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Red Wings trade rumor: Mantha to Buffalo for Ristolainen

Anthony Mantha of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates his third period goal with teammates while playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at Little Caesars Arena on April 02, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 4-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

DETROIT – I don't love reporting on rumors, but this is worth mentioning.

Earlier this week NHLTradeRumors posted a note about a "massive" trade between the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres. The trade would send forward Anthony Mantha to the Sabres in exchange for defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

Multiple reports earlier this summer have included how RHD Rasmus Ristolainen would prefer to play elsewhere than Buffalo this season and it's becoming more clear he may get his wish. According to sources the Sabres have held preliminary discussions with several teams including the Detroit Red Wings.

Detroit would be willing to part with Anthony Mantha to obtain the 6'4 24-year-old Finnish defenseman. Mantha finished last season with 25 goals and would provide Buffalo some much needed offense.

Cool. Other players and draft picks involved, perhaps?

Of course, Niklas Kronwall's retirement announcement this week added fuel to this trade rumor fire. His departure saves money and opens up a spot on the blue line.

OK so I lied -- I do, in fact, love reporting on these rumors ahead of training camp (begins Sept. 13 in Traverse City). It's fun to play GM.

What adding Ristolainen could look like

Allow me to add my 2 cents: This makes some sense for actual GM Steve Yzerman to do right now. He has this season to figure out what he has back there on defense -- Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley and Madison Bowey all become free agents next summer.

Meanwhile, there is a list of young defensemen who are trying to earn a spot in the NHL -- Dennis Cholowski, Filip Hronek, Oliwer Kaski, Moritz Seider, Jared McIsaac. Bringing in Ristolainen right now at $5.4 million a year (according to CapFriendly) through 2022 is not exactly necessary, but it would definitely speed up this defensive rebuild -- or would it?

Ristolainen, 24, is a big righthanded d-man who would be looking for a huge contract in just a few seasons. He essentially would become Detroit's top defenseman, whether you think he's worth it or not -- 43 points in 78 games played this past season and a whopping -48 rating. Yikes.

Do you want to add this guy to your team short-term? Like I said, it makes some sense, but not a whole lot of sense in reality. There's no real good reason to do it. This isn't a team on the brink of winning the Cup in the next two years.

Why lose Mantha?

Then there's Mantha. Is Detroit really in a position to trade away one of the team's top offensive threats? If the Red Wings are going to send away a 20-goal scorer (perhaps 30 if he's healthy) they better be getting some offense in return, not just a defenseman who scored 5 goals this past season on a Buffalo team that struggled terribly on defense. If I'm Dylan Larkin, I am immediately against this for that simple fact alone.

As I've written before: Goals cost money in this league, and Mantha is relatively cheap right now (he's an RFA at the end of this season). I don't see any point in dishing him away at this time. If Filip Zadina comes in and scores 40 goals this year, then OK, let's talk about trading Mantha. But not at this moment.

So, I am against this trade unless it includes, say, Sam Reinhart. And it probably wouldn't.


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