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Top 25 Under 25: Anthony Mantha Checks in at #2

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Mantha looks to build on his strong finish to 2018

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Position: RW

Height/Weight: 6’5” / 225 lbs

Shoots: Left

Birthday: September 16, 1994 (24 years old)

Birthplace: Longueuil, Quebec, Canada

Draft: 2013 1st Round (20th overall)

Last Year: #2

Stats

What Do We Like?

Anthony Mantha brings an element of size and scoring ability that is unparalleled on this Detroit Red Wings roster. For his stature, he is a strong, powerful skater and fits the bill of your prototypical “power forward” — a lot like Todd Bertuzzi was in his earlier days with the Vancouver Canucks. He has the ability to control the puck while managing to fend off opposing defenders in the offensive zone as he drives towards the net to create a positive scoring chance.

He finished the 2018-19 season strongly, tallying eight goals for 15 points in the final eight games. A lot of this can be attributed to the chemistry he developed on the top line with Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin. Jeff Blashill ultimately found a top line that clicked together and Mantha definitely reaped the benefits.

Entering the 2019-20 season, Mantha seems primed for a breakout on the heels of a fantastic performance at the IIHF World Championship in May, where he put up 14 points in nine games for Team Canada. The big, skillful forward has posted back-to-back 20-plus goal campaigns, could this be the year he reaches the 30-goal mark? It’s right there for the taking.

What Needs to Improve?

Consistency is the one word that comes to mind when talking about Mantha’s performance. The knock on the 24-year-old has always been his defensive inconsistency, finding himself out of position in his own defensive end more often than not. If he can’t tighten things up, then the high danger scoring chances for the opposition will continue to be there on a nightly basis.

Sometimes when I watch Mantha play, he reminds me of another former Red Wing player, Johan Franzen. “The Mule,” as he was so often referred to, seemed to glide around the neutral zone looking for offensive chances more often than being aggressive on the back check and helping out his teammates. This is not to say that Franzen didn’t have a great impact on the team when healthy, but this type of high risk, high reward play can be frustrating at times and should be something Mantha steers clear of.

Mantha has worked on using his size to continue to create space and if he adds some more grit to his game, then he will be a handful night in and night out for opposing defenders.

Expectations for this Season?

Mantha has certainly been better in the defensive zone from where he was a few years ago in his first full season in Detroit. That, paired with his offensive prowess, will make him more impactful in the WIngs’ lineup.

He definitely has elite goal-scoring potential and with his strong performance at the IIHF World Championship this past summer, the confidence level should be sky high. The Wings are not at the point of there rebuild were we should be considering them playoff contenders once again, but having the opportunity to watch the Bertuzzi-Larkin-Mantha line in person late last season, leaves reason for optimism that the team will be better than oddsmakers think this year.

It’s a contract year for Mantha and he will be looking for a raise off that $3.3M AAV that Ken Holland gave him in his last bridge deal. If he can reach the 30-goal plateau, it will likely force Steve Yzerman’s hand to get the big man paid and I believe that locking up that top line will be integral to the team’s future success.