The Washington Capitals had a busy trade deadline. The action started on Sunday, April 11 when Washington traded Jonas Siegenthaler to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick. On April 12 the Capitals made two additional trades.
One of the trades was for Michael Raffl. The Capitals acquired the forward from the Philidelphia Flyers in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick. The second Monday trade was a true blockbuster. Washington received Anthony Mantha from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 second-round pick.
It is fair and important to figure out the reasoning behind these trades. It is equally important to look at who these new players are and how they will impact the Washington Capitals lineup.
Michael Raffl is a 32-year-old left-handed forward. He is six feet tall and weighs in at 201 lbs. Raffl played 504 games with the Philadelphia Flyers, registering 81 goals and 79 assists. In the 2021 NHL season, Raffl has played 34 games, registering three goals and five assists.
Raffl served as a utility player for the Flyers. He played both wing and center as well as appearing on all four lines during his eight-year tenure as a Flyer. Raffl’s off-ice personality and veteran experience helped him stay a fan favorite in Philadelphia.
It is unclear exactly what role Raffl will play for the Capitals, but his versatility allows him to fill a number of roles. Raffl provides further offensive depth for Washington as both a winger and a center. He has proven to be a good penalty killer and has performed well in the playoffs. Raffl will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Washington has little salary-cap space available so it will be interesting to see if he is re-signed.
At the moment Raffl is out with an undisclosed injury, but he is expected to make his return sometime in the near future.
Anthony Mantha is a 26-year-old forward who shoots left. He is six foot five and weighs in at 234 lbs. He was drafted 20th overall in 2013. Mantha has since played 302 games with the Detroit Red Wings, recording 95 goals and 99 assists. So far this season Mantha has played 42 games with eleven goals and ten assists.
Mantha provides physicality, skating ability, and shooting ability which makes him a threat to opposing goalies. He was an important piece of the Red Wings offense and it appears that Washington leadership will try to make him an important piece of the Capitals offense.
Mantha made his debut with the Capitals on Tuesday, April 13 for the team’s 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He played on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and TJ Oshie, recorded 14:59 time on ice, a goal and an assist. The assist marked Mantha’s 100th career assist.
Mantha’s debut was a good showing of his scoring ability and his ability to mesh with the Capitals. He looked comfortable with his linemates and the style of play in Washington. If Mantha can continue to produce and form connections with his teammates he should be able to keep his top-six spot.
Mantha’s contract extends to the end of the 2023-2024 season. Mantha has struggled with both injuries and consistency in the past, so this gives Washington time to see how he plays before signing him or letting him go.
While it may have hurt to see Vrana, Panik and two draft picks go to Detroit, Anthony Mantha should provide solid offense for the Washington Capitals.