Anthony Mantha sees contending, 'magic 30' in his future as he signs 4-year deal with Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings have secured a big piece of their rebuild.

The Wings announced Tuesday they’ve re-signed restricted free agent forward Anthony Mantha to a four-year contract worth $22.8 million, with a $5.7-million salary-cap hit each season.

Anthony Mantha and the Red Wings are seeking better fortunes in a realigned NHL for 2020-21.

It’s the longest and most expensive contract general manager Steve Yzerman has extended to any player since Yzerman returned to the Wings’ organization.

And it shows the faith Yzerman has in Mantha, a responsibility Mantha is looking forward on rewarding.

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

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

The 6-foot-5, 234-pound right wing continues to have the potential to be among the premier power forwards in the NHL.

The four-year term works for both Mantha and the Wings’ organization.

Two years would have taken Mantha to unrestricted free agency, and the Wings didn’t want that, nor did they want three years, as Dylan Larkin would also become an UFA at that point.

Four or five years were agreeable for Mantha, and the two sides worked out a four-year deal.

“Four years brings me to a good age to where I could sign another four- or five-year deal if everything goes well,” Mantha said. “We’re going to be contenders at some point. A rebuild needs a couple years to get there and then the team’s going to be good. That’s when the opportunity is going to come, and I’ll be around and hopefully I can help this team.”

Mantha didn’t file for salary arbitration, believing negotiations with the Wings were going well.

“It was a long process, but my agent was telling me things are going the right way and I needed to trust him,” Mantha said. "Even us not filing for arbitration, it was my agent’s call, he told me things are going in the right direction. He said, 'Trust Steve. He’s a man of his word, we’ll get things done.’”

Mantha, 26, had 38 points (16 goals) in 43 games last season, which was shortened by injuries and the pandemic.

Mantha has been hampered by nagging injuries throughout his four-year career, yet his 82 goals since arriving in Detroit in 2016-17 trails only Dylan Larkin (84) for the team lead during that span.

Mantha is aiming for the 30-goal mark that has been elusive in his short career.

“Everyone talks about that magic 30 and it’s something that’s feasible for me in the near future,” Mantha said. “That’s a goal I’m set on right now.”

It’s something Mantha is aiming for next season, whenever that is.

The pandemic continues to rage on and has set back the NHL regular season – it would be a month old normally already – to sometime in early in 2021.

Not playing organized hockey right now is something that baffles and frustrates Mantha.

“It’s actually crazy to think about, but every September or October since I’ve been 5 years old, I’ve been playing hockey,” Mantha said. “Here we are now, we’re just basically sitting at home and still playing golf.

“I don’t think there’s stress, but guys are anxious to get back out there. Twenty-four teams played in the playoffs and we’re just sitting at home watching hockey and didn’t really have a competition or anything of that sort in the last eight or nine months. Guys want to get back out there and hopefully we can have an estimated time and an actual date, that would be step number one.”

Twitter: @tkulfan