With a little over a week left until the NHL Draft, teams are going into crunch time as scouts race to finalize their draft rankings. These are the days where as a scout, you decide once and for all just how much you’re to advocate for your player. Sometimes if a single scout’s voice is loud enough, it may make all the difference in how high a surprise player can climb. Our next player has the potential to do exactly that – either you love him or you hate him – Val-d’Or forward Anthony Mantha.
Anthony Mantha – Winger, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL – Projected 18th – 25th overall
At 6’4 205 lbs, the QMJHL’s leading scorer is an impressive physical specimen with as much upside as anyone in this draft class. The young sniper exploded onto the scene with a league leading 50-goal campaign for Val-d’Or in his second QMJHL season. Despite his size, Mantha skates strikingly well. Similar to Boston’s Milan Lucic, he uses a quick first step and surprising top end speed to keep defenders off balance. However, Mantha lives along the outside wing, using his speed to create shooting opportunities on the rush – of which there were plenty. He led the entire league in shots, averaging nearly 5 per game, utilizing a quick, accurate wrister with the ability to score from anywhere at anytime. His scoring instincts are excellent, showing an innate ability to read the play, sneak away from a defender and be at the right place at the right time.
So blessed with some the most impressive natural athleticism of recent years, why isn’t Mantha projected to go higher? Well, sometimes you simply don’t know what you’re getting. The young winger shows the occasional flash of brilliance, displaying game-breaking potential and the desire to actually use it. At other times, he’s a floater, relying on perimeter play and exhibiting no willingness to engage physically or defensively. On the nights he doesn’t have “it”, you can tell from the opening puck drop and may not even notice him the rest of the game. Mantha was born a day after the cutoff for the 2012 NHL Draft, so naturally there is skepticism with regards to whether he can truly compared fairly to the rest of the current draft class.
At the end of the day, Mantha’s combination of size, skating and goal scoring are simply unrivaled in this class and some team willing to take on the risk will grab him somewhere in the latter third of the first round.
A huge compilation of all of Mantha’s goals: