The Nashville Predators are not necessarily ready to say bye-bye to their playoff chances.
When the National Hockey League’s trade deadline arrived Wednesday afternoon, however, they definitely were not buyers.
In one of the day’s final deals, Nashville shipped 31-year-old forward Martin Erat and a prospect, Michael Latta, to the Washington Capitals for 18-year-old Filip Forsberg, the 11th overall choice in last year’s draft.
Earlier in the day the Predators traded veteran defenseman Scott Hannan to San Jose for a conditional draft choice.
Following Tuesday’s games, Nashville was ninth in the Western Conference standings, tied with St. Louis at 38 points but having played three more games than the Blues. The 10th, 11th and 12th-place teams were no more than two points back and all had at least one game in hand on the Predators.
“We have used draft picks in recent years to add players at the trade deadline,” general manager David Poile said. “Over the last several years, we traded away four first round picks. It was imperative that we add a potentially dynamic offensive forward such as Forsberg.
“Our goal remains the same — to win the Stanley Cup. We believe our current team is a playoff-caliber team. At the same time, we have to be mindful of the long-term and this deal allows us to acquire a top-end young offensive forward that will help us.”
Erat, a seventh-round pick in 1999, is second to David Legwand in all of the franchise’s primary career offensive statistics. He had 163 goals and 318 assists (481 points) in 723 career games. He led or shared the team lead in points each of the last two seasons and was a model of consistency with between 49 and 58 points each of the last eight seasons.
He had four goals and 17 assists in 36 games this season, which tied him with Legwand and Shea Weber for the team lead.
He has two years remaining on a seven-year, $31.5 million deal.
Latta, a third-round choice in 2009, had eight goals and 26 assists in 67 games for Milwaukee this season. The Hockey News recently named him the franchise’s fifth-best prospect.
“It is always difficult to trade a player who was drafted, developed and who has produced for the franchise for many years such as Martin Erat,” Poile said. “However, Marty came to us in recent days and indicated a trade might be in his best interests. Thus, the process began and we were able to explore options with our primary goal being to acquire a young top end forward that would address our most critical need.
“We thank Martin for all his contributions to the Predators’ success over the years and wish him and his family the best in Washington.”
Forsberg recently completed his season in Sweden’s second division. His 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 38 games were second only to Pontus Aberg, a second-round pick by Nashville last year.
The 6-foot-1, 188-pound Forsberg was named that league’s top junior player.
“With one of the best goaltenders in the world in Pekka Rinne, and the top defenseman in the game today in Shea Weber, along with Roman Josi, Kevin Klein and other young defensemen we continue to develop, we believe we are well-positioned at these two positions, but have lacked a dynamic offensive forward.” Poile said. “In Filip Forsberg, we are adding one of the top rated young forwards in the world; we are excited to have him join our other emerging young talent and solid veterans at the position.”