Anthony Mantha was born just one day after the cut off for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft - and he couldn't be happier about it. When he was 17, he scored just three goals in the first half of the season, and then something clicked. In the second half of 2011-2012, he scored 40 points and 89 points last season. This upswing couldn't have happened at a better time - it helped get him ranked as the tenth best North American skater in the upcoming NHL Draft. As a right wing, it looks like Mantha could fill a hole in the New Jersey roster. Here is an in-depth look at what Anthony Mantha has to offer.
Who is Anthony Mantha?
Mantha has played for Val d'Or in the QMJHL for the past two seasons and really found his game during his time there. As noted above, his stats skyrocketed after a rough first half of the 2011-2012 season. In the 2012-2013 season, Mantha played in 67 games scoring 50 goals and adding 39 assists - that upped his total from the previous season by 38 points. He was also successful the 2013 playoffs, getting twelve points in just nine games.
The 6'4", 190 lbs forward not only has size to his advantage, but a lot of skill that shows he has potential at the next level. He is often compared to Sean Couturier who went eighth overall and went straight to the NHL, but Mantha likes to watch Jordan Staal. One fault he hopes to improve in his game is protecting the puck along the boards by using his size and build to his benefit.
Mantha's grandfather, André Pronovost won the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens from 1957-1960, is credited with getting Anthony interested in hockey. Mantha says,
"He taught me how to skate, how to play hockey, how to have fun. He had a huge impact on me. He helped me all the way up, even now, he gives me tips on what to do on the ice."
Mantha has a gritty style to his game, and he isn't afraid to head to the dirty areas around the net. With that style, he led the QMJHL in goals and was tenth overall in points. He doesn't just depend on his size, though. Mantha has an impressive wrist shot and quick release. He is more of a goal scorer than a playmaker, and seems to be headed towards the power forward role. It was difficult to see where his game was going just one year ago. It's amazing what the extra year did for him in his growth and value.
What Experts are saying about Anthony Mantha:
While the initial outlook on Mantha seems great, it is worth noting that he had an extremely tough time in the QMJHL Top Prospects Game. Ryan English of The Scouting Report wrote,
"Had a really tough game. He said in his TSR interview in November he needed to work on his work ethic game in and game out, and he had an off game without a doubt. Did not land a hit or a shot to my recollection, and outside of a few nice passes, showed no flashes of his shot or hands. Will be tough to overcome come draft day after a showing like that on a big stage in front of hundreds of scouts."
That is not the best game to have a bad showing in, but his season with Val d'Or was impressive enough to keep his ranking high.
Here is another quote from a piece written by The Scouting Report,
"Some things Mantha needs to work on are his compete level without the puck, which is an issue on the backcheck and his physicality. When a player with a big strong frame like Mantha doesn't use his size on the boards consistently it raises a red flag.
However, Mantha has been one of the dark horses leading the scoring race this year in the QMJHL, very few followers could have predicted his name at #5 in QMJHL scoring (tied for goal scoring lead) 25 games in. Mantha has gone from a disappointing 3 goal scorer through his first half of last season to scoring goals at a frantic pace, with 64 points (35-29) in his last 36 games played, split between the end of last year and the start of this year."
Finally, Brendan Ross of The Hockey Writers wrote,
"Mantha is an emerging raw prospect with fantastic scoring abilities...smooth skater with quick feet...owns great pro-size that complements his opportunistic scoring style well...has a knack for sneaking into scoring areas and pounces quickly on loose pucks...uses his quick release to fool defenders often faking a shot and opting to pass to an open teammate...needs to play with a consistent work ethic as he occasionally floats while waiting for the puck to come to him...could improve his physical game...promising power forward prospect with a scoring touch."
Anthony Mantha in action:
Here is a video showing some of Mantha's skill. It highlights a hat trick from late in the 2012-2013 season.
#8 Anthony Mantha hat trick vs Baie-Comeau (2012-03-17) (via TVhockeyprospect)
Anthony Mantha really picked up his game last season, and while his numbers were impressive, is he a one-season-wonder? While it's possible, I think he has a great deal of potential and could be a great power forward with the right development. With that said, he wouldn't be my first choice for the Devils. I think there are better forwards available that fit the Devils' needs, and at least one should still be available by the time New Jersey is up to bat. If for some reason Mantha drops to the second round, I would love for the Devils to snatch him up there, though.
The biggest reason I would want Mantha in New Jersey is because I don't want to see the Devils have to face him. He seems to be a frustrating guy to play against. Again, if he is available in the second round, it would be great, but I would much rather see a player such as Hunter Shinkaruk or Sean Monahan selected with the number nine pick.
What are your thoughts on Mantha? Do you think the positive aspects to his game outweigh the negatives? Would you like New Jersey to draft him in the first round? If he is available, how would you feel about a second round steal? What makes you most excited his play? What worries you? Feel free to answer these questions or discuss anything about Anthony Mantha in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!