by Forechecker on 09/25/08 at 04:45 PM ET
One of the several key Nashville Predators signed to new contracts during the offseason was Martin Erat, the 27 year-old Czech who re-upped for 5 years at $4.5 million per season, a richer and longer deal than that given to J.P. Dumont, who gets considerably more attention as an offensive force. The question, then, is why did GM David Poile pay so much for a player who has yet to top 23 goals or 57 points in a season?
Over the last three seasons, Erat has enjoyed a steady role in the Nashville offense, ranking 3rd among forwards behind Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont in even-strength and power play ice time per game. He also provided quality support on the penalty kill, and despite playing a minute per game there, was only on the ice for four goals against all last season while shorthanded. That Goals Against rate (2.96 per 60 minutes) was one of the better performances in the entire NHL among regular PK men (minimum 40 games played, 1 minute PK ice time per game).
|Martin Erat Production & Ice Time, Last 3 Seasons|
|GP||EV Pts/60||PP Pts/60||EV TOI/G||PP TOI/G||SH TOI/G|
In addition to this conventional production, Martin also finished second on the Predators in terms of Penalty Plus/Minus, ending last season with a +9 rating (having drawn 9 more penalties than he took, generating 9 net power plays). Erat’s agility and puckhandling skills allow him to buzz around the perimeter of the offensive zone, waiting (some would say far too long) for the right opportunity to open up, and along the way, he can often cause defensive players to haul him down. If it weren’t for the occasional dumb-dumb penalty (careless hooking at center ice, for example) his figure would probably be even higher here, but overall he does a good job staying out of the box, as his PIM totals in the last three seasons have been 76, 50, and 40.
Heading into this fall without Alexander Radulov in the lineup, Erat’s offensive contributions will be relied upon even more heavily, and I expect he might get another minute or so of ice time per game. Since he’ll likely play on a different line than J.P. Dumont, and thus not have a game-changing offensive player on the opposite wing, I don’t forsee anything more than a marginal increase in his headline numbers. To be precise, I see a smidge more opportunity, combined with a smidge of natural progression as he enters the prime of his career, which adds up to two smidges of improvement over his recent performance; in other words, solid numbers but nothing All-Star worthy.
So, for the official Forechecker’s Forecast…
|Forechecker’s Forecast, 2008-9 NHL Regular Season|
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