Since the Capitals acquired him at last year's trade deadline in the deal that sent former first-round pick and top prospect Filip Forsberg to the Nashville Predators, Erat has scored just one goal in 58 games in Washington. That probably is not what the Capitals' front office had in mind when they gave up the No. 11 overall pick from the 2012 draft to bring him on board.
That lone goal, for what it's worth, came all the way back on April 16 of last season in a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He hasn't scored since.
It's a streak that has continued for 54 games and included 47 shots on goal. The latter number is the biggest part of the problem, of course. You can't score if you're not getting shots, and averaging less than one shot on goal per game simply is not going to get the job done. On Tuesday night he played nearly 19 minutes in Washington's 1-0 loss to the New York Islanders and failed to register a single shot. It was the 24th time this season he was held to zero shots, and in 12 of those games he played more than 15 minutes. So even though his role has changed throughout the year (even being relegated to fourth-line duty at times), it's not always due to a lack of ice time.
Based on his career shooting percentage, he's only about four or five goals off from where he should be at this point given that number of shots, which just further illustrates how few chances he has been able to generate. For a talented forward who has a track record of, at worst, second-line production throughout his career, this is a stunning fall.
It's also a pretty rare performance that could put him in some rather interesting company if he keeps going without a goal. According to the Hockey-Reference database, there have only been 52 forwards in league history who played in at least 48 games in a season and failed to score a goal.
Even though his goal-scoring and ability to generate shots on goal has cratered, he at least has 21 assists, which actually puts him right on pace for his career average on a per-game basis (0.44 per game). So it's not a completely lost season as he is at least helping to provide something from an offensive perspective.
Currently the most assists for a forward in a season with zero goals (minimum 48 games played) is 14 by Murray Murdoch of the New York Rangers during the 1936-37 season. Most of the players on that list are enforcer types, or guys who spent most of their time in that given season playing limited minutes on a fourth-line. None of them had the track record of offensive production that Erat has had throughout his career. Consider that the top 10 names on the list in terms of most assists without a goal combined for just three 15-goal seasons in their careers. Erat has eight by himself.
You have to think that at some point this season something, even if it's a crazy bounce or an empty net goal, is going to go in for him (even averaging just a single shot per game over the Capitals' final 25 games of the season would give him a shot at two or three goals based on his career shooting percentages).
But if it doesn't? History will have been made, even if it's in an infamous way.