Capitals Trade Rumblings
Setting Record Straight On Mantha & Rumors Of Capitals Trade Talk
After being a healthy scratch for four of six games, Anthony Mantha trade speculation started to heat up. Here’s what I’m hearing about the 28-year-old and rumors that the Washington Capitals may be interested in dealing him to the Montreal Canadiens
This last stretch hasn't been an easy one for Washington Capitals forward Anthony Mantha. After Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson made their returns to the lineup, the 28-year-old became one of the odd men out, as the team had to balance 14 healthy forwards. He was scratched for four of six games but got to draw back in over this last stretch with unforeseen circumstances and injuries coming up on this road trip.
With Mantha watching from the press box, though, there's been some speculation from blogs that he could be a trade candidate, with some suggesting that the Montreal Canadiens may have interest in the forward and have a defenseman to offer back in Joel Edmundson. However, these rumors have no substance.
Per my source, Montreal and Washington have not discussed any kind of Mantha deal. The two teams have had trade talks before after Connor Brown's torn ACL, but none regarding the 6-5, 234-pound forward.
READ MORE ON WHN: Peter Laviolette Shares Injury Update On Tom Wilson After Leaving Washington Capitals' Tilt With Colorado Avalanche
It is unclear, though, where the road goes from here. Mantha has been struggling at both ends of the ice this season, as inconsistency, a lack of physicality and missed assignments on defense have frustrated head coach Peter Laviolette. The forward has said he has to improve his game and work ethic, and he's getting his chances but struggling to finish them.
Through 45 games, he has just nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points. It still puts him on pace for a solid 44-point season, but at a $5.75 million cap hit, that may not fit the expectations set for him as the team wants secondary scoring and was aiming for him to earn a top-6 role. That just hasn't been the case, though.
Looking at Mantha, there's no doubt the skill is there. When he's on his game, his shot, size and ability can make him dangerous, and there's a reason he went 20th overall in 2016. However, given the scratches and inconsistency, his trade value isn't as high as it may have been a few years back. Still, any talk of Mantha and Montreal is a stretch at the moment, and all speculation — not gospel.
Plus, with Tom Wilson's status up in the air after he took a shot to the right leg against the Colorado Avalanche, I would think (keywords "would think," as in just my take) that Washington may not be so quick to let Mantha walk. Wilson is currently listed as day-to-day, so it may not be a long-term thing. Right now, it's a wait-and-see situation, and we'll likely have an update at Thursday's morning skate.
There is another Capitals forward who has come onto the radar as a trade candidate: Lars Eller. Reports from The Athletic indicate that Washington would entertain offers for the forward in exchange for help on the blue line, as John Carlson (face) is on the long-term injured reserve and month-to-month after taking a slap shot to the face on Dec. 23.