Caps send Erat to Phoenix for Klesla, Brown


Martin Erat asked, and he received.

The Capitals forward, who demanded a trade out of Washington in November, has been traded to Phoenix in exchange for Rostislav Klesla and forward Chris Brown.

Washington will also get a fourth-round pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, while the ‘Yotes will obtain the services of AHL forward John Mitchell.

The move marks the end of Erat’s disastrous stint in D.C. Acquired from Nashville at last year’s deadline in exchange for prospect Filip Forsberg, Erat failed to find his niche in Washington and struggled under head coach Adam Oates, eventually serving as a healthy scratch this season.

Erat has one goal and 23 assists in 51 games this year, with two years left on his deal at $4.5 million per. His lack of production has been a running theme but is slightly overblown and exacerbated by the paltry goal total — he’s actually has the fourth-most assist on the Caps, and eight points in his last nine games.

“We think Martin will excel at the way we play,” Phoenix GM Don Maloney explained. “I think he needs a breath of fresh air.”

As for what’s going to Washington…

Like Erat, Klesla fell out of favor in Phoenix this year and was placed on waivers, eventually spending some time with AHL Portland. The 31-year-old has just four points this season but is an experienced veteran presence, having played in over 650 NHL contests during his 14-year career. Brown has only played in six games this year and 11 during his NHL career.

Klesla and Brown will both report to AHL Hersey, the Caps have announced.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen