For Detroit Red Wings fans, Monday’s trade deadline was quiet until the end. Before fans could pack their bags and move on from an underwhelming deadline, a blockbuster happened. Anthony Mantha was traded to the Washington Capitals for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 1st round pick, and a 2022 2nd round pick. Mantha just signed a four-year contract extension with the Red Wings. His prominent role on the top line will be sorely missed — but the return general manager Steve Yzerman received was too good to pass up.
Introducing Jakub Vrana & Richard Panik
Two new faces in Vrana and Panik join the Red Wings. Vrana, who will replace Mantha’s role on the top line, appears to be a very close comparison to Mantha. Panik, who is signed for the next two seasons, can become one of the forwards the Red Wings expose in the expansion draft. It appears that Yzerman has yet again run away with the trade deadline. By replacing Mantha’s offence while stocking the draft cupboards, he has maximized the return while trading a powerful offensive weapon. With that being said, who are the new Red Wings? What do they bring to the table?
Meet the New Red Wings: Jakub Vrana
Jakub Vrana has been underutilized in Washington. Despite being relegated to the third line, Vrana has put up more even-strength points-per-game than Mantha has over the last three seasons. His biggest strength lies in his ability to drive offence. His strongest season came in 2019-20, where he put up 24 goals and 52 points in 69 games. Vrana has been able to create offence on his own while playing on a line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly for the last two seasons.
Vrana is currently a restricted free agent. He’ll likely ask for something closer to $4M a year. He’s younger, more affordable, and very close to Mantha’s talent level. While he doesn’t have the potential ceiling that Mantha does, Vrana is no slouch on his own. Similar to Mantha, concerns of effort have swirled around the Czech forward. Tempering expectations will be key with Vrana. He won’t explode on the offensive front as Mantha will, but it would be fair to assume that Vrana can reach anywhere from 55-65 points on most seasons.
Meet the New Red Wings: Richard Panik
Richard Panik is somewhat of a journeyman in the NHL. He’s played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Washington Capitals, and now the Detroit Red Wings in his nine-year career. Panik is a solid bottom-six player. He won’t make a huge impact on the scoresheet, but he plays a sound, strong hockey. He’ll likely replace Luke Glendening‘s role if Glendening moves on in free agency.
Panik has two years left on his contract with a $2.75M cap hit. The Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft requires the Red Wings to expose two forwards on contract. Frans Nielsen and Panik will likely fill those roles. It’s fairly easy to find bottom-six forwards in free agency. This is a win-win situation for Yzerman. He can save his team from losing valuable players while letting Panik walk at no cost. If Panik isn’t taken, he can still fill a role on the Red Wings. In his best season, Panik produced 44 points in 82 games with the Blackhawks. It’s more than likely that Panik will hover around the 25-35 point range, given his age and potential linemates.
It’s become abundantly clear that Yzerman has won the trade deadline — but what are your thoughts about Vrana and Mantha?
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