Caps week in review: 12.4.13
It is not uncommon for the Verizon Center press box to be sprinkled with scouts from around the NHL.
That was the case Tuesday night when the Winnipeg Jets sent assistant general managers Craig Heisinger and Larry Simmons to scout the Capitals’ game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Coyotes, Senators, Canadiens, Penguins and Flyers also had representatives in attendance, but it was the double-barreled presence of the Jets that stood out.
Could the Jets be interested in disgruntled forward Marty Erat or defenseman Dmitry Orlov? If so, what would they be willing to give up to get them?
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One NHL scout in attendance Tuesday night told CSNWashington.com that teams might shy away from Erat because he's made two trade requests in less than eight months.
"And he didn't keep it in-house," the scout said. "That doesn't look good on him."
Trade rumors have swirled around Winnipeg left wing Evander Kane the past few weeks and the 22-year-old left-hander has certainly been a Capitals killer in his career, with 10 goals and 15 points in 21 games against Washington.
The question the Caps must ask themselves as they entertain offers for Erat and Orlov is this: Do they need a forward or defenseman in return? With Brooks Laich’s lower body injury hanging over them, the Caps could be in the market for a top six forward, just as they were when they acquired Erat before last year’s trade deadline.
But if you ask just about any Capitals fan, the greatest need is on the blue line, where the Caps sorely lack the hard-hitting, crease-clearing presence that a healthy John Erskine once brought.
The Jets would want far more than Erat and Orlov in exchange for Kane, but they might be willing to deal someone like left-handed defenseman Mark Stuart, who is averaging roughly 16 minutes a night and is in the final year of a contract that pays him $1.8 million.
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The Canucks have been rumored to have an interest in Erat and if there is a defenseman on their roster worth pursuing it’s Kevin Bieksa, a hard-hitting 32-year-old veteran who has three years remaining on a contract that carries a cap hit of $4.6 million but an actual price tag of $5 million this season, $4 million next season and $2.5 million in 2015-16.
Problem is, Bieksa’s a right shot and the Caps are in need of a lefty. Dan Hamhuis would be the perfect fit in D.C., but to pry him out of Vancouver it will take more than Erat and Orlov and the Caps are not especially deep in prospects.
In the meantime, the Caps are trying to continue with business as usual, even if it’s not.
“It’s the situation we are in,” Erat told CSNWashington.com. “It’s a business and you focus on doing the right things. I just have to play hockey and I have to play good. I’m trying to do my best and we’ll what’s going to happen.”
Erat, 32, has no goals and seven assists in 25 games this season, two years after netting 19 goals with the Predators.
“I’ve been in the league a long time and I’ve seen so many things,” said Erat, who is centering a fourth line with Aaron Volpatti and Tom Wilson. “I don’t think this is going to bother anybody. Guys are focused on hockey. It’s a business.”