When a player asks for a trade, sometimes eyebrows raise, but life keeps moving. When two players ask for a trade heads turn. When a third player asks for a trade people talk. So let’s talk.
The Washington Capitals acquired Czech born player Martin Erat and Michael Latta from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Filip Forsberg, a 2012 first round draft pick, on April 3rd, 2013. Latta was assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate and Erat is asking for a trade. The first requests were reported in early October, but weren’t confirmed until November 25th by Katie Carrera via Twitter. Erat cites a couple different reasons for wanting to leave, despite his full no movement clause. According to TheRussianMachineNeverBreaks one reason is because of Adam Oates‘ coaching style and his system centering around Alex Ovechkin.
On November 27th, Russian born Dmitry Orlov‘s agent Mark Gandler made it known to the public that a trade was desired, as reported by TheRussianMachineNeverBreaks. Orlov has been bounced back and forth between the Capitals and their AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears, regularly this season. Despite being regularly called up, Orlov did not play until AFTER it was understood that Washington was calling Orlov up to fulfill an escape clause in his contract which would allow Orlov to leave the NHL for the KHL without a specified number of days on NHL payroll. Since being given ice time, Orlov has said his desire to leave is no longer present, as long as he’s playing. What happens after the KHL loophole is closed up and Oates benches the young player again?
It didn’t take long, only two short days, before a third player was confirmed to have asked for a trade. Michal Neuvirth‘s agent, Patrik Stefan, also made it clear that the Czech born player was also looking to get out of D.C. in a hurry.
Michal Neuvirth’s agent Patrik Stefan says he’s hoping for a change of scenery out of Washington for his client. A fresh start…
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) December 30, 2013
Three Eastern European players on a team with a system designed, by Adam Oates, to make another Eastern European player (Alex Ovechkin) look supreme, have all asking to be moved as fast as possible.
Erat was an expensive acquisition and will be difficult to move given cap restrictions. There isn’t an overly large market for goalies at the moment, so Neuvirth may have trouble moving as well. Orlov may be the easiest to move as Toronto, Ottawa, and the New York Rangers are all reportedly looking for defensive movement; Toronto has already made two moves this season involving defensemen. All of these moves are putting a huge crunch on the front office and the trade deadline is rapidly approaching.
Before the deadline is the Olympic freeze. Capitals’ GM George McPhee, says he’s working the phones, but he must feel there is something wrong with the way things are being run when something like this happens. Perhaps he’s already forgotten Semyon Varlamov and his expressed frustrations with the team. The KHL was a huge ace being held against McPhee in those trade dealings. Maybe Alex Ovechkin is really the one calling the shots with how the team is run? Maybe Adam Oates just plays favorites with certain players? Any way you look at it there is something seriously wrong on the inside of this club and I don’t think we have even seen the tip of the iceberg. Oates was reported as saying the Capitals wouldn’t use a buyout on a player because it was indicative of poor contract management and their organization stood behind all the decisions they have made on contracts. Well, making players miserable is one way to get them to leave while saving face and money.
Do the Capitals have a problem on the horizon? If they keep winning, does it matter?