Predators general manager David Poile is way too modest to throw one in the general manager’s ‘fraternity’ under the bus. No way, not at all, not gonna do it.
So when asked, not so much in these words, how he fleeced former Capitals general manager George McPhee for Filip Forsberg in an April, 2013 trade deadline deal, Poile took the proverbial high road.
“Washington was one of the teams Marty Erat (who had a no movement clause) would go to. They were interested in Erat. And I told them what it would take for the deal. That’s the deal we made,” Poile said matter of factly. “That was who we asked for. It was the same thing with the other teams he provided me with.”
OK, cool. But for lack of a better term, Poile was dealing with one hand behind his back. Erat, who had a no movement clause in his contract, didn’t give Poile a lot of wiggle room, and it the Predators general manager had to drive a hard line to create leverage to land Forsberg, who leads all rookies this year with 20 points.
“If that didn’t happen with Washington or another club, we would have just waited until the summer and hopefully got what we wanted or Marty would have allowed us to talk to more teams – that type of situation,” Poile said.
Either way, Erat’s dislike of his situation in his Nashville, combined with Poile’s negotiations and the Caps’ undervaluing Forsberg, the 11th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, led to one of the biggest trade steals in the NHL over the last couple of years.
“There could have been another team I was talking to and they may not have had a forward and had a higher-end defenseman, which maybe at the end of the day we would have accepted as a trade,” Poile said (the thought of another defenseman probably freaking out Predators fans). “Dealing with the teams I was dealing with you’re talking about their best prospects.”
With the 33-year-old Erat on his second team – the Arizona Coyotes – off his second trade demand, and Forsberg ranking sixth in the NHL in points, how can it be seen as anything but just a royal flush? The trade essentially turned into Forsberg for Michael Latta, Rostislav Klesla, Chris Brown and a fourth-round draft pick in 2015.
Forsberg took his lumps in the American Hockey League last year, with 34 points in 47 games played and came back stronger and more confident. It shows in his game. Try to knock him off the puck along the boards? Not so easy anymore.
He uses his hands to get into scoring position, and then fires an awkward looking shot that fools goaltenders.
“I think deceiving shot,” linemate Mike Ribeiro said. “He shoots in stride too. Good whip of the wrist. You don’t really know where he’s going with it. It’s pretty hard to defend.”
He seems to have clearly benefited, not just from the natural progression of age, but also by being put on Nashville’s top line with Ribeiro and James Neal, two veterans who other teams have to pay attention to. Then again, it seems like it’s Forsberg who is driving that line, not the other two.
“I was just determined to come here and make the team out of camp,” Forsberg said. “From then on I was taking it day by day to try to get better and better every day and every practice.”
In some ways, those who watched Erat every day -- like me -- could sort of see where the Caps were coming from the day they made the move. They were going for a Stanley Cup and Erat was asked to play a defensive style in the Predators system -- and still put up 57 points the previous year.
But then again, unless the Capitals knew something about a then 18-year-old prospect which we didn't ... the deal proved costly for the organization, and for McPhee who lost his job this past summer.
And in case you’re wondering, there is no relationship between Filip and Peter – his namesake who will be entering the Hockey Hall of Fame this week. Just an odd ability to hold onto the puck along the boards.
“I will talk to Peter and ask him if he knows who Filip is,” Poile quipped.
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