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Early Returns: Who Did Better in the Vrana and Mantha Trade?

A handful of games after the the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals made a big trade, who got the better player?

Jakub Vrana Detroit Red Wings four goals
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It’s not often you look at a big trade and know that both sides of the deal must be extremely happy with the move they made. Both the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings must be elated with the early returns from the two players like landed at this year’s deadline. The Anthony Mantha for Jakub Vrana deal (it included some other pieces) was arguably the biggest trade in 2021 and the deal is paying dividends for both teams.

Related: Red Wings Trade Anthony Mantha to Washington Capitals

Mantha Has Been an Ideal Fit

Mantha has fit like a glove in Washington. With four goals and five points in five games, he’s exactly what the Capitals thought they were acquiring when they moved a number of assets to land what could be a 30-goal scorer in the NHL and acquire some cost certainty in his contract.

In their first four games together, Mantha, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie have skated for 41:52 at five-on-five, recording three goals and posting a 63.24 shot attempt percentage. That trio has dominated possession since the time they were put together. Mantha scored his fourth goal in four games April 18th and with that, becomes the first player in franchise history to begin his Capitals tenure with a four-game goal streak.

“He’s obviously a big body, he can skate,” said T.J. Oshie. He added, “You can tell he can score. I don’t think he’s gone a game without scoring for us yet. He’s so good for us on the walls and on our breakouts and in the offensive zone, using his body around the net or in the corners to keep puck possession and give us more O-zone time.”

The coach likes the early returns too. Peter Laviolette said:

“He’s a big body out there. He uses his size really well, I think, to protect pucks and to hang on to pucks in the offensive zone. He’s got gears with regard to speed, he can really crank it up, and he’s playing with a couple of good players, so it’s a tough line to match up against and play against.”

Related: Maple Leafs’ Foligno Taught Dubois, But They’re Not Friends (On the Ice)

Vrana Shows Signs of Untapped Potential

While the hockey world (certainly Washington fans) talked glowingly about Mantha, the other night, Vrana entered himself into the conversation. Only two players have more even strength goals per 60min of ice time the past three seasons than Vrana: Alex Ovechkin Auston Matthews. Against the Dallas Stars, Vrana reminded everyone that it would be a mistake to overlook him.

He scored four goals in one game the other night versus Dallas. An incredible performance, the Red Wings have to be pumped they’ve got a player here that could out-produce any of the pieces of that particular trade and he could be a key component of their roster moving forward. He’s now got six points in five games and Chris Osgood said he could see Filip Zadina and Jakub Vrana playing on the same line next season. That’s a huge win for the Red Wings.

Vrana, was acquired along with Richard Panik and a pair of draft picks in exchange for Anthony Mantha at the NHL Trade Deadline. He became just the second player in Red Wings history to record a hat trick within his first four games with the team. He joins Jud McAtee in that elusive club, who accomplished the feat nearly 80 years ago on Nov. 2, 1944.

Ironically, Jakub Vrana is the first Red Wings player to score four goals in a game since Anthony Mantha, who he was traded for on April 12.

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