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Former Red Wings Player Rehabs Reputation To Earn Trade



Anthony Mantha, Washington Capitals

The NHL trade deadline can be stressful for players. That was demonstrated last year when Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi was traded to the Boston Bruins. Captain Dylan Larkin was highly emotional talking to the media about the deal.

But for former Detroit player Anthony Mantha, his trade last night to the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights probably gave him a sense of accomplishment.

When the Capitals agreed to retain 50% of Mantha’s $5.7 million salary, the Golden Knights agreed to give up a 2024 second-round pick and a 2026 fourth-round pick for the big forward who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

When the season started, Mantha was viewed as a disappointing performer, a Capitals acquisition that never panned out. He had only 11 goals in 67 games last season. Mantha barely had a spot on the fourth line.  When the deal was completed last night, the Golden Knights see Mantha as a hot scorer who can bolster a banged-up Vegas offense. Vegas ranks 14th in scoring.

Career Season

Mantha, 29, has 20 goals this season. He’s on pace for 27, which would be the highest goal production of his career.

He has been cast as an underachiever, but certainly not this season, particularly over the past six weeks. He boasts eight goals and seven assists in his past 16 games.

Mantha’s inconsistency in his career probably means he won’t be able to match his current salary in the free agent market this season. But his desirability is higher than it was when the season began. If he plays well down the stretch and shows well in the playoffs, it could rise higher.

There’s a good chance Mantha will be the only former Detroit player to move before Friday’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline. But there are others with a chance of being moved:

Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, Pittsburgh Penguins

With several teams looking for a backup goalie, Alex Nedeljkovic could be an option. He has played well for the Penguins this season, posting a 2.85 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

Defenseman Nick Jensen, Washington Capitals

With the Capitals signing Rasmus Sandin to a five-year deal worth $23 million, the Capitals may be thinking about moving Jensen who played with Detroit from 2016-19. Jensen, 33, has two seasons left at $4.05 million. His cap hit might be too high to move now unless the Capitals will eat some salary. The Caps may be better off trading him this summer.

Right Wing Tomas Tatar, Seattle Kraken

He has been more productive (seven goals in 31 games) since being dealt from the Colorado Avalanche to the Kraken. Tomas Tatar also is +11 in those 31 games. Owning six seasons with 20 or more goals, Tatar has proven himself to be a consistent offensive producer. The Kraken are six points out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference. They probably will keep Tatar. But if they move any player, Tatar would be a low cost, minimal salary cap impact way to add secondary scoring.  The Red Wings once traded Tatar for a first-, second- and third-round picks. Tatar was traded for a fifth rounder earlier this season.