimmest of margins!

  • disolitude

    Erat was a good player but with Penner and possibly Kozya on the way this had to happen. Biggest win is the salary cap space they just freed up. As far as the players they got… anyone know if Rostislav is good enough to crack the caps top 6 on D? I don’t know anything about this guy.

  • Matt Lauer

    I agree that Erat was a strong possession player, but I’m less sanguine on his overall value. I’m curious to see what Klesla will do for the team (if anything), and what his actual cap hit is (anybody know?). But overall, the loss of Erat doesn’t bother me that much.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Best of luck to Marty. Got a very raw deal here in DC. Icing on the cake to what was such an awful trade. Sergey seems to be excited about this Brown kid, so that’s nice. Vogs reporting both him and Klesla are being sent to Hershey.

  • Jim Kelly

    How does this kid have 40k followers on Twitter?

  • CHris

    I actually like this trade we got a AHLer in brown who can continue to grow and maybe become a nhler and we get some help on the back with kesla and most importantly we get rid of erats contract even though with penner and klelsa we just barley gain some room for kunetsov. Penner can fill in to Erats role so they don’t have to rush Kunestov. I am most happy that we didn’t have to package a real asset with Erat in order to move him. So far pretty happy with GMGM’s moves.

  • Alex Hughes

    I really like Marty here, Oates just didn’t give him any shot. Sure he didn’t shoot a lot but he was a very positive player and made his line better. He was just starting to heat up too.

  • Troy

    Cap room for KUZY and Penny, maybe some trade bait for Halak too with Klesla and the pick

  • RY

    i can dig it

  • Troy

    No way dude Penner takes Mojo’s spot, KUZY takes the spot of Erat, and Mojo can burn for all I care, or use him as trade bait for Halak… 😉

  • Guest

    800 K, the Yotes took some cap.

  • Alex Hughes

    And he gets to come back to Verizon Center on Saturday when the Caps play Phoenix. It’s like he never left. It will be many a Caps reunion with Ribeiro, Erat, and Halpern all coming back.

  • Rob W.

    I think the hate was unfair since he was never used properly but boy does it feel good to finally move past all the talk about him wanting out

  • Freedoooom

    He dated Rihanna.

  • Barrett

    Meh. If anything if frees up cap space by unloading Erat.

  • Matt Mendelsohn

    This is one of those deals that will make the less knowledgable fans happy and satisfy their need for closure on Erat. He’s a bum, he didn’t score, he had that crappy penalty game! But he was given a raw deal from the moment he got here (and was quickly injured sliding into the goal post) and never got his footing. People begrudge him asking for a trade after he was relegated to Knuble Healthy Scratchland, but you can’t really blame him. In the end, and in a season of middle-of-the-pack mediocrity, Erat was actually our second leading even-strength assist leader. And he played hard every shift.

    Happy that this saga is over, for him and for a return to the planets in alignment, but the guy was not even close to being the bum many folks made him out to be. I wish him well.

  • rotearth

    and they still haven’t fixed it

  • X

    awesome day of trades by George Mcphee imo

  • Shaggy

    Still doesn’t free up enough room for Kuznetsov, with Hillen coming back online. But good day for GMGM …

  • We did about 10 minutes ago. First few tweets (from reputable sources) were wrong. Sorry.

  • Pat

    Yes it does. Kuznetsov will be Pro-rated.

  • CapsCast

    Well said

  • Matt Mendelsohn


  • Shaggy

    Looks like that gives them about $1.1M post trade, then deduct Hillen, if my capgeek use is about right. What does Kuznetsov pull from the cap?

  • Shaggy

    Looks like 900K. Point taken, squeezed in under, pending Hillen’s pro-rate?

  • yv

    Not bad GMGM. Hershey needs reinforcements.
    I was afraid that we stuck with Erat forever. The most important part of the trade is now famous 4th pick! After today the going price for it has started for 1M$ (MP), then it became 2M$ (Penner) and current, not yet final price is 2.8M$ (Robidas). GM should send it now for 4M$ Dman!).

  • Roy Schue

    Yeah I could tell he was catching fire with that sick empty net goal

  • Hockey mom

    I liked him too and thought he was completely under used and appreciated here. I wish him the best in PHX.

  • Pat

    Orlov and Hillen make pretty much the same money. I assume they will just send Orlov to hershey and bring Hillen up.

  • Bradley Spies

    Where are you hearing/seeing that?

  • Justin

    I liked Marty, as well. I was really hoping that he would pan out with the Caps, but with him falling into disfavor with Oates, it was only a matter of time before he was served his walking papers. I feel it must really put a strain on the locker room when one of your teammates has made it public that he doesn’t want to be there. I’m glad we were able to move him without giving up too much, and even securing ourselves a replacement 4th round pick for the one we spent on Penner, whom I feel will be a very good locker room presence. I’m not sold on Klesla yet and what he brings to the table, but once again GMGM has succeeded in giving the Caps faithful HOPE.

  • Seth Winship

    He gets what he wants and needs. Good for him I hope he does well. At least he wasn’t weighing the option of going to the stinkin Pens. I’m looking at you Semin…

  • Guest


  • Guest

    Essentially what GMGM did was trade Erat and Mitchell for Penner, Ksesla, and Brown since we got our 4th rounder back in the PHX trade.

  • Jared

    Essentially what GMGM did was trade Erat and Mitchell for Penner, Ksesla, and Brown since we got our 4th rounder back in the PHX trade.

  • Bradley Spies

    Ah, I see what you’re talking about. I interpreted that differently, as him just not pro-rating the Klesla deal, but it’s possible that there’s more to it than that. Would be interesting.

  • Joe

    Klesla is injury prone and won’t score much, but this part of the scouting report below sounds like exactly what we need: “Has ideal NHL size, and he loves to hit people. Can shut opposing
    forwards down. Possesses hockey sense and a little offensive ability
    from the blueline.”

    Let’s hope that’s what we get.

  • johnnymorte

    I’m glad this selfish prick is gone. Yes he had good numbers and possession stats, but he had a prima donna attitude from the beginning. You don’t come from a top six in Nashville and automatically expect to play a top six role with a team like the Caps. When you make millions of dollars as a pro, you have to prove yourself every day like every other player He expected red carpet treatment from the beginning, and when he didn’t get it, he started whining to the media. Glad you got sent to the desert Marty. No cup for you! Enjoy golfing in Scottsdale.

  • Myan

    Disappointed to see him go but I really think it’s for the best in the long run. I don’t want anybody here if they don’t want to be here. Best to luck to him…except when he plays us.

  • yv

    Since both reporting to Hershey, it means that even after Hillen activation and Kuzya’s signing Caps have now flexibility to use about 3.5-4M$ in cap space to get something more important before trade deadline.

  • yv

    Since both reporting to Hershey, Caps have now flexibility of using 3.5M-4M$, even after Hillen activation and Kuzya’s signing, to get something important before trade deadline.

  • Bobandy Lahey

    Erat got a raw deal from the get go. We rarely gave him a shot to play
    to his potential. But, when we did, he didn’t do much/ didn’t really prove to be a viable top six guy. The fact that we heard about him asking for a trade multiple times is what pissed me off. He had every right to ask for a trade, but when it becomes public, the organization looses the upper hand cause everyone other teams knows that you have to get rid of him. Not to mention, there definitely wasn’t a huge market for him. I wish players would just quietly go to the GM and ask for a trade, even if they do so repeatedly. No idea how it leaked, but I feel like players should be more discreet.

  • Bradley Spies

    Given that it didn’t leak for what, 2 months? Seems like he was rather discreet at first.

  • Roy Schue

    It didn’t leak, 3 weeks after his initial private request he went to the press with it. He is a complete douche.

  • Roy Schue

    Two months was his second request. He went to the press with it rather quickly

  • OlietheGoalie

    So who was at fault? McPhee?

  • OlietheGoalie

    If he scores I’ll eat my shoe.

  • Muskrat42

    Well said

  • Eric Schulz

    It will also make knowledgeable fans ecstatic, since we need a guy like Klesla, and Erat was redundant on this team, as evidenced by his getting “a raw deal from the moment he got here.” I bear him no ill will, and I have no problem with how he played when he was here, but the trade to get him was horrible on every level, and I’m so, so, so excited about the return. I’d’ve been very, very happy with Klesla for Erat straight-up; throwing in Brown as well is amazing.

  • Jack Conness

    I agree with you. The Erat-Forsberg trade was awful but I really like this one. Adding Klesla, Brown, and a draft pick for a guy who wanted out and Mitchell is a pretty sweet return. GMGM is 2 for 2 today. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

  • Joey Doukmetzian

    Would rather have had John Mitchell and Marty for Rusty and Biz Nasty. Imagine a BizNasty/Wilso/Beags line lolololololololololol

  • Safoster

    Erat’s crappy boxcar production is one of two things – 1. He resisted Oates’ coaching and position change, or 2. He’s not good enough to play a different position than RW. Either one is bad.

    Oates has asked a lot of his forwards, but when they have accepted his coaching, they have flourished. Eric Fehr has turned into quite a nice player, and he has flourished with inconsistent linemates, juggling of positions (he has played LW, RW and C this season), and even some time in the press box. Bottom line is he worked, got better, didn’t complain, and actually scored once in a while. While his boxcar stats are very similar to Erat’s, we demand more of Erat, considering his contract and what was traded to acquire him. Erat has played 1L, 2L, 2C, 3C, 4L, 4C. He’s FAILED EVERYWHERE except 3C, where it has proven that anyone can be successful flanking Ward and Chimera. I’d wager that over half the TOI he’s seen this season has been in the top six, where he’s sucked. Period. Basically, I argue that your claim of “misuse” by Oates means “he didn’t play him at RW”. He’s a professional hockey player. Switching sides as a forward is achievable. We all know Ovi has flourished at his position change, but he didn’t until he actually bought in and accepted Oates’ coaching. He made the change and made the effort. Erat never did.

    He’s a negative possession player too. 49% CF – a whopping 0.6% above RMNB whipping boys Laich and Brouwer. He taken quite a few bad penalties. He’s a whiner. He was not a “terrific” player for the Caps, just a whiny, aging malcontent that never fit. Good freaking riddance. Now fire McPhee for making the trade in the first place.

  • Owen Johnson

    Too bad. He was misused from the start. I tried to point out to people that, despite his lack of goals, that pretty much any line he was put on was always productive.
    Still, it’s a move that needed to happen. We dump salary of a player who was pretty redundant, due to being woefully misused.
    Also, how are the players we got? I honestly don’t know much about them.

  • Marky Narc

    Although we are obviously not past the trade deadline yet, and there may still be more deals in the works, I am very happy that we were able to make both of these deals without giving up Brouwer, Chimera, or Ward.

  • Owen Johnson

    PLEASE no Halak. I never want to see that guy again. Brings back too many painful memories.

  • Eric Schulz

    These trades are McDonald’s!!!

  • Owen Johnson

    Oh, maybe I shoulda read the press release.

  • Eric Schulz

    (I’m loving it.)

  • Roy Schue

    Couldn’t have said it better myself…well done!!!

  • “Erat’s crappy boxcar production is one of two things – 1. He resisted Oates’ coaching and position change, or 2. He’s not good enough to play a different position than RW. Either one is bad.”

    You’re not even gonna entertain the idea that his ice declined by FIVE MINUTES PER GAME and he spent the first few weeks playing with AARON VOLPATTI?

  • yv

    sorry for double posts, a lot of sites tonight hanging too long.
    After clarification and according to capgeek, Klesla’s contract is considered buried one, which means his cap hit is 925K$ less than his original cap hit of 2.975M$, ie 2.050M$, unless Phoenix took off some salary. Caps have around 2M$ in space to work with.

  • Matt McNeely

    I’m gonna say as long as we managed to not retain any of his salary, any deal would have been good for us. Relieved that GMGM got that done.

  • Alex Hughes

    Oh you know it will happen, there is too much irony for it not to happen

  • GMGM, the day after the trade, called Martin Erat a top six forward. HOW DARE MARTIN ERAT TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD.

  • tim

    i do think Marty got a little underutilized here. but i can’t agree with this statement: “Erat ended up being a terrific player for the Caps”

    simply not true. he showed flashes of good play, but he couldn’t score AT ALL and he made plenty of mistakes. i agree that his treatment vs. MoJo given their stats doesn’t make sense. but it’s not just that he got a raw deal here. he just plain isn’t worth his contract nor the accolades given his game.

    the trade to bring him here was, as we all know, terrible. we could have traded Forsberg for a better package then what we got for Erat and co. Better d-man, no doubt. That said, this is a solid trade that makes sense on many levels.

  • bskillet

    Good riddance, sorry for him but he never fit. He works hard but we won’t miss a thing w/o him. That’s two down but probably lose a couple more tom., hopefully in a deal for a top 6 defenseman.

  • No player got more assists per minute than Erat– and he played with pretty weak linemates compared to the top six.

  • tim

    your analogy using Fehr is a good one. he approached the situation exactly the opposite of Erat. he’s had success as a result and he’s solid on 3rd/4th

  • RESmith

    I doubt you will see ‘Rusty’ play in DC this year unless there another couple of injuries on the blueline. This was a move only to give the Caps some cap space and his contract will be buried in Hershey. Plus, he hasn’t been more than a third pairing Dman for several years now.

  • Safoster

    I have no doubt that him resisting Oates’ coaching was the reason he was stuck on the fourth line at the beginning of the season. That’s exactly what he did to Ovi by sticking him with Beagle and Crabb last season. Ovi got the message. Erat did not.

    Grabo’s ice time is only what, 2 minutes above Carlyle’s usage of him? Grabo’s didn’t whine when he was playing 3rd line minutes with no PP and basically the same TOI as Carlyle used him, he adjusted, produced, and flourished. Erat took the low road where others took the high one.

    Loser attitude.

  • Safoster

    Assists from a LW are completely redundant when you have a player like Marcus Johansson, who makes less than half as much and carries more upside. The 4 goals he had in NSH should have been a red flag for McPhee last year when trying to up goal scoring on the left side for his team.

    I have no idea why you love this guy so much, other than the fact that you hate Oates and want to have a martyr. He’s gone, and Dustin Penner is an upgrade. That in itself is pretty sad.

  • RESmith

    Erat moving to Phoenix might be a good fit for him. Dave Tippett might be a conservative, defensive-oriented coach but he pays some attention to analytics and employs it in his player utilization: You all have noted Erat is a decent possession player who protects the puck and that should fit in well with Tippett’s style of coaching.

  • That you think I love Erat and hate Oates tells me that you haven’t been paying attention. I have always been about exploring the nuances and shades of meaning here. Good/bad isn’t a light switch; it’s a spectrum.

    Note that the body of this article contains one graph, and that graph shows how much Erat had fallen off over the last 5 years.

  • Safoster

    I have been paying attention, but maybe I’m misinterpreting. In your Boston recap, you say the Caps were without “two of their best players” in Grabo and Erat. That, along with your conclusion that Erat has been “terrific” in his tenure here leads me to believe that you value his game more than most.

    You also dig Oates while pumping Erat in the article before you present your data: “Erat’s talents in Washington were certainly wasted by Adam Oates, but…” That, to me, reads Oates had a great player and didn’t know how to use him.

    Then you present your data, but come to the conclusion that Erat was terrific. Cite ES assists and rate stats all you want, but he’s 9th on the team in primary points and eighth on the team in ES primary points (Tied with Brouwer). Could he have gotten some more ice and been more productive, sure, but I personally don’t think that while he played here he earned that right to additional TOI.

    To set it straight, I don’t mind you digging on Oates. Oates does some weird stuff that I don’t like too, and I really appreciate the way you call out stuff that seems tactically wrong. I do, however, believe in hierarchy in a team construct and still believe that Coach knows best when you’re playing in a team environment. Oates needs complete buy-in and wants all his players to play a certain way…no exceptions for anyone. In this case, reading the situation, I think Erat took an unprofessional attitude to a situation he didn’t like. I could be completely wrong, and probably am – but I am glad he’s outta here because he sure as hell didn’t fit with the Caps.

  • A_Shoe

    It will most definitely be an OTGWG.

  • Eric Schulz

    Without this trade, the Penner trade is kind of puzzling; after this one, the Penner trade makes a lot more sense (replacing Erat; I know we were trying to move Erat, so you could argue that adding Penner made sense knowing that, but we hadn’t moved Erat yet so I wasn’t sold on the trade at the time it was consummated) and it’s very low risk.
    In a vacuum, I’d rather have Penner than Erat; he seems a better fit for the top line, adding size and a simple game, hopefully being a big body that can fight in the corners and screen goalies to make the game easier for Ovie and Backstrom. Add in that he’s cheaper and a UFA after the year, and we can probably let him walk and we should be able to re-sign Grabovski AND Klesla; if we kept Erat, I don’t think we re-sign both, maybe neither. We may not re-sign both (I really, really hope we do), but money isn’t the issue now, at least.

  • Fedor

    Really excited for Brown.

  • Shaun Phillips

    That’s really the only thing it does. That and get the 4th round pick back. Congrats GMGM, you just traded a top 6 forward for 2 AHLers…

  • Shaun Phillips

    With Ribs setting it up.

  • Shaun Phillips

    There’s a difference between playing 3rd line minutes (almost 2nd line minutes) with two NHL-tested veterans and playing 4th line minutes with a rookie and a career AHLer. Also, I don’t remember a single time this year when Grabo wasn’t on the PP.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Except Mojo doesn’t produce at the same level that Erat did at even strength. Mojo is largely dependent on PP production and disappears during 5v5. And that’s playing with the top players.

  • DashingDave314

    Very good perspective. Think this means that Kuznetsov will be the second line center until Grabovski is back.

  • rotearth


  • Joe

    Well that’s disappointing. Guess I’m a little anxious for us to have a top-4 d-man. Hopefully we acquire one today.

  • Rhino40

    Hard-working, agressive player, strong on the puck. If only he had been used correctly, it would have been good for him, good for the Caps–indeed, good for everyone except those who suffer from MDS (McPhee Derangement Syndrome), who always seem to come up with reasons why Everything GMGM Does Is Wrong, Even If it Looks Right.
    We will miss you Marty. Best of luck, and thanks for not going to Pittsburgh.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    Hat trick…