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Mantha thinks he can make the Red Wings in 2014-15

Jul 14, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

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The Detroit Red Wings are known for allowing prospects plenty of time to “marinate,” but then again, they’re not known for bowing out of the first round of playoffs in five games. Maybe that’s why Anthony Mantha thinks he’ll make the team in 2014-15.

Then again, the 20th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft isn’t short for swagger, at least judging by his comments toward MLive.com.

“If you ask me, I think I am” (ready to make the team).

“The skill level is there. I’m a tall, big guy. I think I can play there but obviously I need to be ready next year.”

Yup, that sounds like a confident 19-year-old. Then again, he scored exactly a goal-per game (57 in 57) and a whopping 120 points in the QMJHL last season, so you can understand the swagger.

From the sound of comments from GM Ken Holland, the bar will be set higher than “being good enough to play in the NHL.” Holland wants him to be a top-six forward or he’ll probably be headed to Grand Rapids.

If Holland’s prognosis is correct, preseason games will feel a lot like playoff games for Mantha.

“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” Holland said. “We have eight exhibition games. I know we want him to play 5-6. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.

“If that’s not the case, he goes to Grand Rapids and we’ll go through the development process and develop him into that guy.”

Sure, Mantha could pass that exhibition test and still be sent down to the AHL before the Red Wings burn a year of his entry-level deal, but at least it makes the preseason slightly more interesting for Red Wings fans, right?

  1. pjblake2redwings - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    I would loooove if Mantha makes it and also Tatar and jurco play all season but who knows because of Clearys bum @ss taking up space.

    • clefty1 - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      It is tough to jump from juniors to the NHL, not many do it. Mantha is the most talked about rookie the Wings have had in a long time and with his junior numbers you can see why, he will probably end up playing in GR but if he performs well there I am sure he will be called up with injuries that will occur.

    • clefty1 - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      With Holland losing his mind and resigning Cleary, Jurco is most likely headed to GR seeing as he is about the only Wing that can be sent down without having to clear waivers..

      • rbbbaron - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        in the case that your GM makes some awful signings, having those players go through waivers and be claimed by a bigger idiot offers about the only hope of redemption…

  2. holographicribs - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    God, I hope so. This guy is a goal scoring machine.

  3. rbbbaron - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    “I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,”

    Maybe I’m reading a little too deep into it, but by the way this is phrased it sounds like Datsyuk and Zetterberg are expected to be separated (i.e. they’re not counting on Weiss as their 2nd line center)

    • langforc - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      I don’t read it like that and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sheahan as the 2C. So maybe they aren’t counting on Weis to be the second line center even though he is paid as such.

      • rbbbaron - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        If Holland were confident about Datsyuk and Zetterberg playing together (other than just on the PP), you’d think he would’ve phrased it as such: “Datsyuk AND Zetterberg”. The whole point of signing Weiss was to allow them to play together on the top scoring line.
        Where Sheahan (and Helm) end up is related but otherwise beside the point I’m getting at.

    • cotts1 - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      They should split up Pav and Z. It makes no sense to have two of the best 2-way centers in the NHL playing on the same line. They make everyone else better….except Abdelakder who would be helpless playing with Gretzky….

      Franzen-Datsyuk-Mantha
      Jurco-Zetterberg-Nyquist
      Weiss-Sheahan-Tatar
      Abdelkader-Helm-Glendening
      Miller
      Cleary

      Kronwall-Ericsson
      DeKeyser-Smith
      Quincey-Kindl
      Lashoff

      • rbbbaron - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM

        I’m not trying to speak to what I think they should do with Dats and Z, rather I’m trying to infer what Babcock and/or Holland are foreseeing going into next season. This time last year, Weiss was projected to be 2C so that the big two could play together…I find the mismatch between this season’s projections and last season’s interesting.

        But given your listing of possible line combinations, and in the context of the Weiss signing (and Legwand trade!), I’m bothered by how many natural or converted centers we’ve got.

      • hockeydon10 - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        @rbbbaron

        Good point about the center/converted centers. I think that’s eight on the list cotts1 put together that are centers or converted centers: Datsyuk, Franzen, Zetterberg, Weiss, Sheahan, Abdelkader, Helm, Glendening.

      • rbbbaron - Jul 14, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        Nyquist is also a natural center. Andersson is missing from his list. He’s old news, but last season you would’ve had Emmerton in the system as well…

  4. tmoore4075 - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Mantha will have to crack the top 6 to make the team. Cleary isn’t stopping him from making the team. I don’t like the Cleary signing, at least at that price, but he’s not stopping Mantha. Cleary will be your 12th-14th forward, and Mantha isn’t worth the roster spot down there. Play 6 minutes or sit in the pressbox or get 1st line minutes in the AHL. Let him play in Grand Rapids.

    • pwshrugged - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Exactly this. Well said.

  5. 4everwingsfan - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Either way, it’s good to see this kind of player in their system.

  6. pwshrugged - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    Lots of guys blitz the QMJHL. Mantha sounds legit, but frankly, that’s not exactly a high-water mark achievement. He’d have to have an absolutely stunning preseason, and even then, it seems well within the Red Wings;’ modus operandi to send him to Grand Rapids to start the season and see how he does against AHL competition for a full season. Far more likely that we’ll see him in ’15-16 sometime.

    But you gotta like the enthusiasm.

  7. redwingsfan101 - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    As much as I would love jurco to play I think miller will be playing before him. Not on the second line but definitely in because of how good his penalty killing is.

  8. adamal17 - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    It is very…very unfortunate that we re signed Cleary; mainly because of the thought of having Mantha somehow make the big squad. Unless there’s a trade for a D man the Wings will be giving up on Anderson for nothing; that’s a fact. With Alfie being re signed at some point next month (Reported by the FreeP here in Michigan…We won’t let him retire) the Wings will have 15 forwards under contact with 14 of them on one way deals. After Danny D gets his deal inked this summer we’ll have seven D men; that’s one player left out. Unless there’s a trade it won’t make sense to bring Mantha up…and that’s a shame. The Cleary deal is just looking worse and worse; most likely because it will mean that we’re going to end up trading a kid that hasn’t been given a fair shake; unlike Cleary. The Wings bent over backwards for him and they’re not returning the favor to someone (Anderson) who has a bit more of an upside than Cleary. Mantha is destined to spend most of the year in GR; that’s just how it needs to be to assure he’s overripe for next year (hopefully); but potentially letting a 25 year old who has one year left until RFA status is ridiculous…but he makes the most sense.

    • rbbbaron - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      Oh man, that’s gonna be too complicated/unsavory for the Holland apologists here.

      • adamal17 - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:45 PM

        Either way Holland is sort of screwed. If he trades a for a RH D man he will pay dearly since everyone knows he’s over a barrel. Which means say bye-bye to either Jurco or Tatar and probably Kindl or E. If he doesn’t do anything he will have to subject someone that shouldn’t be put on waivers to be taken. Most teams now leave space to bring up and send down at least one player through the year; Wings are simply screwed in that category this year though. Still a playoff team though. barring an injury rattled season again that is.

  9. hosewater2 - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Yes you’re tall and big, but let’s talk about your skating.

    • adamal17 - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:41 PM

      His skating is well above average. It’s not at the level of Datsyuk or Helm but comparable to the speed and hockey IQ of what Riley Sheahan or Franzen are…but a little faster than Franzen. What he’s trying to say is that most players are expected to “get bigger” before they crack the NHL from the WHL since it’s an inferior league to even the AHL in terms of size and skill. So his skating is even still fine…but the speed of the game and how much better the D-men are will be a kick in the @ss. He won’t be putting up over 2 points a game…but he’ll be just fine in the AHL and hopefully the NHL at some point this season.

  10. jl9830 - Jul 14, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    To correct your last statement, a year comes off his entry level contract either way- NHL or AHL. Only Juniors would not take up a year of that contract.

    • adamal17 - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:09 PM

      He didn’t get that wrong at all…He said he would “burn a year of his entry level contract” which means that a year will go off and the Wings (The NHL team) would lose out on a year of Mantha at a little less than 900k. Which is a bargain for anyone with his talent…but still has to develop.

    • storminator16 - Jul 16, 2014 at 7:20 AM

      jl9830 is correct: either the author of the article wrote that wrong or he has a misunderstanding of two-way contracts.

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