1. What happened with Martin Erat? Obviously, we Columbus fans aren't sad to see him go (until we start seeing him next year in the same division...), but it seemed surprising that he'd want to be traded. Is this a harbinger of bad things to come in Nashville?
DH: The Erat trade was certainly shocking, even more so because he requested it. There are some of us who haven't bought the notion that everything is hunky-dory with the Predators, and suspect that there is a real issue with attracting & retaining top-end talent. This development lends a great deal of evidence to that theory, and you can't help but wonder next whether Shea Weber will really play out his 14-year contract here. Unlike Pekka Rinne, Weber didn't exactly jump at the chance to make a long-term commitment to this team.
2. Forsberg is a nice piece, but obviously that's a future piece. Is this a sign that the Preds need to rebuild and aren't thinking they can make the playoffs this season?
DH: That is absolutely the impression this move leaves, but it's a fairly realistic one. Even if the Predators make the playoffs, this isn't the sort of team you go out and acquire a rental player for. Selling isn't necessarily a bad thing in this situation, but what hurts is that they're giving up a good player with two affordable years left on his contract in Erat. Certainly Forsberg jumps to the head of the list of Nashville's forward prospects, but he won't help down the stretch this season. This is a "present for future" hockey deal, and our best hope is that Forsberg can step in and start contributing next season (but 2014-2015 is probably more realistic).
3. Will there be some disappointment in the Preds' dressing room that Erat wanted out, and/or that trading him away for a prospect might signal them "giving up" this year?
DH: There might be some of that, but the counterargument is that now you have a bunch of young forwards with a ripe opportunity dangling in front of them. Taylor Beck has made a strong impression in his first few games with the big club, and wingers like Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson (both currently injured) can aspire to a leading role with Erat gone. The Preds are set to begin a new chapter of their story, and the role of Leading Scorer is very much wide open.
Our thanks to Dirk for answering our questions. Take a trip over to On The Forecheck for more on the Erat deal as well as today's game!