Ah-hah! You thought this would be a full throttle edition of Scouting the Enemy. Well, it is. But, with the Grand Rapids Griffins rolling in with one of the better prospects in hockey coming to town, I feel it necessary to do a spotlight.
Anthony Mantha was selected by the Detroit Red Wings with the twentieth overall selection in the 2013 NHL Draft. At the age of 20-years old this is his first season of professional hockey after a junior playing career that saw him record 260 points (129 goals, 131 assists) in 189 games with Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL. He missed the start to this season after fracturing a tibia in mid-September.
It was on 11/14/14 that Mantha made his pro-debut in a game that finished in a 3-2 home win for the Griffins over the Texas Stars. He has now played in 8 games with the Griffins this season and has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) – including a goal and an assist in last night’s Griffins 4-0 road shutout of the Rockford IceHogs.
If Teemu Pulkkinen wasn’t scary enough to deal with on the ice the addition of Mantha should be. They both possess similar high powered offensive qualities: deep shots, speed, strength, and a willingness to play contributor as well as sniper. To link those two up would mean rough times are in-store for the Midwest Division.
Since the debut of Mantha the Grand Rapids Griffins have gone 6-3-1-0 (13 points) in 10 games. Their overall record is 10-9-2-0 (22 points) and they sit behind the Admirals in the Midwest Division in fourth place. In Grand Rapids terms, their start to the season has been pretty lackluster. They’ve been playing some of their best hockey since the debut of Mantha and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. The better he gets as he acclimatizes to the pro-game – the better the Griffins will be in the AHL this season.
I think of him as the Red Wings version of Filip Forsberg a season ago. Mantha will probably spend the majority of his first pro-season at the AHL level as he gets over the speed bumps and gets a firm grasp of all elements, penalty kill included, that the AHL can provide him that wouldn’t otherwise be available to him in Detroit. We’re seeing him fresh this afternoon. He’ll be a whole different animal when we see them for the last time in the regular season on 4/8/15.
What will happen in today’s game? Which Admirals team will we be getting today: the early season winning streak version or the up-down-and-around losing streak version? Scoreline prediction?