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Where does Erat fit on the Caps?

Oct 4, 2013, 11:45 AM EDT

Martin Erat #10 of the Washington Capitals skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on September 16, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(September 15, 2013 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Martin Erat was very frustrated after being limited to just 9:01 minutes in the Capitals’ season opener on Tuesday. On Thursday, Capitals coach Adam Oates used him even less.

Erat was bounced around quite a bit during training camp and now he’s being largely restricted to fourth line duties. It’s not like they’ve missed his secondary scoring thus far, but it wasn’t too long ago that they surrendered top prospect Filip Forsberg to the Nashville Predators to get him.

In Nashville, Erat was remarkably consistent, recording between 49 and 58 points in eight straight campaigns going into the shortened season, but he was also regularly used as a top-six forward. The Capitals have a fairly solid top-six as it is and Erat will have a tough time cracking it.

Even their third line of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, and Joel Ward seems set, at least in the short term.

This is an issue that Oates doesn’t have an immediate answer for, according to CSN Washington, but barring an injury, Erat might not get much of an opportunity.

The 32-year-old forward wanted out of Nashville, which disappointed Predators GM David Poile and led to some verbal jabs from former teammate Mike Fisher.

For his part, Erat’s willing to “do what’s best for the team.” He still has two seasons left on his contract with a $4.5 million annual cap hit. That should be plenty of motivation for a Capitals team up against the salary cap to come with a solution to this problem.

  1. valoisvipers - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    GMGM is not looking too good on this one. No one will be willing to take him with that cap hit.

  2. govtminion - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    I can see why he’d be frustrated, but… I guess with this being the case, I don’t understand why McPhee traded for him in the first place. The only major roster change before training camp was Ribiero leaving and Grabovski coming in, and now the Johannsen trade- other than that, the team is still the same one that McPhee had when he moved Forsberg. So what did he see in Erat at the time, that this guy was the answer? Top six material on a team featuring Ovechkin, Backstrom, Laich, etc.?

    If he’s annoyed about anything, it should be the big picture- not ice time, but what purpose the Caps had in bringing him over in the first place. But, he also has no recourse- if he demands a trade from a second team in two seasons, teams won’t want to risk bringing him on.

  3. lowenni - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Drop Ward to the fourth line. That third line right now has a lot of energy but Fehr, Chimera, and Ward is not a very offensively potent third line. If you move Erat up there you add a lot of skill, plus Chimera+Erat is a very, very fast combination that would compliment Fehr’s net-crashing style very well. Or they can move Laich to the 3C role because he doesn’t look like he’s handling that 2nd line wing job too well. Either way, Erat is capable of much more than the role he’s been given

    • dcfan4life - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      He had lots of opportunity to prove he fits this teams playing style last year, and he struggled. The Capitals are 2 games into the season. Injuries, ineffectiveness, and other factors will play out and Erat will have an opportunity to step up. He has to prove though hes able to be a top liner to begin with.

      • ravenscaps48 - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM

        He was also injured last year

      • lowenni - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        I’m not saying he has to be a top liner. I’m not even saying he should be in the top 6. But from what I’ve seen Erat has had more chances and created more opportunites in less than 15 minutes of ice time through two games then Ward, Chimera, and Fehr all have combined. I agree that he hasn’t fully proved himself with the Caps yet–that being said, he has a history of being a solid, consistent top-6 forward, while someone like Ward has been a 4/3rd liner his whole career. He can’t get a chance to prove himself if he only plays 6 minutes a night. That’s both foolish and just ignorant of the Caps coaching staff. Generally I love Oates’, but I really find it hard to agree with his motives on this. There is absolutely no way Joel Ward should be in front of a successful veteran who still has fuel in the tank and has 10x more skill.

  4. cliffatola - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    For what they pay him, he can play on whatever line the coach tells him to.

  5. edwelsh8 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Martin Erat’s career numbers equate to about 18 goals per 82 games played. He is an overrated offensive player and giving up Forsberg to get him was a bad trade.

  6. babykaby - Oct 5, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    Last season Erat was brought in to help a team try to make the playoffs that mostly depended on Ovi for all of its scoring. For those of you who don’t remember, the Caps were in a fight to finish in a playoff spot. GM did what needed to be done by bringing in a proven player who was expected to provide some help. Yes we had to give up Forsberg, but you can’t get something for nothing. Everybody needs to get over it and stop whining. Forsberg hasn’t proven he can do anything yet, so how do you even know he can make it in the NHL. And, Erat needs to put on his big boy pants, stop whining and go out and prove to the coach he deserves more minutes as a Cap. Since he put on the Caps jersey he hasn’t proven he does. I do agree Ward has been a total bust and Chimera has become just a joke whose only upside is he can skate. Both of those guys can go and they wouldn’t be missed (at least not on the ice). Unfortunately all the other teams don’t want either of those guys, so we are stuck.

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