Anthony Mantha on deal with Detroit Red Wings: Steve Yzerman sees me as part of future

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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Anthony Mantha knows what is next: proving he is worth the investment Steve Yzerman just made in him.

Mantha said his new four-year, $22.8 million deal puts “a lot” of responsibility on his shoulders, ample as they are to carry such expectations. The deal, announced Tuesday, marks the first time since Yzerman was named general manager of the Detroit Red Wings that he has negotiated anything longer than a two-year deal. 

“Everyone knows we’re in a rebuild phase,” Mantha said. “Him signing me to a four-year deal also tells me he sees me as part of the future of the team, part of the guys that are going to help the team win, and that is the pressure that comes with it.

“I’ll have to bring my game to another level and try to help this team win.”

The Wings invested in Mantha (6-foot-5, 234-pound) because, at his best, he is a force; a goal scorer with just as good a knack for making passes. Injuries have derailed his attempts at hitting the 30-goal mark — the closest he’s come is 25, in 2018-19— but Mantha believes 30 “is something that’s reachable for me in the near future.” To that end, he’s been practicing rebound goals during scrimmages with fellow professionals who are in metro Detroit killing time while waiting NHL training camps can begin. 

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COVID-19 has disrupted the league schedule and is also why Mantha didn’t sign until November. He said the sides have been talking for three-to-four months. Yzerman was busy in October with the draft and free agency, and then the arbitration case for Tyler Bertuzzi. Mantha said he was advised by his agent not to file for arbitration because negotiations were going smoothly. There was no threat a contract would not materialize, it was just a matter of when. 

Mantha, 26, said talks centered a contract of four or five years. It was never going to be fewer than four because a two-year deal would have taken him to unrestricted free agency. Now Mantha will have four seasons to prove his worth and sign an even bigger contract at age 30. 

In addition to seeing more goals in his future, Mantha sees more wins.

“We’re going to be contenders at some point,” he said. “A rebuild needs a couple years to go there and then the team is going to be good, and that is when the opportunity is going to come. If it’s year two or three or four, I’ll be around, and hopefully I can help this team.”

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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