Shortly after the trade deadline passed on Monday, April 12, the news started to leak that the Detroit Red Wings made a deal to send Anthony Mantha to the Washington Capitals for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 second-round pick.
While the initial response outside of the Motor City was anything but positive for the Capitals, adding Mantha could be the spark Washington needs to win their second Stanley Cup in three years.
Mantha, a 26-year-old from Longueuil, Quebec, uses his size, speed, and strength to play on both wings and has often been Detroit’s most lethal player while on the ice. He possesses a heavy shot with a quick release and has good hands in close for someone that is 6-foot-5 — reminiscent of a young Rick Nash. Mantha will bring a lot of skill and grit to the Capitals on their second line and will be a great one-two power forward punch opposite of Tom Wilson.
Here are Mantha’s top five moments from his time with the Red Wings.
#5 — OT Winner in Montreal — March 21, 2017
With only three overtime and nine total game-winning goals to his name, Mantha is still making a name for himself in clutch situations. While he was the hero of the Centennial Classic, scoring the game-tying goal with less than a second remaining on the clock, he still never quite found his full potential with the Red Wings.
Mantha would often show spurts of it, however, including his overtime winner against the Montreal Canadiens on March 21, 2017.
The play starts with Danny DeKeyser fighting through a check to complete a zone entry, then dropping the puck back across the blue line. Mantha picks up the puck on the blue line skating to his right, and makes a backhand toe drag around Alex Galchenyuk, off the outside of his left skate, and then stickhandles into a shooting position around Shea Weber. The speed and execution at which Mantha pulls this off is an excellent showcase of his hands and the quick release of his shot.
#4 — 4-Point Night Against Tampa Bay — March 8, 2020
In what would be their next to last game and final win of the 2019-20 season, Mantha would score a goal and record three assists as the Red Wings snapped a 16-game regular-season losing streak against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Mantha’s second assist of the game happened late in the second period of a one-goal game. Instead of running out the clock, Mantha joined Dylan Larkin on the rush and gave his captain an option along the boards for a pass entering the zone. He then uses his speed, strength, and body positioning to protect the puck and drive wide on Carter Verhaeghe before throwing the puck to the net for a crashing Larkin.
That goal tied the game at 2-2, heading into the third period, where Mantha would finish with another goal and an assist in the final frame before Robby Fabbri won it in a shootout.
#3 — Gordie Howe Hat Trick — November 15, 2017
A post about a Red Wings player would not be complete without bringing up Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe. As big as Mantha was, he was rarely asked to fight, although he was never one to shy away from sticking up for a teammate (from ‘Detroit Red Wings’ Anthony Mantha won’t stop fighting despite injury,’ Detroit Free Press, 12/31/18). While with Detroit, Mantha recorded only one Gordie Howe hat trick — a goal, an assist, and a fight — while with the Red Wings and it came against the Calgary Flames on November 15, 2017.
Mantha would finish the game with two power-play goals, both coming from tipped shots while anchored in front of the net, showing off his net-front presence in route to an 8-2 victory over the Flames. He would add one assist and a fight later in the third period.
#2 – First Career Hat Trick – March 31, 2019
In a spring game against the Boston Bruins, Mantha scored his first career hat trick in a 6-3 win at Little Caesars Arena. Mantha showed off his shot with two first-period goals, including a power-play goal with one second left in the period, to give the Wings a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. He would complete his hat trick, again on the power play, early in the third to tie the game at three and add two assists to help lead the charge for a Wings comeback.
Mantha’s five points on the night continues to be his career best for points scored in a game.
#1 – 4-Goal Night – October 16, 2019
After the Dallas Stars went up 2-0 in the Red Wings home opener for the 2019-20 season, Mantha had one of his most impressive games.
Starting early on the power play in the second period, Mantha would score two in the middle frame before completing the natural hat trick 15 seconds into the third. While the Stars would get one back 33 seconds later to tie the game, Mantha proved to be the hero by scoring his fourth goal in the final minute of the third to lead the Wings to a 4-3 victory.
Mantha has proven time and again that he can score many different ways for the Red Wings, a team that has sat outside of the playoff race since his rookie season. Now that he is on the Capitals, a team filled with skilled players to help support him, the hope is that he will be able to reach his full potential.
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Born and raised in Michigan, Kyle Knopp started playing hockey when he was 3 years old. Knopp has played, coached, or worked at every level of ice hockey — including three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings where he was part of the Stanley Cup Championship team in 2008. He covers the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers and is the editor of THW’s Morning Skate newsletter. You can follow him on Twitter @THW_Knopp.