Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2013 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2013 Draft Articles Click here.
Edit: Drafted 20th Overall by the Detroit Red Wings.
Anthony Mantha has NHL bloodlines, but they aren’t readily apparent from his name. He is not related to former NHLers Sylvio Mantha, or Moe Mantha, but is instead the grandson of Andre Pronovost, who won 4 Stanley Cups in the 1950’s with the Montreal Canadiens. He is also the grand-nephew of Jean Pronovost, who had a long career with Pittsburgh, Atlanta (Flames), and Washington and Claude Pronovost who was a journeyman goalie in the minor leagues, and played 2 games for the Canadiens. Hockey, and winning, is quite literally in Mantha’s DNA.
Playing for Val D’Or this season, Mantha led the QMJHL in goals with 50 in just 67 games. His 89 points were enough to put him in tenth spot in the Q scoring race. Mantha also put up 5 goals and 12 points in 9 playoff games. His contributions helped the Foreurs to a first round upset of the P.E.I. Rocket.
With a late 1994 birth date, Mantha is one of the oldest players in the draft, born just one day too late to be a 2012 NHL Draft eligible player. That extra day has served him well as he would have been ranked towards the bottom of the 2012 draft (if ranked at all), but now Mantha looks like he could be a first round pick after his impressive season. The late birthdate also means that Mantha is ineligible for the IIHF U18 World Championships taking place in Russia right now, but he did play for Team Canada last year, and won a bronze medal.
Born Sep 16 1994 — Longueuil, PQ
Height 6.04 — Weight 200 — Shoots Left
February Rank 12
At 6’4″ Mantha has really impressive size, and that will be valued by all NHL teams on draft day. What is really intriguing though is that Mantha couples that impressive size, with great offensive skills. He’s not just a player who scores in junior hockey because he is physically bigger and stronger than his fellow teenagers, but instead has skill to pair with that impressive physique. Mantha has a great wrist shot. It is heavy and accurate, and is paired with a tremendously quick release which fools goalies and helps him to put the puck in the back of the net. Mantha gets involved physically and digs hard along the boards and fights for his space in front of the net, where he can cause havoc for goalies. I’d like to see more big hits and a bit of a mean streak out of him going forward. He will also need a bit more bulk on his frame to continue to play this power forward game at the next level. While Mantha is more a goal scorer than a playmaker, his vision and passing skills are good.
Mantha is also an outstanding skater for his size. He has very good top-end speed, and great acceleration, which allows him to drive wide on defenders and take the puck to the net. As defenders need to back off and defend his speed game, he also has the ability to pull up and let go that tremendous wrister off the rush. He couples his size with good balance which makes him a force on the boards, and helps him to fight through checks and create offense.
Defensively, Mantha’s game is inconsistent. I have seen him be an effective backchecker in his own end of the ice, but I’ve also seen games where he doesn’t get involved enough defensively. He will need to be more consistent in that area of his game and get rid of his bad habit to puck-watch at times. When he does put in the intensity, he’s an effective backchecker, who plays his man and keeps him to the outside of the rink. He takes the body and wins his battles on the boards, and helps out with back pressure. He’s even been known to drop the gloves on occassion, but should not be thought of as a fighter.
Mantha’s style reminds us of a slightly more physical Max Pacioretty. He has the size, skating, and tremendous wrister, which he can combine with a power forward style of game. In terms of potential, Mantha could develop into a first line scoring winger who can be very effective. This is a real ‘boom or bust’ pick, as the effort level can sometimes be scary as are questions about whether he was a one year wonder due to the late birthday. However the raw potential here is also gigantic, and if he develops, he can be something every team craves, the first line Power Forward. For that reason, we rank Mantha very highly, and look forward to seeing his development going forward.
Check back tomorrow for our number 15 prospect.
Thanks for reading, as always feel free to leave comments below and follow me on twitter @lastwordBKerr. Give the rest of the hockey department a follow while you’re at it – @BigMick99, @IswearGAA, and @LastWordOnNHL, and follow the site @lastwordonsport.
Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports? If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.