Erat: Limited role with Caps ‘very frustrating’

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It took all of one game for a playing time issue to unfold in Washington.

Martin Erat, acquired at last year’s trade deadline for Filip Forsberg, expressed disappointment with his role in the Capitals offense after playing just 9:01 in Tuesday’s season-opening loss to Chicago.

“It’s very frustrating. I don’t know what to think about it. It’s hard, I have no idea what’s happening,” Erat told the Washington Post. “If you played 11 years in the league, I don’t think you lose your position in three or four games in the preseason. I don’t know.”

Erat, 32, has struggled to find his niche in Washington. Knee and elbow injuries limited him to just nine regular season and four playoff games last year; the acquisition of Mikhail Grabovski and return to health of Brooks Laich have further clouded the issue as there’s a logjam for minutes at forward.

That said, it’s clear head coach Adam Oates isn’t quite sure what he has in Erat.

He moved the Czech forward all over the place during training camp, giving him skates at both center and wing on a number of different lines. Erat was also routinely playing alongside Mathieu Perreault, who was dealt to Anaheim last week.

A veteran of over 700 NHL contests, Erat said he’s willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the club, but acknowledged he needs to sort things out with Oates.

“I’m going to do what’s best for the team,” he explained. “Like I’m not going to decide I need to go and scream somewhere. It’s between me and [Oates], and we’ll see how it goes.”