The Vegas Golden Knights are looking to defend their Stanley Cup title this spring. Vegas won it all last year just six years into its existence. However, they ran into a bit of a slump ahead of the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline. The defending champions decided to load up. Their first move was to acquire Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals. With the deadline in the rearview mirror, let's hand out some NHL trade grades.

Full trade

The Vegas Golden Knights acquired veteran forward Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals. In return, the Capitals acquired a 2024 second-round pick and a 2026 fourth-round pick. Washington retained 50% of Mantha's remaining cap hit. As a result, the Golden Knights are only on the hook for $2.85 million.

Golden Knights trade for Anthony Mantha

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Anthony Mantha (39) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Knights wanted to add some forward depth due to some recent injury. Captain Mark Stone is out for the rest of the season. This freed up the cap space to acquire Mantha, though he wasn't the only forward they traded for. Veteran Tomas Hertl came over from the San Jose Sharks, though he is also injured.

Mantha will play an important role in Vegas until Hertl returns before the end of the regular season. And to be fair, he's earned the opportunity to play a meaningful role on a contender. He had some rough years with the Capitals after being traded by the Detroit Red Wings. However, he has turned a corner in 2023-24.

Mantha scored 20 goals prior to the trade with the Capitals. His 34 points before the deal represent his highest point total since the 2019-20 season. Those totals aren't superstar-level, but they are respectable. It's even more respectable when you take into account his status as one of the more effective five-on-five scorers in the league.

The Golden Knights certainly paid a bit of a steep price for a player that has struggled in recent seasons. However, they get Anthony Mantha at 50% retained. And he has given Vegas reason to believe he can meaningfully contribute the rest of the season. Overall, it's a fine deal.

Capitals trade Anthony Mantha

The Capitals part in the Anthony Mantha trade is a bit more complicated. On one hand, this return is better than most give it credit for. There's this sentiment that Washington should have received a first-round pick for the veteran winger. And that feels a bit far-fetched. A conditional pick may have been feasible, but a straight first was a high ask.

That said, Washington gave up a lot for Mantha. They traded a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and two roster players to Detroit in 2021. To only get a second and a fourth-round pick when you trade him years later is certainly a tough pill to swallow. Through this lens, it's understandable to see this as disappointing.

However, his performances before this season dragged his value down. Washington sold him at his highest possible value, and they got a decent enough return. The Capitals recouped a second-round pick after trading their own and now have five picks in the first three rounds. Washington does fine here.

Grades and final thoughts

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights receive fine marks for the Anthony Mantha trade. Vegas added a veteran winger who has turned the corner this season. At 50% retained, it's a fair gamble to take if you think he can contribute. For Washington, they likely envisioned things going differently with Mantha. But, given the circumstances, they received a nice return for the pending free agent.

Vegas Golden Knights: B+

Washington Capitals: B-