Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Detroit Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha is tearing it up in the QMJHL.
I know, it feels like we say it after every game, but the kid knows how to score.
Take Wednesday night, for instance, when Mantha led Val-d’Or to a QMHJL title, as he scored the game-winning goal with less than a minute to go after his team squandered a 3-0 lead.
During the regular season, Mantha led the league with 57 goals and 120 points in just 57 games and scored 24 goals and 38 points in 24 playoff games.
Here’s the game-winning goal complete with commentators yelling in French in case you missed it:
So herein lies the problem: We all know general manager Ken Holland loves to overrippen his players, leaving them in the AHL for as long as he can until they are ready for NHL action.
However, Mantha deserves a legitimate shot at making the Detroit Red Wings roster coming out of training camp this offseason. I’m not saying put him on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to begin the season, but he does deserve to be carefully looked at.
In an ideal world, I’m sure Holland would love to send Mantha to the Grand Rapids Griffins and let him simmer there for a year or two. However, with the salary cap and the new CBA, it just isn’t as easy to continue to foster a talented team without bringing up some of his prospects a bit earlier than he may want.
History dictates Mantha will probably spend some time in Grand Rapids. However, as recently as last year, Holland allowed a player to skip Grand Rapids and come straight to the big leagues.
Danny DeKeyser signed a two-year deal in March 2013 as soon as he graduated from Western Michigan University. Rather than send him to Grand Rapids, the Red Wings needed defensive depth, and Holland chose to keep DeKeyser on the Red Wings.
DeKeyser did end up going back to Grand Rapids after the Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs, and he was key in helping the Griffins secure the franchise’s first AHL title.
So Holland isn’t completely against letting a kid make the Red Wings before he puts in his time if Detroit needs the help. And with the Red Wings struggling to score last year, inserting Mantha into the lineup could do wonders for the team’s offensive woes, especially on the power play.
Imagine that blistering slap shot coming from the right point on possibly the second power-play unit — depending on what happens with Daniel Alfredsson next year.
Mantha has nothing left to prove at the lower levels. It’s time to put him to the test in training camp and see if he’s ready to play with the big boys.