It’s been almost been a year and a half since Red Wings senior vice president Jim Devellano described 2013 first overall selection Anthony Mantha’s first AHL season as ” very, very, very disappointing.”Since those comments were made, Mantha has progressively improved and has slowly inched towards becoming a full fledged NHL regular. Mantha’s play in the AHL to start the year has been dominant and he’s knocking on the door for an opportunity with the Red Wings.
With six goals in his first five games ( including a hat trick) Mantha is off to a great start for the Grand Rapids Griffins and he is finally showing what we have known he is capable of all along.
I think it’s time for the Red Wings to give Mantha another shot.
Mantha’s last opportunity with the Red Wings was for the team’s final 10 games of the 2015-2016 season. In that 10 game stint, Mantha recorded three points in his last seven games of his call-up. The explosive power-forward showed at the end of last season that he could play at the NHL level and with his dominant start in the AHL, Mantha could be due for a promotion.
” When I see five goals in three games, when I hear he’s playing the right way- hear he’s doing right things now and he’s starting to get dominant- you want to see ( prospects) dominate the level below to make sure he’s ready to do the same thing at the level above.” head coach Jeff Blashill told the Detroit News.
Mantha may be ready for the next step at first glance, but an organization like the Red Wings that has been known to over ripen their prospects, may take their time with Mantha. But if the 22 year-old right winger continues playing the way he has been, it’ll be hard for the Red Wings to keep Mantha down in the minors.
The thing is, it’s easier said than done that the Wings could give Mantha a spot over players Drew Miler and Steve Ott. Because as we saw when Detroit put Teemu Pulkkinen on waivers, Detroit values those players quite highly. It’s also more complicated to get rid of one of those players as both are on one-way contracts and sending them down would require them to clear waivers.
It’s quite a surprise in the first place Mantha didn’t make the team out of training camp. His play in the preseason alongside Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin was more than promising. Mantha didn’t look out of place, rather he looked like he belonged with the big club. If Mantha gets another shot with the Wings this year, look out for that line to reunite and if that’s the case, that trio could be a force for the Red Wings for years to come.
In the unlikely scenario the Wings just flat out called up Mantha and demoted another player, Mantha could leapfrog Riley Sheahan and slot in to the team’s second line right wing spot if Detroit’s lineup stayed relatively intact.
But as we know, in a long 82 game season, injuries always happen. And when they do, it’s always good to know you have someone that can step right in to the lineup and not miss a beat. If an opportunity arises in virtue of an injury, you know Mantha will be ready and could potentially evolve in to an impact player if given the chance.
Mantha may warrant a call-up but in a five game sample size, its unlikely the Red Wings are going to jump the gun and bring him up.