CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2012-13 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Martin Erat
Position: Left Wing
Ht/Wt: 6-0, 196
Penalty minutes: 30
Average Ice Time: 13:54
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 7-year, $31.5 million contract [$4.5 million cap hit in 2013-14]
Strengths: An excellent skater who protects the puck well in all three zones, Erat seemed to be the perfect playoff piece when the Caps acquired him at the trade deadline in exchange for top forward prospect Filip Forsberg. But a collision involving Alex Ovechkin and Derek Stepan in Game 4 of the Caps’ first-round series against the Rangers left Erat with a dislocated left elbow and sidelined him for the remainder of the series.
Weaknesses: It’s hard to get a fair assessment on what Erat could have done for the Caps. He admitted it took some time for him to adjust to moving from right wing to left wing and adapt to Adam Oates’ system.
Memorable Moment: Erat picked up his first goal as a Capital when he redirected an Ovechkin shot past Ben Scrivens in a 5-1 win over Toronto on April 17. Erat also recorded an assist in the rout. But it was his emphatic post-season vote of confidence that left a lasting impression. “I think this team has everything you need to be able to win in this league,” he said. “I’ve been around for a long time and I think this team has it. I think you can always make a couple changes, add a couple pieces, but the core is here and I think every year you have a chance with this team.”
2013-14 Expectations: At $4.5 million, Erat carries a hefty price tag for someone who has never scored more than 23 goals in his 11-year career. The Caps have the option of using one of their two compliance buyouts on Erat, but if they do it means they’ve surrendered Forsberg, the 11th player drafted overall last June, and got nothing in return. If Erat stays and Mike Ribeiro is not re-signed, look for Erat to play left wing on a second line with center Brooks Laich and right wing Troy Brouwer. If that’s the case, he’ll need to produce between 50 and 60 points to warrant keeping him.