Abel to Yzerman

Abel to Yzerman

The Mantha/Vrana Deal

04/17/2021 at 2:44pm EDT

from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,

Up until the Red Wings and Capitals stunned the trading floor on Monday, the best deadline deal belonged to the Islanders, who jumped out ahead by five days and added dependable ex-Devils Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to a strong group of forwards.

But then, just as the dealin’ was nearly done, the Capitals filched the single-best talent that few knew to be available, acquiring 6-foot-5-inch right winger Anthony Mantha from the Red Wings.

“Wow!” said one front office executive, praising Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman for the deal....

The Capitals, always enamored by size and skill (why not?), surrendered slick Czech forward Jakub Vrana and Slovak right winger Richard Panik, whom Yzerman drafted for the Lightning in his Tampa GM days. They sweetened the package even further with first-round (2021) and second-round (2022) picks. Sweet haul, no doubt.

But the best player in the deal is Mantha, who pitched in with 1-1—2 in his Capitals debut Tuesday night. Few in the league have the new age Big M’s size and skill, which the Red Wings no doubt viewed to be true in November when they extended his deal for four years at a $5.7 million cap hit. Five months later, what, he’s trade bait?

The asterisk on Mantha, age 26, is his erratic consistency and motivation. He can appear maddeningly disengaged, even now seven years into his pro career. In part, that label was why, even with his size, he lasted until No. 20 in the 2013 draft (three picks after the Senators grabbed Curtis Lazar, don’t ya know?).

Vrana, 25, will be a restricted free agent in the summer, and the Capitals were concerned he might earn Mantha kind of money via salary arbitration. Now that’s Yzerman’s worry. Stevie Y is hoping Vrana (career-high 25 goals, 52 points) might find Detroit a comfortable fit with fellow Czechs Filip Hronek (D) and Filip ZadinaRW). If he’s right, that might bring some added value to the deal. Detroit is a hard sell these days.

The deal is somewhat reminiscent of the Bruins abruptly dishing Joe Thornton to the Sharks 23 games into the 2005-06 season, when no one knew the former No. 1 pick (1997) was being shopped...

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