At the NHL draft the Washington Capitals traded for right wing Troy Brouwer. Then when free agency opened up on July 1, they signed right wing Joel Ward. Soon after, they went over the salary cap by signing goalie Tomas Vokoun and agreeing to a two-year deal with Brouwer.
Eric Fehr knew something had to give. On Friday he found out that something was getting shipped to the Winnipeg Jets for a fourth-round pick in 2012 and prospect Danick Paquette.
"With the trade today it was a big shock to me but at the same time I'm still excited and I'm willing to move forward here," Fehr said on a conference call with reporters Friday evening. "My world's kinda been flipped upside down right now."
For the Caps, it seems it was a matter of dumping salary to re-sign Karl Alzner and have flexibility for next season. Fehr has a cap hit of $2.2 million and getting that off the books means Washington would have about $3.27 million left under the cap — assuming defenseman Tom Poti is placed on long-term injured reserve as expected.
Officially, George McPhee attributed the move to a "surplus" of players at the same position Fehr plays.
"We have a surplus of right wingers and we decided to move one to build upon our draft-pick stock for the 2012 draft," McPhee said through a team spokesman. "We also added a gritty prospect in Danick Paquette to our organization. Eric Fehr is a first-class person. We thank him for his contributions to the Washington Capitals and wish him well."
Fehr's time in Washington was marred by injuries, something the 25-year-old admitted Friday. A guy once touted as a top NHL prospect, Fehr played 230 career games with the Caps and managed just 46 goals and 47 assists.
"I definitely believe I've got a lot more to give," he said. "I think I've shown spurts of it throughout my career."
Fehr said he was "definitely disappointed" by the early playoff exits and his injury problems in Washington but fully expected to be back next season. But the Caps' moves made Fehr expendable.
"Around the draft time and free agent signings, bringing in a few right wingers, I was just starting to think about different possibilities and what could happen," he said.
Then on Friday afternoon, Fehr got a call between holes at a charity golf tournament from McPhee that didn't explain a lot about why the trade was made.
"He just said it's an unfortunate part of the business and he just thanked me for my time there and that was pretty much it," Fehr said.
The Caps get a 20-year-old right wing in Paquette who spent last season with the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL. He had 13 goals, seven assists and a whopping 179 penalty minutes in 59 games.
For Fehr, this is a chance for him to go home. The 25-year-old is from Winkler, Manitoba, and makes his summer home in Winnipeg. He said his friends and family were excited that the drive to watch him play at home will be about an hour now.
"I'm excited to get a fresh start in Winnipeg and hopefully get back to my scoring ways," he said. "It's just so hard to believe that I'm gonna be in Winnipeg."
Fehr said he doesn't expect to be ready for training camp after having shoulder surgery in May but hopes to have his injury problems behind him. And in getting a bigger role with his hometown Jets, Fehr wants to show why he was such a highly touted prospect years ago.
"I think I'll get a little more of an opportunity in Winnipeg," he said.
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