3 forwards the Red Wings must avoid in NHL free agency

Depending on who stays and who walks this offseason, the Detroit Red Wings may look for a forward in NHL free agency, but there are a few to avoid.
Nov 12, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Kings right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33)
Nov 12, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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The Detroit Red Wings could sign some game-changing free agents to help them officially take another step on the rebuilding rung in 2024-25, but others will come with a ‘buyer beware’ tag attached to them. Today, we’re talking about a trio of forwards who will carry that very tag in July. 

Just because the following three forwards are free agents, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman would be wise to avoid in NHL free agency; it’s also important to remember that none of the following names are bad players. If Yzerman signs any of them, there is a good chance they will bring value to the Motor City, so you can argue in favor of each. 

But as things have gone this season regarding these players, there are more cons than pros. One proved to be a great scorer this past season, and it nonetheless raised his value. Another also looked good, but he also wasn’t healthy for much of the season, while the third name on this list struggled through one of the worst campaigns imaginable. 

Anthony Mantha, Vegas Golden Knights

We’re starting with a former Detroit Red Wing here with Anthony Mantha, who has put together a good year with the Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights. He finished the season with 23 goals and 44 points, and he showed off a physical edge down the stretch that the Red Wings could use. 

That said, Mantha is on this list not because he would make a bad signing for the Red Wings. He’s one player I would endorse returning to Detroit because he could bring in some serious depth scoring, especially after this past season. Although he didn’t seem to be as physical this year while in Washington, that changed in Vegas, but my concern with Mantha has to do with his potential contract length. 

He played well enough this season to justify more than just a “prove it” deal, and there is also a good chance he signs on for another two or three seasons. It’s ironic because, before the All-Star Break, there was a different narrative going on with Mantha, who had 23 points and 15 goals in his first 43 contests. 

But he picked up his play after the All-Star Break with 21 points and eight goals in 31 outings, catapulting his points per game from 0.534 per to 0.677 per. Before the All-Star Break, Mantha may have been on pace to sign a modest, one-year deal, but that’s not quite the case now, and he could get in the way of a high-end prospect in Detroit if he signed a multi-year contract.