While we await the return of the NHL, let’s take this opportunity to look back at some of the influential transactions in NHL history. For no particular reason, let’s jump to the trade deadline of the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season.
On the date in question (April 3, 2013), the Washington Capitals were two points out of a playoff spot, looking to boost their chances of returning to the postseason for the sixth consecutive season. The Caps had been banged up to start the year, but at the deadline, they were on the rise and rounding into form. To get that little bit of extra oomph, the Caps traded top prospect Filip Forsberg to Nashville for LW Martin Erat and prospect Michael Latta.
The deal made a certain amount of sense at the time, as the Caps were trying to get over the hump and capture their first Stanley Cup. Led by all-world 27-year-old winger Alex Ovechkin, the pieces to make a run were in place, even if they hadn’t lived up to those lofty expectations as of yet. Forsberg, the 11th overall selection of the draft in the year prior, had a bright future, but he wasn’t anticipated to add value to the Caps for some time. Erat led the Predators with 21 points and 17 assists at the time of the deal.
Caps General Manager at the time George McPhee said this of the deal (from Katie Carrera of the Washington Post): “You’re here to win. We’ve been in that mode for a while. This is six years of trying to win a Cup. We had our rebuild phase, we sort of rebuilt things on the fly here, but we’d like to continue to make the playoffs while we’re doing it.”
Sure enough, adding a top-six winger like Erat to a line with Matthieu Perreault and Joel Ward could very well have made the difference for Washington. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but Erat did not end up making the difference. He manages just two goals in 62 games with the Caps before requesting a trade the following season, which the Caps granted. They did manage to get back to the playoffs in 2012-2013, but they were bounced by the Rangers in the first round.
Latta lasted with the Caps for longer, though he never made much of an impact on the ice. He scored four total goals for Washington in parts of three seasons from 2013 to 2016.
As for the Predators, they are happy with their end of this deal. So much so that five years later, they took a victory lap with a gloat tweet.
Forsberg has made good on his prospect status in developing into a capable top-liner for Nashville. Still just 25-years-old, he’s averaged 0.36 goals per game and 0.41 assists per game over his NHL career. He’s a big piece of the Predators success over the years, and a player the Caps would certainly love to have back.