The Washington Capitals have acquired defenseman Rostislav Klesla, forward prospect Chris Brown and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for forward Martin Erat and minor-league forward John Mitchell.
Klesla, a veteran of 659 NHL games, has one goal and four points in 25 games this season. When healthy, he is a solid shutdown defenseman that can fill a need on the left side of Washington's defensive depth chart. The 31-year-old, once considered one of the Coyotes' top defensemen, fell out of favor in Phoenix, which waived him in November. Klesla, averaging a career-low 16:31 of ice time per game, went unclaimed and has spent 21 games in the minors.
Both he and Brown, who led American Hockey League rookies last season with 29 goals, will report to the Hershey Bears.
Erat's departure ends a tumultuous year for the 32-year-old, who joined the Capitals from the Nashville Predators at last season's trade deadline. A top-six fixture with the Predators, Erat never truly settled in as the Capitals' coaching staff struggled to find a place for him, leading him to make public his desire for a trade in November.
Even after receiving more of a prominent role, Erat was steadfast in that desire. In 62 total games with the Capitals, Erat scored twice and earned 25 assists, numbers that did nothing to dispel the belief that acquiring him for highly-touted prospect Filip Forsberg last year was a colossal mistake.
“I think it’s all about how the coaching staff trusts you, you know,” Erat said in a conference call on Tuesday. “And if you get time on the ice, I get my confidence. I feel pretty confident I’ll get my scoring touch back.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the Capitals acquired forward Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks for a 2014 fourth-round draft pick. After these moves, the Capitals have roughly $1.8 million in salary cap space, according to CapGeek.
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