Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Erat Exits the Predators for Prospect Forsberg

The Nashville Predators traded Martin Erat and Michel Latta from their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee to the Washington Capitals for their 2012 first round pick Filip Forsberg. Here is the press release from the Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired forward Filip Forsberg from the Washington Capitals in exchange for forwards Martin Erat and Michael Latta. Forsberg has already been signed to a three-year entry level contract and is eligible to play in North America immediately.

“With one of the best goaltenders in the world in Pekka Rinne, and the top defenseman in the game today in Shea Weber, along with Roman Josi, Kevin Klein and other young defensemen we continue to develop, we believe we are well positioned at these two positions, but have lacked a dynamic offensive forward.” Poile said. “In Filip Forsberg, we are adding one of the top rated young forwards in the world; we are excited to have him join our other emerging young talent and solid veterans at the position.”

“We have used draft picks in recent years to add players at the trade deadline. Over the last several years, we traded away four first round picks. It was imperative that we add a potentially dynamic offensive forward such as Forsberg. Our goal remains the same—to win the Stanley Cup. We believe our current team is a playoff caliber team. At the same time, we have to be mindful of the long-term and this deal allows us to acquire a top-end young offensive forward that will help us.”

            Forsberg, 18 (8/14/94), posted 33 points (15g-18a) in 38 games for Leksand of Sweden’s second league in 2012-13, pacing all junior skaters and finishing second in points to only Predators 2012 second-round pick Pontus Aberg. The 6-1, 188-pound center was the recipient of the 2013 Golden Cage Award as the league’s top junior player.

            Washington’s first pick, 11th overall, in the 2012 Entry Draft was recently rated the 21st rated NHL-affiliate prospect by The Hockey News. The Östervåla, Sweden native helped Sweden win gold at the 2012 World Junior Championships, then captained the Tre Kronor to a silver medal at the 2013 World Juniors, being named the tournament’s All-Star Team in the process.

            Erat departs Nashville ranked second all-time on Nashville’s games played (723), goals (163), assists (318) and points (481) lists. Having helped the Predators advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs seven of the last eight seasons, the Trebic, Czech Republic native is also tied for the franchise lead in playoff assists (15), and ranks second in postseason games played (46) and points (23).

            “It is always difficult to trade a player who was drafted, developed and who has produced for the franchise for many years such as Martin Erat, however, Marty came to us in recent days and indicated a trade might be in his best interests. Thus, the process began and we were able to explore options with our primary goal being to acquire a young top end forward that would address our most critical need. We thank Martin for all his contributions to the Predators’ success over the years and wish him and his family the best in Washington.”

Erat has been one of the Predators most consistent players, but has struggled through a miserable year with 4 goals and 17 assists in 35 games. Marty has often passed up shots and has had numerous games where he did not record a shot on goal.

According to a report in the Washington Post, Erat asked for a trade two weeks ago and gave Predators General Manager a list of 10 teams to which he would accept a trade.

So what happened?

It is no secret that the Predators coaching staff had been trying to coax more out of Marty. Was he frustrated by the pressure the coaches may have been putting on him? Or was his dismal season the result of some undisclosed injury? Had he tuned out the coaches and felt that the Predators style of play no longer fit his game?

In a conference call with reporters, Erat said, "I’ve been in Nashville for 11 years and it’s hard to leave the city when you’ve been here for so long, but I’m so excited for the opportunity and to play for the Stanley Cup,” Erat went on to say, "I’m getting older, and I don’t have seven, eight years to wait for another chance."

Erat said he asked for the trade because the Predators were going in a younger direction.

If by younger, you mean players like Taylor Beck, who has 6 points in 8 NHL games and whose productivity during his time in the NHL is on track to surpass Erat's on a per game basis, then I am not sure I see the problem like Erat does.

Bottom line, the Predators have traded a player that no longer wanted to be here.

And while it may be painful or sad to see a long time member of the team depart, it is absolutely the best move if that player did not want to be here.

In return, the Predators received Filip Forsberg, who many consider to have star potential in the NHL. The 18 year old was the Capitals first round pick in 2012, taken 11th overall. The 6'1", 198 pound forward is called by many an elite prospect, something the Predators do not have in their system. Currently, Forsberg is playing for Leksands IF in the Swedish Elite League.

But Forsberg is just that.

A prospect.

If Forsberg pans out, then the Predators have decidedly won this trade.

Time will tell if that proves to be the case.

The Predators have bolstered their roster for the future. In the here and now, with 12 games left on the schedule, the players that are on the roster are going to have to step up.

Hopefully, they have the "want to".

Want to be here. Want to lay it on the line every night. Want to win.

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