The Detroit Red Wings should hold onto Anthony Mantha. Period.
Last week, Mantha was a healthy scratch, sending speculation all over the place. It also revealed a deeper divide in the fanbase where many don’t feel as if Mantha is the player he should be. There were many calls for him to be traded.
Now national writers are weighing in and indicating that Mantha might not reach his full potential with Detroit. From TSN’s Matt Larkin:
"Might it make sense, then, to listen on offers? There would be a market for him, even in Year 1 of a four-year contract carrying a $5.7-million AAV. The idea of Mantha landing on a competitive team with a more of a pure playmaking center feeding him passes is exciting. He could experience a rapid and dramatic breakout."
Here’s Mantha’s prospect video that was done a year after he was drafted. Give it a watch because it’s interesting to see now that we have seven years of hindsight.
It’s interesting because you hear a lot about the player he could be and it’s even more interesting how then coach Mike Babcock describes the best way to motivate the young forward (at the 1:17 mark). “The harder he (Canada coach Brent Sutter) was on him, the harder he played.”
While fans were correctly upset at the benching, Mantha did have his best game two contests later. And in the same breath, if anyone is going to know what buttons to push, it’s Jeff Blashill. I know he’s not well liked, I know he makes decisions with lineups that are maddening at times. But he’s inevitably going to have a better pulse on things than anyone on the outside will. And as I’ve written before, he didn’t wake up and become a bad coach suddenly. He wanted to prove a point to Mantha, and he has been better.
Not to mention during yesterday’s game, when Mantha did this:
The plug shouldn’t be pulled on the Mantha era in Detroit. I don’t disagree that you listen to offers if they’re presented–any smart general manager, which defines Steve Yzerman–will absolutely hear anyone out for an offer.
One other thing Larkin wrote:
"Looking at Detroit’s big picture: the rebuild remains glacially paced. The Wings are waiting on sniper Lucas Raymond, center Joe Veleno and big D-man Moritz Seider, among others, and will pick high in the first round again in 2021. Mantha is 26. By the time this Detroit team peaks, he could be nearing the end of his prime."
This is where I strongly disagree. I think there’s a very real chance that Raymond, Seider, and Veleno will be in Detroit next year. I also think Yzerman rids himself of the Frans Nielsen contract with a buyout while having several other deals fall off. This opens the door to more Yzerman-like players, which in theory brings a greater infusion of talent.
Maybe then, when surrounded by more options that can feed him and diversify scoring, Mantha will be the lethal goal scorer we know he is–and saw again last night.
If Yzerman gets the deal of a lifetime that sets the Wings up for the next decade, by all means, trust the Yzerplan.
Until then, I hope to see Mantha in a Red Wings sweater for a long time.