from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
“When you are a top line, you have to be a top line every night,” Blashill says. “There’s a lot pressure on that line, just like the (Boston’s Patrice) Bergeron line and the (Colorado’s Nathan) MacKinnon line have to perform at a high level every night.
“You’re given a lot of ice time and with that comes the burden of making sure you play great every night.
“If you have a line that’s kind of a definitive No. 1 line, which we do, and they get lots of opportunities, they have to produce at both ends of the rink.”
No one doubts these three players will be significant parts of the Wings’ future for a long time. But only Larkin is signed long-term. Bertuzzi and Mantha are both restricted free agents who are likely to get multi-year contracts this summer (or whenever this regular season finally does end).
Mantha, in particular, could be a tricky negotiation. He was headed for a career-best season before his injuries, and still had nearly a point-per-game average when the season was paused (38 points in 43 games).
The decision for the Wings, and Mantha, is whether to revisit this situation in another year, which Mantha might prefer to do. Mantha can be an unrestricted free agent after two more seasons. Or the Wings and Mantha could negotiate a long-term deal now.