Sweden’s Filip Forsberg #16 celebrates a third period goal against Slovakia with Robin Norell #3, Robert Hagg #14 and Elias Lindholm #19 during quarterfinal action at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Since the start, George McPhee has always wanted to build the Capitals in the draft. He has done well getting all of the Capitals stars of the day through the NHL Entry Draft, e.i. John Carlson, Mike Green, Nick Backstrom, Karl Alzner, Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, and Philipp Grubauer. McPhee was always a “for the future” kind of guy, he traded away Steve Eminger after he played well in the 2008 NHL playoffs to Philadelphia along with the 81st overall pick for the Flyer’s 28th overall pick. That 28th overall pick happens to be on the USA 2014 Olympic hockey team, his name John Carlson.
In 2011, McPhee traded away goaltender Semyon Varlamov to Colorado, a move at the time I was skeptical about, for the 11th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Now, the move looks fantastic, Varlamov has played well but hasn’t shined too bright.
During the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, McPhee traded away Capitals prospect Cody Eakin and 54th overall pick for Mike Ribeiro of the Dallas Stars. Dallas got Cody Eakin (whose ceiling looks to be a 3rd line center) while the Capitals got their second line center. McPhee then came out smelling like roses when Phoenix signed Ribeiro for $5.5 Mil ($22 mil over 4 years). McPhee then signed newly bought-out Mikhail Grabovski for $2.5 mil and 3 years less ($3 mil over 1 year). Grabovski has played well as a 2nd line center, and is now being pair up on a line with Oveckin and Eric Fehr
The Erat Trade:
This is where I believe McPhee made a serious mistake. With the 11th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft that the Capital received in the Varlamov trade, McPhee drafted Swedish forward Filip Forsberg. Then on April 3rd 2013, the NHL trade deadline, McPhee traded away Filip for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. Martin Erat helped make the move happen, demanding to be traded to Washington. Erat had been a force in the NHL since he was drafted in 1999, not including the lockout shortened year and his rookie campaign. Erat’s lowest full season point total is 49 (3 times), and his lowest goal total is 16 (2 times). Michael Latta, who has seen time on the 4th line in the 2013-2014 season, had been a somewhat unimpressive AHLer. In 131 games, Latta had tallied 66 point and 300 PIMs. On the other hand, Filip Forsberg had been the Capitals number one prospect.
Since the trade, the Nashville Predators have looked the winners in the trade on the surface. Filip Forsberg has played 12 NHL game this year, scoring one goal and adding four assists. He has shined in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in games against Switzerland, Finland, Norway, and Slovakia. In 5 game, he is tied for first in point in the tournament with 11. Meanwhile, Erat has zero goals and 15 assists in 38 games this season for the Capitals, not to mention he asked for a trade in less than one full year of being in Washington.
The beauty of the Erat trade was what was thought to just be a toss inte, Michael Latta. In 17 NHL game this season, Latta has 1 goal and 4 assists, although he is currently on IR. Personally, I believe that his will be known as the Latta trade in the near future.
The Capitals future now lies in the hands of Andre Burakowski and Riley Barber. Both played well in the IIHF World Juniors Championships. Burakowski shined against Switzerland, Norway, Russia, and Slovakia. Barber shined against Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, and Canada. He had a four game goal streak in the preliminary round before USA fell to Russian in the quarterfinals.
Also, across the pond, Capital’s prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov is in his last year of his Traktor contract and expected to come over to the Capitals after the KHL season ends.