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Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha

Aug 27, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

AnthonyMantha

Ever since being selected 20th overall by Detroit at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Anthony Mantha has been focused on one goal:

Make the Red Wings.

It’s what Mantha aimed to do during his first NHL training camp last fall — but fell short, getting returned to QMHJL Val-d’Or — and it’s what he’s aiming to do again this year, albeit with more experience under his belt.

Mantha, 19, cemented himself as a dynamic goalscorer in junior hockey last year, recording his second straight 50-goal campaign by potting 57 in 57 games for the Foreurs — then continued that pace by netting another 24 in 24 playoff games.

In short, the kid can put pucks in the net.

Mantha also racked up 11 points in seven games for Canada at the World Juniors, and earned huge praise from Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer.

“He’s unique. He’s fun to watch,” Fischer said of Mantha, per NHL.com. “The bigger the games, the bigger he plays, the bigger his performance, the more he wants to win. He loves playing games.

“He knows that he’s going to get a chance [at training camp]. He’s going to get a top-six forward chance in camp and he’s excited about it.”

Making the leap will prove difficult. Several factors are working against Mantha, the first being his lack of pro hockey experience. He’s never played a day in the AHL, and for an organization like Detroit — which has consistently benefited from players maturing in the minors — a year riding buses in the “A” might be the preferred approach, developmentally speaking.

Then there’s Detroit’s slew of forwards up front. Per CapGeek, the Red Wings have 14 forwards on NHL contracts; the club is also waiting on word from veteran Daniel Alfredsson, who may or may not return this season.

It doesn’t sound like either of these factors has lessened Mantha’s desire to crack the bigs, though. In July, he re-iterated what he said last summer — it’s the NHL or bust.

“If you ask me, I think I am [ready],” Mantha said, per MLive.com. “At the end of the summer, I’ll be a few pounds heavier. I think I can play there. But as I mentioned, it’s (about) coming to camp, being ready and we’ll see.

“The skill level is there. I’m a tall, big guy. I think I can play there.”

  1. pjblake2redwings - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    I would love if he made the team this year! he will be taking over 1C when Pavel and
    Zetty leave.. need to have him in the league now instead of Cleary and Alfie

    • claymanv - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      Probably a stupid question, but you mean 1 captaincy right? As opposed to 1st center.

      • tmarchione - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        I hope so, since he’s not a Center, but a winger…

  2. withseidelinn - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Anyone know how he dropped to 20th overall? Guy has size and scored 50 goals his draft year…

    • pjblake2redwings - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      he was drafted last year.. if he was drafted this year, he would have been a top 5 pick for sure

      • withseidelinn - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        I know he was a 2012 pick, but still the one of the top goal scorers in that draft for sure. Wondering if there were any knocks on him that weren’t publicly discussed.

      • withseidelinn - Aug 27, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        2013*

    • tmarchione - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      There was questions regarding work ethic, focus, and defensive ability in his draft year. Also, while he was a scorer in the Q, scouts weren’t so sure that the way he scored goals in the Q would translate in the NHL. Some of those questions were solved this past season (especially the work ethic and some of the defensive ability questions), but he still tended to float some (not as much, but speaks to his focus). Also, he scored much more with his wrister and in the dirty areas post draft, which in his draft year, he scored a ton from a big slapshot, which you don’t get in the NHL (unless you are a DMan).

      • hockeydon10 - Aug 27, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        In addition to what you pointed out, I heard he had some injury that caused his position to fall in the pre-draft rankings.

  3. evanpht - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    I think there were concerns about his effort that made him drop a bit

    • polegojim - Aug 27, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      Seems to have overcome the criticism.

      Like to see he and Ouellet settle in.

      • timmmah10 - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        And Sproul, who looks the part but needs to keep his head in the game.

  4. tapefolie - Aug 27, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Can’t think, you have to know you can play there. Send him to the AHL til he knows he can play in the big club!

    • bruceeff - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      I’m with you. He’s only played major junior so far. Give Mantha to the Griffins for a year and gauge his progress. If, by the second half of the season, there is a forward (or forwards) on the Wings who are injured or not getting it done then Mantha can get a call-up if he’s earned it.

    • cotts1 - Aug 27, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      They’re going to find out in the preseason if he’s ready to play with the big boys. He’ll be put on a line with Pav or Z and go against the other teams top line.

      • timmmah10 - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:25 PM

        If he can get on Datsyuk’s like, look out. The Red Wings make you earn that kind of jump though, so don’t expect to see it unless injuries or poor play force their hand to bring him up. By 2015, this kid will be on the first line.

  5. i1theinternet - Aug 27, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Red Wings develop their internal talent as well as anyone. Mantha goes to the AHL this year, will get a call-up when injuries allow it. If he plays well enough, he’ll stay up.

    • polegojim - Aug 27, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      Honestly… they develop it better than anyone else.

      • timmmah10 - Aug 28, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        I understand why Pole gets the thumbs downs… because people forget that the wings haven’t had any top picks in 20 years.

        The Red Wings showed their ability to develop talent last year when their youth came through the second half of the season.

        They develop lower draft pick talent as good or better than most the league. That’s what Pole is trying to say. Now if they could just develop goalies as well as they develop forwards… (Jimmy is an average goalie, but was touted as a star coming up in the organization… never really developed into one…)

      • polegojim - Aug 28, 2014 at 5:14 PM

        AMEN… and exactly the point Tim. I have high hops for Mrazek… but we’ll see.

  6. dencar2014 - Aug 27, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Let’s see how training camp goes. He wouldn’t be the first 19 year old to play in the NHL. It must be a little frustrating to be drafted by the Wings knowing you will probably spend 3 or more years in G.R. partly because the organization is overly loyal to the likes of Cleary . It was only because of injuries that we found out that a number of players in G.R. we’re ready for prime time. While I don’t see him with the Wings to start, I hope he’s with the big club by Christmas

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