The History of Trade is a mini series going through each team’s best and worst trades of all time. Each team has their own history and some may cross over, but the series will try to stick to each team. This article will focus on the Washington Capitals trade history, finding the best and worst of all time.
While the Capitals aren’t the oldest organization in the NHL, this doesn’t exempt them from a few big trades. Throughout their 43-year history so far they have made a few very good, and a few very bad trades. Here are the worst.
Washington Capitals Trade History: Best and Worst Trades of All-Time
Despite being around for over four decades now, the Washington Capitals do not have a ton of top-notch trades to boot. They have plenty of decent ones, adding solid pieces here and there and cutting ties from players before their decline, but one stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The first name mentioned above, Ryan Walter, was a very promising young center at the time of the trade. The Capitals took him with the 2nd overall pick in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft. Through 307 games in four seasons with Washington, he had 114 goals, including a 38-goal season in his last year with the Capitals.
Those four seasons would end up being the high point of his 1,003-game career. He would go on to have 29 goals and 46 assists in his first season with the Canadiens. Despite that, he would never top 50 points in a season again, continually diminishing year after year.
The other name listed was that of Rick Green. Green was also a high pick, being the 1st overall selection in the 1976 NHL Amateur Draft by the Capitals. He would go on to play in 367 games in Washington, scoring 31 goals and adding 127 assists during that time.
Montreal was not getting an offensive-minded defenseman in Green, and this continued to be the case over his seven seasons with the Habs. He would score a whopping (note the sarcasm) 10 goals during this time, with his single-season high being three in 1985-86. He would only have 79 assists as well. 89 points over seven seasons, even for a defensive-minded blueliner, is nothing to write home about.
To understand how important this trade was for the organization, the best is going to be saved for last. The rest of the players involved are not necessarily to be underrated, but few in Capitals history compare to Langway.
One of the names that come the other way was that of Brian Engblom. He was undeniably the least impactful of the four names. He would only play in 79 games for the Capitals he would go on to score five goals and have 23 assists, 22 of them coming during the 1982-83 season.
Next on the list is Doug Jarvis. Jarvis was certainly not a big name in Montreal, but was well respected and known to be a serviceable top six defenseman. He would come to Washington and play in 265 games, scoring 31 goals and adding 81 assists to go along with only 70 penalty minutes. Truly a defenseman you could rely on consistently.
Craig Laughlin is another of the three names on this return that was decent, but not much else. He would play in 428 games for the Capitals, scoring 110 goals during that time, breaking 20 goals twice and also having a single 30-goal season as well.
On top of his relatively decent ability to score goals, he had 173 assists to add to his tally as well. He would prove to be a fairly decent middle six forward during his time with the Capitals, but certainly was not the main man brought in here.
Now for the cherry on top of the cake. Rod Langway was a massive part of the Capitals organization, and still to this day is one of the most respected names in Washington hockey history.
At this point in time, Langway is 10th all-time in games played (726). Despite not being known for his talent in the opposing end of the ice he would go on to have 25 goals and 177 assists. But that was not where Langway made his mark.
Langway was well-known for being one of the most staunch defenders of his time, winning the Norris trophy on two occasions, 1982-83 and 1983-84. He would also be named to the NHL All-Star First Team in both of those seasons as well, making the All-Star Second Team in 1984-85. He would top off the individual accolades with four consecutive All-Star Game appearances between 1983 and 1986 with the Capitals.
Another thing Langway was known for outside of his stellar defensive play was his fierce leadership. He was also attributed as being a large part of the reason why the Capitals never chose to relocate, having success during his time there.
Langway had his number five jersey retired by the Capitals organization on November 26, 1997. He was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2002.
There is a couple of trades that could be considered here. However, there is one that is currently playing out that is head and shoulders above the rest. We have to go back to April 3rd, 2013 to find the worst trade in Washington Capitals history.
Hindsight is 20/20, but this trade never made any sense. The Capitals traded away then 20-year-old left wing Forsberg for virtually nothing of value. Just one year before this trade they used the 11th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft on the young Swede and then seemingly gave up on him.
Since being sent to the Nashville Predators Forsberg has turned out to arguably be in the upper echelon of NHL left wings. He has played in 311 games for the Preds to this point, scoring 108 goals and adding 125 assists to his career tally.
His performance has been especially good in the last three seasons. He played in all 246 regular season games between 2014-2017. These seasons include two 30-plus goal seasons and two 60-plus point seasons. His worst goal total was 26 back in 2014-15 and his worst point total was 58 in 2016-17.
Forsberg, now 23, has proven to be an invaluable piece to the Predators organization, and he will continue being just that for many years to come.
The first of the two players going the other way was Michael Latta. Latta was taken in the third round, 72nd overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by Nashville. Before being included in this trade he had never skated on NHL ice during the regular season.
During his time with the Preds, he spent three seasons in the AHL with their affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. He played in 122 games for Milwaukee during this time, scoring a total of 23 goals and adding 50 assists.
When he came to Washington he would play in nine games for the Hershey Bears in his first season, having one goal and two assists.
The following season, 2013-14, he would play 52 games for Hershey, scoring 14 goals and adding 20 assists to his tally. This would catch the attention of the Capitals, but he was not able to replicate his success at the NHL level. Latta would have just one goal and three assists in 17 games for the Capitals that season.
In the following two seasons he would get more time on the ice with the Capitals. He would play in 53 games during the 2014-15 season and playing 43 in 2015-16. Latta would have six assists in the first season and three goals and four assists in the latter.
That was the last time Latta has played in the NHL. Since then he has played in the AHL for the Ontario Reign, Rockford IceHogs, and the Tucson Roadrunners.
The second part of this awful trade was veteran Martin Erat. On paper, the Capitals were receiving a veteran of 723 games who had 481 points. This included five 50-plus point seasons. He would not continue this run of relative success in Washington.
Erat would go on to play in 62 games for the Capitals. During this time he would only score two goals, including a one-goal season in 53 games in 2013-14. Although he would add 25 assists to his total, 27 goals in 62 games was not the production the Capitals were looking for. Especially when he was definitely the more proven of the two players they received.
To make it more concise, the Capitals traded a player who has broken the 200-point mark at the age of 23 for two forwards who had a combined 42 points in 175 combined games.