Given the injury-plagued season he’s had, it would be understandable if Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha’s preference was to take a one-year deal this summer and then consider his options in the 2021 offseason when he’d be a year away from unrestricted free agency eligibility. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case as he told Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News that he’s hoping to be around for a while yet:
I want to be here for the long term. I would love it, that’s for sure. We’ll see what they offer this summer.
What they offer will be the intriguing part. He’s certainly well on his way to landing a significant raise on his current $3.3MM cap hit which also represents his required qualifying offer in June. However, while he sits third in team scoring with 15 goals and 18 assists in 40 games heading into Friday’s action, he has missed 28 games. While his point per game average (0.83) is the best of his career, is that at least somewhat skewed by the smaller sample size instead of a full season to date?
That will make his tour through restricted free agency certainly interesting. Mantha is eligible for salary arbitration and considering his improved production since signing his bridge deal, he could push to become the highest-paid player on Detroit on a long-term pact. Dylan Larkin holds that title currently at $6.1MM but his current deal covered four years of restricted free agent eligibility whereas Mantha only has two.
Although the 25-year-old has already stated his intentions, it doesn’t appear if any talks on a new deal have started yet. Mantha himself indicated that expects the talks to be “complicated” which is a fair assessment considering how much time he has missed and acknowledges that it makes the possibility of a deal between now and the end of the regular season rather unlikely. Regardless of the timing, this will likely be GM Steve Yzerman’s top priority this summer, no matter how tricky the talks may be.