“We weren’t sure he was available or not available but we identified him as a great fit for our team,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Thursday during an appearance on Hockey Central. “We thought he could come in and fit well with some of our skilled guys and make a major contribution and so far it’s worked out well.”
Mantha was acquired at the trade deadline from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick.
He and his linemates, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, have 15 combined points in the four games since Mantha was acquired.
“He’s fit really well with Backstrom and Oshie,” MacLellan explained. “They seem to have a lot of elements that complement each other and he provides a lot to that line.”
At six-foot-five and 234 pounds, Mantha’s size and physical presence happens to be aligned with MacLellan’s vision of the team.
“I think size and skill is how you win, especially in the playoffs,” MacLellan added. “I grew up watching the Atlanta Flames and played a little bit in Calgary (winning a Stanley Cup there in 1989) and they were big, skilled teams and I think that’s the path to a championship.”
Mantha also scored in his final game with the Red Wings, so the 26-year-old has a five-game scoring streak heading into Washington’s pivotal three-game series against the New York Islanders that begins Thursday.