As if the Washington Capitals needed more injury to insult. Former first-round pick Filip Forsberg is headed to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Nashville Predators. He scored his eighth goal of the playoffs, as the Predators pulled away from the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 to win the Western Conference Finals 4-2.
It was 2012 the Capitals were coming off a heartbreaking seven-game series loss to the New York Rangers in the second round. Washington was sitting in an enviable position having the 11th and 16th pick overalls in the first round. They had the luxury of picking the best player available with their already loaded roster intact. That player became Forsberg with the 11th pick after he slid out of the top-10 thanks in large to a run of defensemen.
Forsberg was supposed to be the perfect complement to Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom as the teen grew into his body. The team would then take Tom Wilson with the 16th pick overall. A year later then-general manager George McPhee — along with assistant GM Brian MacLellan — inexplicably traded Forsberg to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Michael Latta and Martin Erat. The Capitals were shooting to win now and with a plethora of young talented forwards, the Capitals felt somehow, they had decided to make the franchise better at the time.
Unfortunately, the Capitals did not win now. In fact, as you all know, they haven’t won in the future either. Latta is playing in the American Hockey League no longer a part of the Capitals organization. Erat is playing in the KHL. Wilson, he has been nothing more than a bottom-six forward.
Fast forward to four years later after the trade, the Capitals haven’t gone beyond the second-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. McPhee is now the GM of the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights. Meanwhile, MacLellan is the Capitals GM a move that occurred after McPhee was fired.
In 2015, MacLellan admitted trading Forsberg was his biggest regret although he didn’t have executive order power back then.
“I think [Forsberg] has played well. Obviously he’s one of the leading candidates for the Calder Trophy. If you’re asking if I would like to do a do-over? Yeah, sure,” he told Adam Vignan of NHL.com.
Meanwhile, Forsberg has been every bit as good as advertised. Playing on an injured but talented roster in Nashville, he led the Predators through their Stanley Cup run that featured them eliminating the No. 1 seed in the Central Division and in the Pacific Division. Forsberg has a team-high eight goals, 15 points, and a plus-17 rating. Numbers that have alluded the Capitals’ stars over the course of the years in the postseason.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 23, 2017
Now as the Capitals are looking to regroup after another disappointing end to their season, Forsberg was skating around the ice rink of Bridgestone Arena in celebration of taking his team to one step closer to hoisting Lord Stanley. The surreal moment cements the worst trade in Capitals’ history.