The Capitals made a significant deadline add on Monday with an eye both on the present and the future with the acquisition of forward Anthony Mantha from the Detroit Red Wings.
The Caps sent forwards Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik plus a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick to the Red Wings in exchange.
Mantha, 26, brings a big body at 6-foot-5, 234 pounds. He is a productive forward with 11 goals and 10 assists in 42 games with the Red Wings this season, and has twice in his career scored over 20 goals and has a career-high of 48 points.
This deal has both present and future implications for Washington.
Mantha is a skilled player with a big frame which seems to fit the mold of the type of player the Caps covet. He will contribute right away in what the team hopes will be a lengthy playoff run. Mantha is also signed through 2024 with a cap hit of $5.7 million.
Washington is facing a significant cap crunch in the offseason with Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Samsonov both on the final year of their contracts. Vrana was on the final year of his deal as well and due a significant raise on his current $3.35 million cap hit. Adding Panik as part of the deal also frees up his $2.75 million cap hit that runs through 2023. Essentially, this deal provides cost certainty in the future.
At first glance, this seems like a steep price for the Caps.
They traded away a 25-year-old Vrana who has more points than Mantha (11 goals, 14 assists) and who ranks second on the team in 5-on-5 scoring this season and it took two high draft picks to get the deal done. But adding Panik to the deal increased the price Washington had to play in terms of draft picks and the move was made in order to clear salary. Detroit had extra cap space to use and renting their cap space came at a cost.