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Why the Red Wings Should Trade Anthony Mantha

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With the logjam of young forwards up front, someone will eventually have to go to improve the D. Here’s why I think it should be Mantha.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, hold up. Before you go rip me in the comment section, just hear me out. Now I’ve been waiting for the right time to post this, and on the heels of another injury, it may be the right time. Now what I am NOT saying is trade Anthony Mantha because of his injuries. What I am saying is I think he has the best value for trading for defensive help. Look, it’s simple, think of all the young forwards with great potential the Wings have, now think of the defensive prospects they have. It is a very fair assumption that some of the young forwards are going to have to be traded to help bolster the defense, as the unit right now is still sub-par. Here’s why I think it should be Anthony Mantha.

1. Mantha seems like he’s replaceable.

I’m just going to come out and say it, players like Mantha are replaceable in today’s NHL. He’s a big-bodied goal scorer, simple as that. Now, yes goal scoring can help a team, but in today’s NHL playmakers are much more valuable. And while he has shown that 30-goal scoring ability lately, his game has always been very inconsistent.

Also his inconsistencies come from what appear to me as laziness. Not only that, but the Wings have Filip Zadina and Michael Rasmussen who both can score. Now obviously they aren’t exactly like Mantha, but they both will be cheaper in 2 years, much younger, and, in my opinion, at least in the case of Zadina, have much greater potential.

I think it’s fair to assume Zadina will also be up by next year as well, so he’ll be looking for a roster spot. So instead of having to pay Mantha $6-8M next year after his bridge deal, why not stay young and dish Mantha for help defensively?

2. The market will be there.

I know I spent #1 criticizing Mantha’s game, but even though I think we can do better than him, the market will still be there too. Kind of contradicting I know, but he will only be 25 next year, and in the last year of his bridge deal. Now, depending on how he does the rest of the year, the 30-goal potential could very well be a major selling point, as teams are always seem to be looking for goal-scoring. To me, I see a team like Arizona, Edmonton, Carolina or New Jersey willing to trade for a player like that. All four have struggled with scoring this year, but also are all sort of on the cusp of becoming playoff contenders. That’s just a few names to throw out to give you an idea of who’s available.

What could a trade look like with those four teams? There’s been Justin Faulk’s name thrown out there for years now, or maybe a Dougie Hamilton, who’s a UFA in 2021. For New Jersey, you could look at Sami Vatanen, or try and put together a package to swindle a young blue-liner with major potential such as Mirco Mueller or Will Butcher from them. Really you want to target D-men who are under the age of 28 and don’t have massive contracts yet. Not to mention, they would greatly improve our blue line and would be instant Top 4 D. Or maybe you go after a wild card player with a connection to the team already, like Torey Krug who will be a UFA in 2020. These are obviously just some examples, but there is no doubt the market would be there for Mantha.

3. The Wings have a huge surplus of forwards

The Red Wings already have Larkin, Bertuzzi, Rasmussen and Athanasiou up and playing with the big club. Not only does the team have those four up now, but they are going to have Joe Veleno, Filip Zadina, Evgeny Svechnikov and Jonatan Berggren down the road too. Those are all players with Top 6 forward potential. The Wings are loaded with forward prospects, so why not trade off 1 or 2 of them to improve other parts of the team?

4. The Wings don’t have a huge surplus of defense

The team does have Dennis Cholowski up right now, and he is showing the potential of how good he could be. The other 6 D on the team, however, have an average age of almost 33. The farm system is thin on the blue line as well. The Red Wings have Filip Hronek and Joe Hicketts close to being NHL regulars, but their potential isn’t as big as one would hope. Jared McIsaac is another top D prospect, but he’s still a few years away. If you want to include Gustav Lindstrom you can, but he is also a few years away. On the other hand, you have to look at the potential the organization has on defense compared to up front. There is an obvious need on the blue line and depending on where this team is at next year, it may be time to go after a young, NHL ready defenseman.

5. Mantha just seems like the odd man out.

Dylan Larkin already got paid and he’s the golden child, he won’t be going anywhere. Athanasiou seems to have taken the next step and will be getting paid after next year similarly to Mantha. Not only that, but AA provides much more to the game with that speed of his than Mantha does, and helps kill penalties too.

Bertuzzi is looking like he could become a great player as well, and he most likely won’t be getting paid as much as the other three so there is more of an incentive to keep him. Like I said earlier, Mantha seems like a lazy player too, which contributes to his streakiness. If things aren’t going right, he seems to sit back and take nights off. I feel like that’s not what you need out of a player who’s best asset is goal-scoring. There’s a ton of young forward talent coming up soon looking for roster spots, and to me, I think it makes sense that Mantha should be expendable to help this team improve elsewhere.

Look, I understand no one ever wants so trade young studs under the age of 25. But imagine packaging him and Svechnikov, or someone else, for someone like Jacob Trouba, or hell, even go after Zach Werenski now since it seems like the worst kept secret in the world he wants to come back to Detroit to play with Larkin.

I’m not saying trading for either of these guys is probable, as it’s very slim. But you have to start package with a player like Anthony Mantha, a young, NHL-ready goal-scorer, in order to land top-end talent to improve the defense. However, I think 1 or 2 of the young forwards are going to have to go here soon, because this teams blue line is still a major hole. To me, it just seems logical that Mantha is, and should be, the odd man out down the road.