Pierre LeBrun, a veteran and well-respected hockey reporter who now writes for ESPN.com, says the trade could turn into one of those win-win deals.
“And yes, perhaps GM George McPhee could have gotten more had he waited until the summer to shop Forsberg fully to the league,” he writes. “You see, I believe the Caps were going to trade Forsberg at some point no matter what, internally souring on the prospect, a player they no longer viewed as a top center in the making.”
LeBrun said there were concerns about Forsberg’s speed. He wrote he’s not so sure this is a bad trade.
“Erat is one of those players that if he were playing in a bigger market all these years would be more of a brand name,” he wrote. “Fact is, the Preds just traded their top offensive forward to Washington. And unlike Jarome Iginla or Jaromir Jagr, Erat is not a rental player. He has two more years on his deal ($4.5 million cap hit). The Caps just got a top-six forward for at least two-plus years. Those don’t grow on trees. Now, he has to perform, obviously. If he does, we may look back on this deal as not being quite as terrible for Washington as everyone is making it out to be.”
Latta, the prospect coming over with Erat, doesn’t rank far behind Forsberg with Hockey’s Future. He’s given a 7.0 (second-line forward/No. 3-4 defenseman/journeyman No. 1 goaltender), one of only five Caps prospects it ranks at that level or higher.
But Latta is just a prospect at this point. Erat is the centerpiece. McPhee said it was unanimous among his scouts to give up Forsberg. He thinks the system is deep enough. He thinks the Caps, having regained their health, took another step forward with Erat.
“I think we’ve proven that when we’re healthy, we’re pretty good,” McPhee told reporters soon after the trade was announced. “I just tried to make them a little better today.”
We’ll know soon enough if it works. What we may not know for a while is if it was worth it.