After spending most of 2013-14 with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Capitals’ center prospect Michael Latta is now poised to gain a full-time roster spot in Washington next season. Acquired at the 2013 trade deadline in the infamous Forsberg-Erat trade, Latta had one goal and four points in 17 NHL games last season but left a good impression, winning 52.2% of his face-offs and playing an effective, physical game on the fourth line. Latta was one of the team’s best players at drawing penalties, leading the team in penalty differential.
Michael Latta came out of nowhere (Nashville’s farm system) to bring dynamism to the bottom line this season. Latta didn’t get a lot of ice in his 17 games, but should he get another crack at the bigs this fall I think we’ll find that Latta is a legit NHL player.
We all had a sad when Steve Oleksy was sent down to Hershey a few weeks ago, but maybe we underestimated the entertainment value of his and Michael Latta‘s friendship. They’re both adept at the Twitter and they both love to joke around.
Yesterday was Oleksy’s 28th birthday, so naturally Latta did something special for his broseph.
Chandler Stephenson has been one of the most impressive Caps prospects this season (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)
The first half of the 2013-14 season has been mostly positive for Washington Capitals prospects. Unknowns like Andre Burakovsky and Chandler Stephenson have shown real NHL potential, while the elder statesmen of the pool like Nate Schmidt and Patrick Wey, both coming off tremendous college careers, have made steps up the Caps’ depth chart.
However, top two Caps prospects will wish their first half was better: Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s injuries have limited his action and Tom Wilson has had a hard time gaining a meaningful role with the big club.
The feel-good story of the season so far has been Stephenson, who had been bugged by injuries in the past, but is now thriving in a veteran role as an offensive go-to guy for his team. I’ve got more on these stories and our full top-20 ranking below. Continue Reading
Twenty-two year old prospect Michael Latta was a throw-in during last year’s blockbuster Filip Forsberg/Martin Erat trade, but in his brief time with the Washington Capitals he has shown a lot of promise. He may yet prove to be the gem of that deal on the Caps’ end.
An hour before the Washington Capitals took on the Philadelphia Flyers, general manager George McPhee made a flurry of roster moves. John Erskine was moved off injured reserve and back on to the active roster, rookie defenseman Nate Schmidt was sent down to the Hershey Bears, and Michael Latta was recalled.
With Mikhail Grabovski out with the flu, Latta centered the Caps’ fourth line. He did so despite suiting up the night before in Hershey. Sunday was Latta’s fourth game in five days.
“I got called at 10 o’clock this morning,” Latta told CSN’s Al Koken. “I got on my horse, got in the car, got my gear at the rink, and headed up here.”
When asked if he was tired from playing the night before, Latta smiled and responded,”You always got a little adrenaline when you get called up here. So it’s okay definitely.”
On November 30, 2013, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Ballgame. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
Like the Bond marathon on SyFy over the last few days, the Washington Capitals are a fickle thing. Lately, the Caps have mixed the sublime elegance of the Sean Connery era with the confusing stupor of the Timothy Dalton movies. More often than not, it’s been the latter.
Plainly, they didn’t deserve to win yesterday’s game. Only the godlike brilliance of Eric Fehr kept the Caps from a fifth straight loss. They did win, however, and got their tired asses on a plane to hell Long Island this morning. With Braden Holtby making his second start in as many days, the setup for this one didn’t look good.
Washington’s start, however, was better than we’ve come to expect. Though New York handily outshot them early, the Caps controlled possession. The teams traded chances, with no one converting. Hey, that’s better than being 3-0 after 20!
As usual, the Caps got it going in the second. The period was filling with odd-man breaks and open looks for Washington, with the fourth line converting midway through the frame. Martin Erat – yes, that one — made a nice play behind the net before setting up the puck for Tom Wilson, who fired it on net. Aaron Volpatti did the net crashing thing to put the Caps on the board.
In the third, though, the Isles got the goal back — and they did on a Caps power play. Four minutes into the period, local pariah Mike Green missed a pinch and CalClutterbuck took the puck the other way on a breakaway. Yeah, it was awful. Then, Thomas Vanek gave the Isles the lead with some whacking in front, to Braden’s dismay. With less than two minutes left, this one looked over. HOWEVER… Nicklas Backstrom was stone cold clutch, converting in front with the Caps down a man. In overtime, the big Russian — that would be Alex Ovechkin — did his thing. Boom. Crazy times. Caps top Isles 3-2 (OT).
On November 27, 2013, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Blame Rachel Cohen for this.
[Note: This recap is Chanukah-themed tonight. Why? Because there's literally no one on the Internet right now.]
Last week, there was only one way to describe the play of the Washington Capitals: shameful. After winning three straight, the Capitals allowed seven unanswered goals at Verizon Center, before showing some life late against Montreal. Saturday’s game, though, was markedly different. The Capitals still lost, but they put 50 shots on goal, Washington’s highest total since 2010. On the first night of Chanukah, the Caps looked to continue that output against the lowly Ottawa Senators. They did — at first.
It started with a sublime play by yelling person-cum-Jewish pun Michael Latta, who skated into the offensive zone, got tripped, and then pole vaulted over a Sens defender. The loose puck went to Eric Fehr, who unleashed a lovely wrist shot to put the Caps on the board. Ottawa tied it up less than a minute and a half later, however, when Bobby Ryan tipped one past Braden Holtby on the man-advantage. However, Marcus Johansson whacked in a loose puck in front on the power play just 38 seconds after the Sens tally, giving the Caps a 2-1 lead. BUT WAIT! A mere 47 seconds later, Brooks Laich backhanded home a loose puck in front. Four goals in under five minutes. Whew!
The second period was all Sens. Chris Philips put them within one with a blast on the power play, before Colin Greening tied the game at three.
In the final frame Mika Zibanejad added another PP tally. Ugh. The game looked hopeless until John Carlson tied it late. Prepare to cry, though, because just over a minute later Zach Smith beat Mike Green and Nate Schmidt to win the ballgame. Ryan added an empty netter. Sad face. Vodka. Sens edge Caps 6-4
That didn’t take long: forward Martin Erat, acquired from Nashville at the 2013 trade deadline along with Michael Latta in exchange for top Capitals prospect Filip Forsberg, now says he wants to leave Washington.
Speaking with Czech news agency iDNES.cz and translated by our friend Lindsey Novak, Erat expresses dissatisfaction with the ice time he’s getting in Washington and seems eager to move on.