Detroit — The Red Wings have a long list of free agents to deal with this summer, but there’s one who stands out.
Anthony Mantha has shown the talent to be a big-time goal scorer in the NHL — when he isn’t injured, which has been a nuisance in Mantha’s career.
Mantha has missed 28 games this season (knee, then a punctured lung), yet he still has 15 goals in 40 games, and nobody is doubting he’ll run down Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi (both with 18) for the team lead before the end of the season.
Mantha is a restricted free agent this summer, so his leverage is limited. He’s in line for a substantial raise from the two-year, $6.6 million ($3.3 million salary cap hit) deal on which he’s currently playing.
But how much more? And how much will the missed playing time complicate negotiations?
Mantha said his representatives and general manager Steve Yzerman have yet to discuss matters, from what Mantha understands.
But Mantha is ready for some ticklish negotiations.
“It will be complicated, I think,” Mantha said. “But it’s not in my power. My power is to play hockey. My agent and Stevie are going to talk, maybe they’ve started. I don’t even know.
“It’s hard to base right now. I played 40 games this year. I missed so many games, so it’s hard to go for the extension before the end of the year. We’ll see in the offseason.
“Hopefully it goes quick and I’ll be here for a long time.”
Mantha is definitely a huge core piece for the Wings moving forward, and he is happy for that.
“I want to change this team around,” Mantha said. “I want this team to be competitive. We have a good young group of players and we can make the transition (to being a contender).”
Mantha would like a long-term deal — he can be an unrestricted free agent in two years — but isn’t sure what to expect.
“I want to be here for the long term,” Mantha said. “I would love it, that’s for sure. We’ll see what they offer this summer.”
Seider nears return to ice
There was some good news coming from the minor leagues Thursday for the Red Wings.
Defenseman Moritz Seider, last summer’s No. 1 draft pick, was scheduled to resume practicing and could be in the Griffins lineup as soon as Friday in Rockford.
Seider hasn’t played since Feb. 22 because a mid-body injury.
Coach Jeff Blashill said Seider was scheduled to be on the ice Thursday for a practice in Rockford, Illinois.
“They’re hoping to have him for the next game, so it’s just a matter of he went through some conditioning,” Blashill said. “It was a matter of getting him ready to get back in the lineup.”
On the minds of many Red Wings fans, is whether there’s enough time to bring Seider up for a quick look-see in the NHL.
The injury definitely threw a wrench into that possibility.
A major reason is Grand Rapids is in a torrid playoff race. The Griffins, with 61 points, are holding off San Antonio (60), Chicago and Rockford (both with 59), and Texas (55).
Only two of those teams will qualify for the playoffs as the third and fourth seeds in the Central Division.
Yzerman has made it clear he would like to see the Griffins make the American League playoffs, to gain valuable postseason experience. Having Seider in Grand Rapids for the stretch run would help the Griffins in that regard.
Blashill said he hasn’t talked to Yzerman about the possibility of bringing up Seider to the NHL.
“Right now the big focus is getting him back in the lineup in GR, and getting him back and healthy in the lineup,” Blashill said. “That’s what our focus is right now.”
Forward Filip Zadina (lower body) is skating on his own, but a return to the Wings lineup still isn’t clear.
Blashill said Zadina will see team doctors Friday, and might have a better handle of when a return to the lineup is possible.
Zadina has missed the last 15 games.
“We’ll know more once he gets practicing with us,” Blashill said. “He skated again (Thursday). Once we get him to practice, I can give you a way more definitive time frame.”
Catching their breath
Getting a day off and two quality days of practice came at the right time for the Wings, who had gotten through one of the busier portions of the schedule.
“Having some practice time helps for sure," Blashill said. "We hadn’t worked on neutral-zone forecheck since we kind of made changes in our neutral-zone forecheck, so it’s good to practice that. It’s good to get going, but more than anything, just hitting the mental refresh button again, and our guys seem in good spirits.
“It is nice to get a bit of a breather.”
Blackhawks at Red Wings
► Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Little Caesars Arena
► TV/radio: FSD/NHL/97.1
► Outlook: The Blackhawks (30-28-8) continue to stay on the edges of the playoff race, but time is running out. … RW Patrick Kane (51 assists, 80 points) and C Jonathan Toews (56 points) continue to lead the Blackhawks attack.