The Detroit Red Wings are known for allowing prospects plenty of time to “marinate,” but then again, they’re not known for bowing out of the first round of playoffs in five games. Maybe that’s why Anthony Mantha thinks he’ll make the team in 2014-15.
Then again, the 20th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft isn’t short for swagger, at least judging by his comments toward MLive.com.
“If you ask me, I think I am” (ready to make the team).
“The skill level is there. I’m a tall, big guy. I think I can play there but obviously I need to be ready next year.”
Yup, that sounds like a confident 19-year-old. Then again, he scored exactly a goal-per game (57 in 57) and a whopping 120 points in the QMJHL last season, so you can understand the swagger.
From the sound of comments from GM Ken Holland, the bar will be set higher than “being good enough to play in the NHL.” Holland wants him to be a top-six forward or he’ll probably be headed to Grand Rapids.
If Holland’s prognosis is correct, preseason games will feel a lot like playoff games for Mantha.
“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” Holland said. “We have eight exhibition games. I know we want him to play 5-6. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.
“If that’s not the case, he goes to Grand Rapids and we’ll go through the development process and develop him into that guy.”
Sure, Mantha could pass that exhibition test and still be sent down to the AHL before the Red Wings burn a year of his entry-level deal, but at least it makes the preseason slightly more interesting for Red Wings fans, right?