The Washington Capitals paid a high price for Martin Erat, trading away one of their top prospects in Filip Forsberg. But the club has clawed its way back into the playoff picture, and Erat is expected to make them even more offensively lethal heading into the postseason. If he can help them make a deep run, the move might be worth it.
But to help, Erat needs to be healthy. The winger left Saturday's game with the Florida Panthers -- -- just his second in a Caps uniform -- after being boarded by Erik Gudbranson on a hit that the Department of Player Safety will definitely review:
Gudbranson received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct, and that may not be all he faces. That was a nasty hit from behind and he'll be fortunate to play in the Panthers' next game. You can't drive through a guy like that when you see nothing but the numbers.
But the Capitals likely aren't all that worried about Gudbranson, not when Erat had to be helped of the ice in visible pain. With the awkward way his legs were splayed going into the boards, he'll be as fortunate to play the next game as Gudbranson.
George McPhee has already faced plenty of criticism for the Erat trade. No one could have predicted this, but if Erat is unavailable for the postseason, that criticism will be even worse.