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Detroit Red Wings Player Grades: Anthony Mantha

In a world of darkness, Anthony Mantha was a shining light for the Detroit Red Wings in 2016-17

2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic - Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Player Profile:

Born: 9/16/94, Longueuil, QC
Height/Weight: 6’5” / 221 lbs.
Position: Right Wing
Contract: Signed through 2017-18, $863,333 AAV

Player Stats:

GP: 60
Goals: 17
Assists: 19
ATOI: 15:54

Season Narrative:

Anthony Mantha was one of the few bright spots in a mostly otherwise dismal and disappointing year for fans of the Detroit Red Wings in 2016-17. When Anthony wasn’t grounded or placed on double secret probation by Red Wings’ coach Jeff Blashill, fans were able to more regularly witness Mantha’s slick goal scoring skills that he had been so well known for in his junior days in the QMJHL.

Unfortunately for Mantha and Detroit fans alike, his season was abruptly ended in late March after suffering a fractured finger in a fight with Luke Witkowski of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Anthony’s injury was one of, if not THE final, nail in the coffin for the Red Wings’ 2016-17 season in regards to having something to look forward to watching.

What He Did Vs. Expectations:

Appearing in his most NHL regular-season games to date (60), Mantha was able to accomplish quite a lot while simultaneously meeting many expectations, at least from a fan’s perspective. As a matter of fact, Anthony ranked fairly high among some of the NHL’s best rookies in many statistical categories. Based on a model of rookie forwards who played in at least 60 regular-season games, here’s how Mantha ranked:

  • 11th in goals (17)
  • 10th in assists (19)
  • 10th in points (36)
  • 6th in points per game (0.60)

Many of Mantha’s 17 goals scored in 2016-17 were beautiful prototypical goal-scorer goals that came when the Red Wings desperately needed an equalizer or a game-winner. Here’s a great example:

Who doesn’t love watching the Red Wings making Montreal look silly? Something Mantha seems to already have a proclivity towards in his young career.

And who could forget Anthony’s game-tying goal to beat the buzzer at the NHL’s Centennial Classic Game against the Toronto Maple Leafs that turned the entire Red Wings’ bench into “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair:

Mantha’s three GWG this season were good enough for second best on the Red Wings, tied with another young player who often found himself in Jeff Blashill’s doghouse, Andreas Athanasiou.

Speaking of Blashill’s doghouse, Mantha found himself being reprimanded several times throughout the season by his coach. In all fairness to Blashill, some of his criticism and benching of Mantha could be justified. At times Anthony didn’t demonstrate the characteristics of a two-way forward that the organization hopes he can become. On the other hand, you don’t teach someone how to be a better musician by not letting them play their instrument. Perhaps I’m fruitlessly trying to compare apples and oranges here.

But let’s be honest, one of the main reasons the Red Wings drafted Anthony Mantha is because he is and has always been a goal scorer. I understand the coaching and developmental theory behind reducing a player’s ice-time to break and minimize so-call bad habits, but when you risk shaking a young sniper’s confidence and willingness to pull the trigger, I have a problem. It became even more frustrating when players like Riley Sheahan continued to see increased TOI over players like Mantha and Athanasiou.

Final Grade: A-

Anthony Mantha has been one of the Detroit Red Wings’ most hyped prospects in recent memory and we were all fortunate enough to get a decent glimpse of what he will be able to accomplish at the NHL level heading into the future.

He wasn’t the complete 200 foot/two-way player his coach may have wanted him to be at times in 2016-17, but Mantha proved he can be the exciting goal scorer that fans had hoped for. With a little more experience and seasoning, Anthony Mantha will develop into a player that the Detroit Red Wings will rely on for many years to come.

Up next we take a look at Andreas Athanasiou.


What grade should Anthony Mantha receive?

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