For days leading into the NHL trade deadline, there was a cloud of mystery hanging over the Washington Capitals.
There were so many moving parts that it was almost impossible to figure out in which direction the team would go prior to the April 3 deadline.
Would Mike Ribeiro be traded or would he be signed to an extension?
Would the Caps be buyers or sellers?
Would they try and bolster their defense or perhaps try and get deeper on offense?
Along the way, a funny thing happened—the Caps started winning more games and closed the gap towards taking over the lead in the Southeast Division to a mere two points.
While Caps' fans were thrilled that the team was back in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race—and playing their best hockey of the year to boot—no one could really be prepared for what actually went down at the deadline.
For those of us who watched it unfold, it is one of those things that will stick with you for a while. Just before the trade deadline had expired, word came down that the Caps had executed a trade, but no one knew who was involved.
The first inkling something was afoot came from Pierre LeBrun, who tweeted the following:
Caps have made a trade but not sure who yet
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 3, 2013
That was cryptic enough to get everyone worked up and it seemed that a deal had been done involving Ribeiro. Many Caps' fans then tuned into the 'Caps' Trade Deadline' broadcast on the Caps' website and we waited for word on what had gone down, and waited, and waited...and waited.
A good hour after the trade deadline had expired, the news finally broke—and the collective jaws of many Caps' fans hit the floor.
Living in California, I could hear the groans of the Caps' faithful all the way across the country—and for good reason.
It has already been called one of the worst trades in the history of the organization by many fans, some of them have been extremely vocal.
That is probably a bit harsh as neither Erat nor Forsberg has ever actually played a game for Washington. Spend some time on a site like Russian Machine Never Breaks, however, and you will get a good feel for how disappointed Caps' fans were.
Regardless of how bad the trade appears to be, it is just one example of how the Caps utterly failed to improve themselves at the deadline.
There are several more reasons why the Capitals dropped the ball on what could have been a very good day for them, but here are three reasons why the Caps failed to improve themselves at the trade deadline.