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Caps Taking a Big Risk

A few days ago, I was talking to a buddy of mine about the Caps’ chances during these last few weeks.  He remarked “This team is good, but if they had somebody like Erat, I’d say they are a solid cup contender.”  Now, a bunch of you are no doubt going to call me a liar, that nobody could have had that foresight.  And you’d be right.  Because this team is not a Martin Erat away from the Cup.

In Martin Erat, the Caps will get a 31-year-old right winger.  This season, he has 4 goals and 17 assists over the span of 36 games.  Had this been a regular season, he would be looking at 7 or 8 goals at this point.  He is coming off a career year, where he scored 19 goals and 39 assists.  He has eclipsed the 50 point mark in 5 of the past 6 seasons.  They do also get Michael Latta, but I don’t expect anything from a guy with 184 PIMS in the AHL.

Erat is obviously an upgrade for a Caps’ lineup that is still suffering from Alex Semin withdrawal.  Best case scenario, he will take Johansson’s spot as the LW (not his natural position) with Ovi and Backstrom.  If not, he will play with Brouwer and Riberio on the second line.  Anything lower could incite riots.  Although it is not a necessarily downside to the deal, it does force Johansson, Laich, Fehr, Ward, Chimera, Beagle, Volpatti, and Hendricks to fight for 6 spots.  The Caps don’t really have time to figure out who is in and who is out. 

Erat does nothing for a team that is 20th in goals against.  He does nothing for a team that ranks 29th in penalty killing.  It is the defensive side of the game that is killing the Caps.  Look at the teams that have won the Cup the last 5 years. 

Los Angeles- 2.07 GA/G (2nd) – 87% PK (4th)
Boston- 2.30 GA/G (2nd) – 82.6% PK (16th)
Chicago – 2.48 GA/G (6th) – 85.3% PK (4th)
Pittsburgh- 2.84 GA/G (17th) – 82.7% PK (8th)
Detroit- 2/18 GA/G (1st) – 84% PK% (8th)

This Washington Capitals team is not going to have those numbers.  And if they weren’t going to have them prior to today, the acquisition of Erat certainly isn’t changing anything there.

 Erat is also 31.  This is a guy who has most likely already had his best years.  His health could also figure into as he has never played a complete season.  He played 80 games twice (2001, 2005).  Over the past 6 seasons, he has averaged just over 70 games/season.

Now, the other part of the conversation is what the Caps gave up, Filip Forsberg.  Fosberg is considered by many to be a top 20 prospect.  Corey Pronman (at HockeyProspectus)  has Forsberg as a future first liner, something we can’t say Erat will definitely be.  It is true his stock took a hit at the draft (although it wasn’t clear why) and he does play in the second division, but he still is considered a future top line player in the NHL.  That is not exactly something easy to come by.  No, I’ve never seen the kid play, but I trust those who make it their job to watch players like Forsberg and evaluate their potential.

The argument has already been made that with Erat, you know what you’re getting while Forsberg is a bit of a gamble.  That’s malarkey.  Everything in this league is a gamble.  It was a gamble to bring in guys like Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr (both proven players) and that turned our great, didn’t it?  It’s was also a gamble to bring in Matt Hendricks (a call-up player) to a camp try out. 

If they made a move like this over the last two years, it would have been great.  But they didn’t.  In the end, the Caps are adding a player that brings them balance up front, but not a Cup.

Filed in: | F Street Faithful | Permalink
  Tags: washington+capitals

Comments

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Haha. I was thinking of calling bullsh!t on that second sentence, but I see it was a trap. Great opening to a good article.

Posted by larry on 04/04/13 at 06:26 AM ET

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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate.  This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals.  The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.

In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at  York College of Pennsylvania.  I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland. 

You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at overtheboard@gmail.com.