Martin Erat was very frustrated after being limited to just 9:01 minutes in the Capitals’ season opener on Tuesday. On Thursday, Capitals coach Adam Oates used him even less.
Erat was bounced around quite a bit during training camp and now he’s being largely restricted to fourth line duties. It’s not like they’ve missed his secondary scoring thus far, but it wasn’t too long ago that they surrendered top prospect Filip Forsberg to the Nashville Predators to get him.
In Nashville, Erat was remarkably consistent, recording between 49 and 58 points in eight straight campaigns going into the shortened season, but he was also regularly used as a top-six forward. The Capitals have a fairly solid top-six as it is and Erat will have a tough time cracking it.
Even their third line of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, and Joel Ward seems set, at least in the short term.
This is an issue that Oates doesn’t have an immediate answer for, according to CSN Washington, but barring an injury, Erat might not get much of an opportunity.
For his part, Erat’s willing to “do what’s best for the team.” He still has two seasons left on his contract with a $4.5 million annual cap hit. That should be plenty of motivation for a Capitals team up against the salary cap to come with a solution to this problem.