The Reasons For Keeping Anthony Mantha To Start 2023-24 The Season

There’s no question Washington Capitals forward Anthony Mantha has been somewhat underwhelming during his brief tenure in the District. His skill-set has been “as advertised” on occasion, but he’s lacked the consistent drive and finish to become a bonafide top-six winger in the nation’s capital. 

Mantha’s $5.7 million price tag is also a choke point for most, leaving one fishing through the available free-agent forward listings. In addition, Mantha is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2023-24 season, and will most likely be finding a new team next summer, if not sooner.

So why should the Capitals consider holding on to Mantha? Simply put, motivation and trade value.

If you take a look at Mantha’s previous contract year, he had his best points-producing season of his career. The surge during his last contract year could be pure coincidence and/or happenstance. Nonetheless, it’s another data point in the Mantha decision tree.

There is also a chance that new head coach Spencer Carbery can light a fire under Mantha. Carbery is an excellent motivator and relates well to his players. He knows who needs to be stroked and who needs to be scolded, and is excellent at the finer points of maximizing player potential. That combined with a little extra push on Mantha’s end in a contract year could go a long way..or longer way.

Right now Mantha’s trade value is at an all-time low and would likely cost the Capitals a draft pick(s) just to unload his weighty contract. In the event Mantha gets a good or even decent start to the 2023-24 season, his trade value and potential return will rise. Waiting to make a move mid-season will allow the Capitals to optimize the timing of a deal for the most beneficial return.

That’s the “why” it might pay to keep Mantha to start the season. We’ve documented the “why not” as well. Bottom line, the Capitals could certainly use his cap space, as there are plenty of point-producing options currently on the market or available via trade that can provide better points-per-dollar value than Mantha. And the Capitals need points producers.

The decision regarding Mantha will likely become known in the next couple of weeks. If the plan is to deal the winger, a trade occurring around the draft or in the following two weeks will likely surface. If the Capitals need cash to make a move to improve the team, it’s likely Mantha’s contract would be the first casualty, unless another player is moved in the deal.

If Mantha makes it to mid-July, he’s likely returning, unless Brian MacLellan gets an unexpected offer in the closing days of the off-season.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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18 Responses to The Reasons For Keeping Anthony Mantha To Start 2023-24 The Season

  1. Prevent Defense says:

    The Mantha contract is the classic Brer Rabbit Tar Baby — the more you punch it, the further stuck you become. It’s like a piece of horsemeat. The more you chew it, the bigger it gets

    Well, who knows, maybe Miracle Man Spencer Coach can coax a resurgence from Mo. Quite a few previous-regime stinky socks left behind for Newcoach Carbery to try and wash! His input to GMBM could be key. Does he want to struggle with Mo this season?

    • not yet nap time says:

      wherever you’ve been eating all this horsemeat, it a place I don’t want to dine at.

  2. Lance says:

    I agree. Mantha struggled but he’s not a bad character guy. There’s a fair chance he’ll score 20 goals. I wouldn’t be desperate to trade him away.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Don’t trade now. Who buys high and sells low?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Trade in December

  5. Anonymous says:

    Glad the people yelling “trade him now” aren’t managing my stocks.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Complicated issue for me. If we can acquire a scoring winger then I would do whatever I could to dump his salary to make room. If a team makes a good offer now I would move him. I would not at this time give him away if we don’t have a plan in place to make good use of the cap space.

  7. Lance says:

    The Caps plans are:

    #1 get Ovie the NHL’s all-time goal scoring record

    #2 start to looking for future stars to build a future Cup winner.

    The goal scoring record is important, let’s face it. That’s a record that may stand for 100 years.

    Mantha has struggled for the Caps. Not sure what’s up with him. Can he help Ovie to score goals? If so, great. If not, then trade him with the idea of finding a player who can help Ovie.

    Assuming that Ovie keeps scoring goals BMac can slowly add young star players through the draft and trades.

  8. Dave says:

    Initially I just saw the first part of the headline (“The Reasons For Keeping Anthony Mantha”) and thought this would be the shortest article in internet history, maybe even just a blank space with no text! And perhaps it would be followed by articles like “The Reasons Why Smoking Is Good For You”

    But you’re right: it’s unlikely his value could drop any further so unless there’s an urgent need to clear cap space there’s no point in selling low now.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Give him until Thanksgiving to prove his worth. He needs to have a good year so expect better at the start of the season.

  10. Carmine Abseil says:

    As a Wings fan, I was confused as to why SY signed him. Then when he traded him to the Caps, it showed his process. Unfortunately Vrana didn’t work out, but he was a better risk than Mantha – he wasn’t motivated since his rookie training camp and was completely unimpressive during that pre-season… I called him a bust then. If Steve Yzerman, Ovechkin, playing in the NHL, and millions of dollars all fail to motivate him I don’t see how the new coach can. Your best bet is to try and trade him while you can. Maybe to Columbus? They just brought in Babcock to destroy the team, he might want him.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Thanks for insight Carmine. Appreciate the varied perspective/ Yzerman is an excellent GM, Mantha/Vrána aside. MacLellan and Yzerman decided to switch two troubled players at the chance the change of scenery would do them good. It was worth a shot.

  11. hockeydruid says:

    As much s I would like to see them trade Mantha I don’t want to give up any pick or other players to see him gone. Honestly cutting him does no good as it has a negative effect on the cap. SO maybe holding him and seeing what he can do in training camp and for the first part of the season. Maybe the fact that this is his contract year will motivate him enough that the Caps can trade him mid season and get something for him. IF nothing else, and not wishing this to happen, maybe a pulled muscle that puts him in the IR long term would be best for all.

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