Wings’ first-rounder Mantha says it’s NHL or bust this season

8 Comments

Anthony Mantha knows he’s a longshot to make Detroit’s roster this fall.

That said, he also knows the National Hockey League is the only place he wants to be.

“For sure it is,” Mantha told MLive.com, when asked if his mentality was NHL or bust for 2013-14. “If you go around the room and ask every player, I’m not sure there’s one that will tell you that’s not their goal.”

Taken 20th overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Mantha is something of a rarity for Detroit. He’s the organization’s first top-20 pick since Jakub Kindl was taken No. 19 overall in 2005, and the first QMJHL skater the club has taken in the first round since Jiri Fischer (Hull Olympiques, 25th overall) in 1998.

At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he has good size. He’s also coming off a season in which he led the Quebec league in goals (50). Those two things are probably big reasons why he’s exuding confidence heading into his first professional training camp this September.

“I score lots of goals,” he said. “I’m a good (penalty killer) and power-play guy.”

Of course, history is not on Mantha’s side.

The Red Wings rarely rush draftees to the NHL, preferring to season them at the junior/AHL levels for a few years before making the jump. According to MLive, The last time a first-round pick played for the Red Wings the season he was drafted was 1991-92 — Martin Lapointe, taken 10th overall at the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.

Lapointe only played four games that season.