PHOENIX — The Phoenix Coyotes made a deal Tuesday in hopes of landing a left wing to play with Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal.
Rich Nairn with the Coyotes confirmed reports that Phoenix sent defenseman Rostislav Klesla, forward Chris Brown and a fourth-round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for forwards Martin Erat and John Mitchell.
“We’ve been looking at Martin for a long, long time,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. “He was really a terrific player in Nashville for a long time. Went to Washington, obviously didn’t work for him there. He reminds me a little bit of Radim Vrbata. He fit with us. He left us. It didn’t work, and he comes back and has been a great player for us.
“We think with our Czech players and Czech synergy, we have good luck with the Czech players. And with Martin, we’re excited to have him. There was some question over the last day or two based on our recent play of whether we’re sellers and going to get rid of people. Well, we still believe in this group. We’d like to add to this group. Until, we’re out of the players, we’re going to see if we can get there. I think Martin is going to certainly help us in that respect.”
Erat, a long-time member of the Nashville Predators, didn’t pan out during a stay with the Washington Capitals. After seven-straight seasons hovering around the 50-point mark, Erat saw a dip in production in his final season in Nashville.
In the past two seasons with Washington, Erat posted a total of 27 points, 24 (1-23-24) of which came this season. His salary is fairly high this year at $3.75 million but then drops to a more palatable $2.25 million next year.
“We think he’s a player that can fit in our group,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. “I liked him as a player in Nashville. He’s a versatile player. Nashville is a little bit like us where everyone has to contribute. He’s kinda out of that vein. We have a couple of Czech players that know him, so we will see how that goes.”
The Coyotes headed east will not affect the current NHL squad. Klesla has not been the same player since suffering a big hit early on in the season and has been plying his trade in the AHL as of late.
Brown has been in the AHL since October. During a brief callup, he didn’t score a point.
While the Coyotes made two deals Tuesday, Maloney revealed that the team made not yet be done heading into Wednedsay’s 1:00 p.m. MST deadline.
“There’s some other names out there that we are still looking at both forwards and defensemen to see within reason if we can help this club start winning games,” said Maloney.