When Brian MacLellan sent Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik (salary dump), and first- and second-round picks to the Detroit Red Wings for forward Anthony Mantha at the trade deadline, the Capitals general manager explained that he made the deal because the young Czech forward was “frustrated” under new head coach Peter Laviolette. There was also another reason.
“He has arbitration rights,” MacLellan said in April. “He’s got some good numbers. Projecting that salary, we get some cost certainty with Mantha. We know what that contract is.”
Fast forward four months later, Vrana, a restricted free agent, just signed a new multi-year deal with the Red Wings. Vrana’s cap hit is worth less than Mantha’s. Meanwhile, the Capitals might need to make a minor trade before the season to have a full 23-man Opening Night roster.