There were not many bright spots for the Detroit Red Wings last season but Anthony Mantha was one of them. He scored 17 goals and added 19 assists last season. He only played in 60 games. He was tied for third in team goals and sixth in team points.
Mantha proved that he deserves to be in the top six and on the power play every night. He makes mistakes here and there, which is to be expected for a young player.
Don’t forget Mantha is only 22 and has appeared in 70 NHL games. He has yet to play a full season. His potential is through the roof.
Now, last season we also saw Mantha received public criticism again from head coach Jeff Blashill. He was also a healthy scratch for “not skating hard” and not “playing with intensity” along with needing to “compete harder” and he needed to “win more battles.”
These criticisms would be fine if that standard applied to every player but instead it seems only to apply to a few of the younger players and Mantha is one. Regardless he needs to put that behind and him and be ready for the next step in his development. Mantha should have taken them serious enough that is will not be an issue again.
Mantha is a player the Red Wings should let blossom this season into what we all think he will be. There is no reason that Mantha cannot challenge for the teams goal scoring leader this season. The big if with that is will Jeff Blashill have enough confidence for Mantha to play a full 82 game season like a top six forward would.
As mentioned above there were some issues from the coaching staff prospective on Mantha. He will need to show early on this season, that those issues are behind him. Being called out for not giving your all should be motivation enough for Mantha to use that experience to perform at a level where he cannot be taken out of the lineup.
He does need to take advantage of power play time and have more than one goal and four assists. This is a big area where Blashill is looking for the team to improve and Mantha is a player that can help make that happen. After all if he wants to be viewed as a top six player he must perform well here.
If so the expectation for Mantha should be north of 20 goals and 50 plus points this season.
At some point, Mantha will need to showcase himself as one of the next generation of good to great Detroit Red Wings. In a few seasons when we look back, we will point to the season and moment Mantha became a difference maker and put his mark on the team permanently. There is no reason that cannot be this season.
If the Red Wings want to make the playoffs, it will be the players like Mantha that get them there. The time is here we we should start to see Mantha begin to carry the team.