Things haven’t gone as planned for Anthony Mantha.
After breaking out with a 24 goal campaign last season, Mantha signed a two-year bridge deal, betting on himself to take his game to the next level in hopes of getting a bigger paycheck when he is due for an extension. Nine games into the 2018-19 season, he has only amassed three points (one goal and two assists) which in short, is not good enough.
The Red Wings offensive output has been putrid to start the year, particularly at five-on-five. As a whole they rank dead-last in goals-for percentage at five-on-five (per naturalstattrick.com). It’s no surprise they are struggling to score, but Mantha was expected to balance that out. Some extra production wouldn’t turn Detroit into a playoff contender, but maybe they would be sitting here with more than one win.
Mantha is fourth on the team in shots with twenty, but watch over some of the games and he looks disinterested and not playing to what he is capable of. His lackluster start prompted Jeff Blashill to drop him to the fourth line with no power-play time, averaging a little over twelve minutes over the last three games.
This is a different story than it was two years ago. During Mantha’s rookie season, he battled inconsistency and found himself on the fourth line and the press box a few times. Blashill took heat for it and it was justified. When you’re dealing with a player trying to find his place in the league, benching them only hurts their confidence, and it’s just overall a questionable development strategy. This time around, Mantha is an established player in the league. The excuses of “I haven’t been battling as hard as I wanted” just won’t fly anymore.
He is at a point where he needs to be held accountable. Given the opportunity on the top line to start the season, his role was much larger than some of the other players who fans have been disgruntled with. That’s the difference.
Looking at his peers, the performance gap has been staggering this season. Dylan Larkin is growing into the next captain of the Red Wings. Andreas Athanasiou has been electrifying and taking a step forward, rather than back. At twenty-four years old, Mantha is drawing out more questions than answers.
Now obviously it is still early. The offensive potential is there but its all about effort. More plays like this are gladly welcomed:
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) October 23, 2018
Get those long legs moving and make some plays!
As for now, It just isn’t good enough.