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Friday, November 29, 2013

What to Do with Erat and Orlov

Within the past week, we have had two players ask for a trade.  Both have their reasons, and both are pretty good reasons.  Martin Erat is not being used correctly.  He consistently plays on the fourth line, and even gets healthy scratched, when he should at the very worst be on the second line.  Dmitry Orlov wants out of D.C. and Hershey because he just keeps bouncing back and fourth between the nations capital and chocolate town.  Orlov has been brought up only to be sent back down four times this season, and has yet to play in a NHL game.  Both of these situations are maddening.  Erat should easily play on the second line (actually, no, the first line with Ovechkin and Backstrom), and Orlov should start over about half of the guys currently manning the Caps blue line.

But, it's too late now.  Well, maybe for Erat.  He has most certainly played in his last game as a Capital.    I mean, his shirts are already in the clearance section at Kettler.
I do, however, think there is a chance to change Orlov's mind.  PLAY HIM.  He's definitely NHL ready.  I think he can fit better than both Nate Schmidt and Alex Urbom.  He's 22, and has a ton of potential.  PLAY HIM.

But, let's take a look at where exactly we could send these guys if we do trade them.  Both Erat, Orlov and a package of Orlov.

First of all, in order to trade Erat, a team would have to be willing to commit to him for this season and the next for a $4.5 million cap hit.  Based on caps space, according to capgeek, Florida, Colorado, N.Y. Islanders, Calgary, Ottawa, Buffalo, Edmonton and Nashville are the only teams that can afford to take on his contract.  That doesn't just limit Erat to those teams, because teams could do an even swap for Erat, a $4.5 million contract for roughly a $4.5 million contract.  It also must be noted that Erat has a no movement clause in his contract.  This means that he can't be traded to a team unless he says so (ironically, he agreed to be traded to Washington).  However, according to this article, maybe that doesn't necessarily mean a playoff-bound team.

The difficult thing for McPhee is the fact that Erat went public with his demands.  This means that teams won't necessarily be willing to give up too much for Erat, knowing he doesn't want to be in DC.  So, initially, my guess is that we trade Erat to a team for a pick and a prospect.  But that's not fun.  Let's pretend that a team is willing to make an even trade for Erat, which is still entirely possible.  However, with this being Erat's second trade demand in two seasons, he becomes a risky, pricey contract.  So, it makes finding a match a little tough.

Robyn Regehr
Obviously, our defense sucks.  So if I was McPhee, I would fish around for a team that is loaded defensively, and needs some offense, preferably out west.  First, the LA Kings.  The LA Kings could use a winger, especially on the left.  They could switch out Dwight King (brother of former Cap D.J. King) for Erat, and have a second line of Erat-Mike Richards-Jeff Carter.  Pretty solid.  They are relatively deep at defense, and have one of the best goaltenders in the world in Jonathan Quick, who is currently injured until Christmas.  They could send over second line defenseman Robyn Regehr, a 33-year-old defensive d-man that the Caps could really use.  However, his contract is only a $3 million cap hit, and making this trade for Erat would only give them $187,351 in cap space.  The Caps would have to sweeten up the deal by including a pick, or maybe even a relatively decent prospect for this to work.

Another interesting option is the Vancouver Canucks.  They are always willing to shake up their team a little bit.  Their second line consists of David Booth, Ryan Kesler and Jannik Hansen.  Both Booth and Hansen are not playing very well, both with only five points so far.  Would they be willing to bring in Erat to give a jump start to their second line?  Maybe.  Defensively, they don't have as much depth as LA, but they might be able to give up Dan Hamhius at $4.5 million.  Or, because McPhee is McPhee, maybe a Booth for Erat deal is in order.

I'm not going to entertain any Orlov possibilities, because I don't think McPhee will trade Orlov away by himself.  He either stays with Washington, and hopefully gets some playing time, or he gets packaged with Erat.

 Orlov's cap hit is virtually nothing at $690,000, according to capgeek.  But, he has a lot of upside in his game, and I highly doubt there is any team out there that wouldn't want him.  He does become a restricted free agent after this season.  If he were to get packaged with Erat, all it would really mean is that we could get more in return.  Either more prospects or a bigger contract player.  I think this option would even open up more opportunities for teams looking to rebuild (*Cough* CalgaryBuffaloFloridaMaybeEdmonton).  We don't want anyone on Florida.  Probably not really on Calgary either, except maybe Mark Giordano, but he's injured.

The following trades I'm about to write about are highly unlikely.  Highly.  But, they do, in a sense make sense.  The way I'm approaching it is that these teams give up one under performing player for an underperforming player that has potential to do well (Erat), a young guy with a lot of potential in areas that these teams need (Orlov) and a draft pick for the future.

 Edmonton is intriguing because they have so much talent on offense, but not so much on defense.  That is what happens when you use all of your number one picks on offense and don't address the blue line.  Now, I know the Caps do need defense.  But, with sooooo much offensive talent going to waste in Edmonton, the options are intriguing.  How about newly acquired David Perron?  He would be a $3.8125 million signing through the 2015-2016 season.  Or, with all of the young guns due $6 million for a very long time, there is one young gun that is not (yet), Nail Yakupov.  Yakupov has under performed this season, and Edmonton Manager Craig MacTavish already said Yakupov won't be moved, but if he gets the right move, why not?  Erat-Orlov-high round pick for Yakupov might be too good to ignore.

Tyler Myers
If Buffalo would be willing to give up Tyler Myers, that would be veeerrrrry interesting.  Very interesting.  But, Buffalo is looking for first round picks.  Would McPhee do Erat-Orlov and a first for Myers?  Would Erat want to go to Buffalo?  Would Myers (who also has a no movement clause) want to come to DC?  Actually, that's not a question.  Who wants to be in Buffalo?  Would McPhee want to part with that much?  Can Myers, who at 6'8" looked like an absolute monster when he won the Calder trophy, but has since regressed, go back to his former form?  Plus, could we take on a massive contract for $5.5 million through the 2018-2019 season? It's a very risky trade for the Caps, but the potential to turn around a 6'8" guys career is through the roof.

Now, all of these trade options are pure speculation, and admittedly, might sway in the Caps favor a bit.  What ultimately will probably happen will be that Erat gets moved for virtually nothing because he publicly stated he wants out.  But, it's still fun to dream big, right?  Whatever it may be, it's going to happen soon.  And we will either be happy Caps fans, satisfied Caps fans, or angry Caps fans.

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