It was another traditional draft for the Red Wings. They took a guy in the first round you’ve never seen play a game.
Anthony Mantha is 6-foot-4 and nearly 200 pounds. He put up 89 points, including 50 goals, in 67 games for a team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League whose name and nickname no one can pronounce.
The internet consensus among anonymous scouts and other various people in the know is that Mantha is big, can skate well, has a good shot and scores a lot. The problems are he disappears for stretches, needs to get stronger, and needs to play more physical. If that sounds familiar, it’s because every forward over 6-foot-2 who is drafted in the first-round gets the same evaluation.
Not particularly satisfied with these probably accurate scouting reports, I used my crack investigative skills and went to YouTube to hatch my own. The first video:
A fifteen-second Tim Horton’s ad. Strong start. The rest of the 2:33 is just an advertisement for Mantha’s extreme French Canadian-ness. This is a good trait. Many of the NHL’s best players are Canadians.
Video No. 2:
The breakdown: One minute, twenty-one seconds. Twenty-eight seconds of him celebrating, most of which is with what appears to be his signature drag-the-hand-along the ice move. It’s a common move in the game nowadays, but it’s still enjoyable. Mantha goes hard on the drag but doesn’t extend it too long and always finds his teammates after. All veteran moves. I see some real potential.
Thirty-eight seconds of him finishing nice setups from his teammates and 15 seconds of him making a nice play to delay and give a drop pass to his teammate, then use his speed to work around a defenseman, get the puck back and go forehand-backhand on the goalie, plus replay. We saw a glimpse of the speed, but eighty one seconds isn’t enough. We need more to make our completely uninformed opinions of a guy the Red Wings aren’t likely to put on their roster for at least three years.
Video No. 3:
Holy mother of sweet infant baby Jesus. We found El Dorado. Complete with French announcing.
0:00 – 0:06 So there’s that shot everybody keeps talking about. The power play one-timer from the point that finds its way through bodies and into the net is a nice weapon to have.
0:07 MANTHA LE VIEEEEEE!
0:08-0:10 He strays away from dragging his hand on the ice, instead going with a kind of one-knee-in-the-air double salute. It was unorthodox and kind of awkward, but surprisingly effective.
0:29-0:33 So he’s pretty fast too. It took him two strides to get going full speed and not many more to cover the whole neutral zone, poke it away from the defensive man and score.
0:50 – o:53 So there’s that shot everybody keeps talking about.
0:59 He’s got mountains of swagger in pulling the elbow pad up the arm after scoring. That move may look innocent, but it’s actually one part of necessary adjustment, three parts straight swag.
1:30 Pretty sure the announcer just sneezed. There is no way those were actual words.
1:42 – 1:46 Hey 79, get out of the effing way. This isn’t your half-hour special.
2:05 SIGUVLEGUEVU! Nice dangle and dish from half-pint.
3:00 SIGUVLEGUEVU! What the hell are those things? I know what hats look like. Those aren’t hats. Teddy Bears maybe? Who doesn’t love a good Teddy Bear toss? Fans get to feel like rebels by throwing things on the ice, and kids in the hospital get Teddy Bears. Plus, it’s fun to watch 1.) The a-holes try to hit the players and/or guys who are out to clean up the Teddy Bears, and 2.) The players who can’t help themselves start smacking the Teddy Bears around. I’m Team Teddy Bear Toss. It should expand to the NHL level.
What’s that? There’s still 21 minutes of Anthony Mantha video left? Moving on….
3:45 MANTHA LE VIEEEEEE! French is fun.
4:32 He’s got a legitimate cannon on the power play, but I’m not sure he’s going to be able to stand inside the top of the circles and let a slap shot go unmolested in the NHL, even on a five-on-three power play.
4:47 – 4:50 Who let that… thing… on to the ice?
4:51 – 6:00 I’m disappointed in the lack of elbow pad adjustment after these recent goals. Maybe he doesn’t have quite the same swag as we thought.
6:00 – 6:11 Damn. He’s fast.
6:53 The announcer just had a stroke.
6:56 Three parts swag.
7:41 How the hell is his team getting all these five-on-threes? Is there some QMJHL rule I’m not aware of?
8:08 That’s Mantha’s third game-winning goal. Not bad for eight minutes of work.
8:56 THERE ARE STILL 15 MINUTES LEFT
9:03 – 9:08 That would have been a nice goal if that defenseman didn’t look like he was in the Swiss League playing against Damien Brunner. We know who didn’t get drafted this year.
9:30 – 9:43 Ha. Look at Caron getting reamed by his coach. What an embarrassment to his club that I’ve never heard of that’s winning the game by three goals.
9:50 What the hell is the ref wearing? It looks a knockoff 1980 Canucks jersey. The QMJHL is a strange, strange place.
10:16 Power play strategy: 1.) Pass the puck to Mantha. 2.) Did he score? 3.) If no, get puck. If yes, hug Mantha. 4.) Repeat steps one through three.
12:00 Dear Diary, Made it to the halfway mark. Air getting thin. Food running out. Will try for summit tomorrow.
13:44 Three parts swag.
14:00 – 14:06 Let’s face it. At this point you’ve stopped watching the video. You’re just skimming through these time stamps. Go watch these six seconds. This team I can’t pronounce comes about as close to a two-man flying V as you’re going to see before Mantha decides to literally skate around the entire opposing team and score. If there’s one play that shows why Mantha is a first-round pick. This is it.
14:40 So it turns out the hand drag on the ice isn’t his signature move. Most of his goals result in what barely pass for celebrations. Still, the finesse he uses on the hand drag here is exquisite.
16:49 Nice camera work.
17:21 – 17:32 It’s not a highlight reel until you include an empty-net goal from outside the blue line.
17:41 Anthony, where are you going? You’re bench is the other way dude. Weaknesses: sense of direction.
17:43 What is this English? I’ll take my ‘SIGUVLEGUEVU!’s with an extra helping Man-TA, thank you very much.
19:48 Old Dutch. “Qualtiy Lives Here”. You better believe it.
20:04-20:15 Yeah, still fast. He just took the puck in his own zone then skated past everybody on the ice, including that poor sap of a defenseman to score, and it looked like he wasn’t even trying. Mark it down. This is the point where I’ve officially talked myself into Mantha becoming the next Vincent Lecavalier. Despite him not being eligible for the James Mungro Memorial Award sponsored by (sponsor still pending, maybe Old Dutch will want in), I’m not only driving the Anthony Mantha bandwagon, I’m building it.
20:27 Did the announcer just say rim job?
20:31 – 20:44 Lean on the stick but pull it up before shooting, then go to the backhand to slide it past the goalie? That move was pretty lubricious.
21:32 A lot of air time for Old Dutch in this highlight reel. That instant replay sponsorship is paying dividends.
23:40 Glad we got one last EH BOOO! in from the French announcers.
23:56 It just ends? There are no easter eggs? No thanks for watching 24 freaking minutes? Not even a 15-second Tim Hortons ad? I expected more of you Anthony Mantha goal compilation.
So…..what have we learned?
- Mantha is very French Canadian.
- Those scouts, the ones that get paid to evaluate players and know what they’re talking about, they’re basically right. That was 24 minutes of Mantha skating around people, picking his spot and putting the puck there. Both the slap shot and and wrist shot are overpowering.
- The celebrations could use some work. Neither sliding his hand on the ice nor the swag-invested adjustment of the elbow pad move was used enough. At times it looked like he was tired of scoring goals, like he wanted to put that burden on somebody else. When you score 50 goals in 67 games, that tends to happen.
- Those claims that he disappears at times? I didn’t see it. He scored about 857 goals in a span of 24 minutes. What more do you want from him? And don’t talk about his defensive play either. From what I saw, his team never played more than a few minutes in its defensive zone the entire season, and when it did it had strong possession of the puck and made great outlet passes to Mantha.
- Quality lives at Old Dutch.