Stewing over a lack of playing time and clarity regarding his role this season, Capitals forward Martin Erat has made public his desire to be traded less than eight months after his arrival in Washington.
“Since day one, I didn’t get the chance here,” Erat said after practice Monday. “I got traded here to be a top-six player, but never got the chance. It’s time for me to move on.”
A top-six fixture for 11 years with the Nashville Predators prior to being acquired by the Capitals at last season’s trade deadline, Erat did not attain the same level of responsibility or success with Washington.
His ice time plummeted by nearly six minutes as he was shuffled around the lineup while the coaching staff searched for some sort of chemistry.
Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Erat was a healthy scratch for the first time in his 755-game career.
Among his teammates aware of Erat’s uneasiness, none were surprised by the admission, and they said they respect his right to seek out a better playing situation.
“He’s been unhappy with where he’s been in the lineup the majority of the season,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “Nobody can blame him because he’s a guy who has a lot of pride, wants to play, wants to help this club, but I think he feels if he’s not going to be able to help to his full potential, he wants to go somewhere where he has the opportunity to.”
Erat will remain around the team while general manager George McPhee locates a willing trade partner. It seems likely that Erat, who practiced on Tuesday, will continue to be scratched until a deal is consummated.
Even though Erat has expressed his desire to leave, the Capitals will think of him as part of the team until he does go.
“If you’ve ever met the guy, you know he’s absolutely harmless,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “He never says a bad word about anyone and it’s not like it’s a surprise in our dressing room that this has happened. As long as Marty’s here, he’s going to be a part of it.”