I always liked the Detroit Red Wings pick of Anthony Mantha. Billed as a player they could build around, he seemed like the next generation of draft picks who would become another pillar for the organization.
The hulking sniper was tearing up Quebec Juniors and it was, at the time, exciting to think that he could potentially be complimenting Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
It never really happened.
Datsyuk retired before Mantha was a full time player in Detroit and Zetterberg retired after a couple seasons with Mantha in the lineup. But looming over Mantha was always this sense of doubt that he just wasn’t the player he could be. Going back to Jimmy Devallano’s comments or in the recent season with head coach Jeff Blashill’s healthy scratch, it never seemed that Mantha would become the player that satisfied the front office–or even many in the fanbase.
Fans wanted him to be a cornerstone. The majority rooted for him and were quick to defend him when Mantha was dogged by management.
But it wasn’t meant to be. And now, the potential everyone looked for has a chance to be met in the nation’s capital after Mantha was traded to Washington.
Mantha never reached the status the Red Wings wanted
The word used by pundits, coaches, fans, and even managers that often described Mantha’s play in Detroit often went like this: Inconsistent
Jimmy Devellano spoke about how Mantha’s compete level was a disappointment and this was before he’d even skated a shift in Detroit. As time wore on, so too did the lack of faith from Detroit management. Yzerman has shown that no one–outside of Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond, or Moritz Seider, is safe. It had been reported as such many times during the last month and Monday’s deal was more evidence of this.
This season alone felt like a microcosm of the problem–Mantha not “churning his legs” enough on plays. Not scoring the buckets worth of goals expected. Being a healthy scratch while the team struggled due to a lack of engagement. As the season wore on, and trade rumors continued to swirl about him, it started to make even the biggest Mantha fan wonder if something was coming. TSN’s Darren Dreger said it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Detroit started exploring a trade.
Mantha was polarizing but also beloved by many in the fan base
I acknowledged the argument on the other side but always stuck to the belief that the goals would come consistently at some point. He’s too talented to not score at a high clip. And as of this writing, he has a goal and an assist in his first game with the Capitals. Perhaps the change of scenery will unlock the remaining potential Mantha possesses.
It just wasn’t meant to be in Detroit. Maybe the losing was too much–Mantha never played on a playoff team. Perhaps it was the insistence on a 200 foot game–maybe he’s just a guy who needs to concentrate more on his offense Was it all of the above?
Yzerman moved on, stole the spotlight on Deadline day, and absolutely put a new wrinkle into the rebuild.
All the best Anthony. I wish him nothing but success in Washington, and hope he shows that consistent goal scoring (just not against Detroit) he never really reached in Hockeytown.