Golden Knights acquire forward Anthony Mantha from Capitals: Why Vegas made the move

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By Chris Johnston, Jesse Granger and Pierre LeBrun

The Vegas Golden Knights have acquired forward Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick and a 2026 fourth-round pick, the teams announced Tuesday.

The Capitals are retaining 50 percent of Mantha’s salary, meaning he’ll only count as a $2.85 million cap hit for the Golden Knights. That’s important for Vegas because it means the team will still have more than $4.4 million in usable cap space to acquire more players ahead of the deadline. It’s unlikely this will be Vegas’ last move, with plenty of other talented wingers on the market.

Mantha joined the Capitals in 2021 from the Detroit Red Wings, where he spent the first five-plus seasons of his career. Over four years with Washington, he’s compiled 92 points (44 goals and 48 assists). He’s scored 20 goals, the second-most on the team and his highest total in six years, through 56 games this season.

Mantha, 29, ranks as the No. 25 player on The Athletic’s Chris Johnston’s NHL trade board.

The Golden Knights, the 2022-23 Stanley Cup champions, sit third in the Pacific Division with a 33-22-7 record.

Mantha’s scouting report

The fit on the Capitals has never been quite right for Mantha, who acknowledged during training camp, “I feel like I haven’t been the player they wanted so far.”

At least the big winger has rediscovered a scoring touch. Even though Mantha has been available on the trade market since last year, his contract should become easier to move as he gets closer to unrestricted free agency this summer.

Mantha is a one-shot scorer who needs a lot of help getting the puck in shooting areas. Motivation shouldn’t be an issue with the direction his career has gone since being traded to Washington from the Red Wings. — Chris Johnston, NHL senior writer

What Mantha brings to Vegas

In Mantha the Golden Knights are adding a big, powerful winger with speed in transition and the skill to score from in front of the goal. At 6-foot-5, 234 pounds Mantha is immediately the biggest forward on the roster. With 20 goals already, Mantha is on pace for a career-high, and 14 of those came from the area right in front of the net. He plays a direct style of hockey, which coach Bruce Cassidy will like.

He should give Vegas some much-needed scoring punch on the wing, especially after the loss of captain Mark Stone, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with an upper-body injury. Whether he plays with Jack Eichel, William Karlsson or Chandler Stephenson, Mantha will add speed and skill to one of the top three lines. — Jesse Granger, Golden Knights staff writer

Required reading

(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

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