Anthony Mantha has a lot to prove this season. Known as a speedy winger who uses his large six-feet five-inch frame and 234-pounds to lay out opponents, he needs to return to the form that made him a brand name player in the NHL.
Mantha was a dangerous forward who could put points on the board while he was playing for the Red Wings. He had back-to-back 48 point seasons where he scored 24 and 25 goals over 80 and 67 game campaigns respectively.
In April of 2021, the Red Wings moved Mantha to the Washington Capitals for a package of forwards Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik, and a 2021 first-round and a 2022 second-round pick. The move to the Capitals turned out to be a poor one for both Mantha and Washington.
Mantha’s best season with the Caps was this past one. He played 67 games where he scored 11 goals and 16 assists for a total of 27 points. His time-on-ice last campaign was also the lowest of his career. He played just 14:13 per game.
None of that would be much of a problem, except the Capitals are paying Mantha a cap hit of $5.7M. He will need to pick up his production to reach his value.
Mantha has shown dedication to trying to improve his play. He hired a “mental coach” last season and the pair continue to work together. Physically, he has also been putting in the work to return back to form. The winger has already lost 10 pounds.
If the off-ice efforts pay off, Mantha may be able to improve his play. Everyone is hoping that he can live up to former expectations. If he’s able to pick up his pace and start scoring again, the Leafs could be interested in bringing him in. The cost of acquisition would be next to nothing for Toronto.
The Leafs have a great deal of work to do to establish exactly who they are this season. With the trade deadline months away, we will see which NHL player rises to the top of the Leafs’ wish list.