Detroit Red Wings: Analyzing Anthony Mantha’s New Contract
|Photo Credit: Mike Mulholland/MLive.com|
The Detroit Red Wings locked up one of their center piece core players this week, signing forward Anthony Mantha to a four year deal, worth $22.8 million overall ($5.7 million average annual value).
A former first round pick out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Mantha posted back to back 20 goal seasons in 2017 and 2018. Before that he scored 50-plus goals in each of his last two seasons in the QMJHL.
This past season Mantha was on a 30-goal, 72-point pace until an injury forced him to miss the majority of the season.
At his best, Mantha is a physically opposing force with a skill set very much made for the new NHL. His body size allows him to play as physical as he wants, engaging in a number of fights over the years.
That is unfortunately also why he has struggled to stay on the ice, as he has missed time in each of the last three seasons with an injury that resulted from a fight.
“I want him to stay healthy. I think three of his (career) injuries may have come in fights,” Said Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman. “I think there’s some luck involved, and our hope is Anthony remains healthy.
There is little doubting Mantha’s importance to the Red Wings, and the numbers reinforce that. A deeper look over the past three seasons prove that his injuries, and the fact that he has played on a struggling team is what keeps him from being in the spotlight more than he already is.
*Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.
Mantha has ranked at least average in every individual offensive metric, and at least better-than-average in everything but shooting percentage.
His back-to-back 50-goal seasons in the QMJHL would have you thinking he is a pure goal scorer, but his primary assist rate ranks higher than any of his other metrics.
The average shooting percentage may be a little concerning but the fact there isn’t much of drop off from his goal and expected goal rate shows he can maintain the high output.
Being one of the highest volume shooters in the league also helps him maintain his output despite the average shooting percentage.
Looking at Mantha’s on-ice metrics - adjusted for score and venue - was the biggest surprise for me. Detroit had statistically speaking the worse season of any team in the history of the salary cap era this past year, and haven’t made the playoffs in each of the past four seasons (I used the last three years for my sample size).
That being said, Mantha grades out as a positive impacting player, with his expected goal share finishing in the top-65 percentile.
Part of being a struggling team means spending more time in your own end than on the offensive side of things. Mantha’s 52.3% puck possession metric ranked in the 76th percentile.
The biggest question, how does the contract stack up? It’s hard to go too far back and compare cap hits on other contracts that are similar. With the cap changing from year to year, a $5.7 million AAV now is different than it was ten years ago.
That being said, thanks to CapFriendly we can look at contracts that are similar to Mantha’s, and not just in dollar amount, but in the player’s age and contract status (a fellow restricted free agent like Mantha).
I looked at the ‘comparable’ contracts, according to CapFriendly that was also signed 2018 or later, resulting in seven matches. Looking strictly at how they performed offensively, I compared Mantha with the other seven players whose contract matched up with his. The sample size is the three years prior to signing the deal.
Most of the players listed here are more known for their goal scoring ability, as you can tell by Mantha finished fifth among the group despite being one of the better goal scorers in the entire league over the last three seasons.
He does the lead the pack when it comes to creating for others, finishing with best primary assist rate in the group, and third overall in total points. Overall he finishes toward the bottom when it comes to expected goals and shooting percentage, but there is no doubting Mantha perfectly slides into this group comfortably.
Signing Mantha to a long term contract was always part of the plan. He is going to have to stay healthy, especially as the Red Wings go from ‘rebuilding’ to ‘contender’ status over the next couple of seasons.
Whenever the season starts up, there is no doubting that only another injury will keep Mantha from emerging as one of the better players in the league.
“It’s going to be awesome. It’s crazy to think that at 26, you’re in the second half of the oldest guys on the team,” Mantha said on the Red Wings website talking about being one of the veterans on a rebuilding team. “Obviously we have all these young guys that will roll up maybe this year, maybe next year so it’s going to be exciting to see and I’ll help them out for sure.”
Mantha appears ready to not only take on the task of being an impact player on the ice, but a mentoring role off of it.
What are your feelings on the Mantha contract? Was it a risk to invest this much into a player with an injury history like he has? Or are the injuries easily managed as long as he keeps the gloves on his hands? Let us know in the comments below and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.