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Placing Anthony Mantha’s scoring exploits in context

Anthony Mantha had a big return to the QMJHL after an unsuccesful-in-the-results-department World Junior Championship run with Team Canada (though he proved at least some of his detractors wrong along the way), scoring 2 goals in the Val-d'Or Foreurs' 4-1 win over Drummondville last night.

His status as the QMJHL's leading scorer (with 37 goals, 38 assists and 75 points registered over the course of all of 33 games played) and statistical milestone-setter despite a 3-plus-week absence may be put into a little perspective, however, via this video from Hockey Prospect Videos, illustrating that Mantha's status as having genuine 30-to-35-goal-scoring potential does not change the fact that he's playing major junior hockey, not professional hockey--because pro hockey doesn't allow you to wind up and wait for a picture-perfect pass on a repeated basis:

I'm not insinuating that Mantha has anything less than elite scoring potential at the professional level--because he really does have 30+ goal "upside" if he keeps filling that lanky 6'4" frame out and keeps working as hard as he's been working on rounding out his game--but I think we all need to "be reminded" that junior hockey is a world away from the NHL, and that Mantha's not going to suddenly step into the Wings' lineup next season. He's highly likely to graduate to the AHL level needing a season or two to establish himself as a pro before needing a season or two to establish himself as a key contributor, like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, etc. before him.

Personally speaking, I'm not quite up to posting regularly yet, but this one kind of landed in my lap.

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Comments

Primis's avatar

I think the big thing with Mantha is that while the Wings have had hyped junior guys in the system before, none of them had gaudy numbers backing the hype and potential.

There’s no needing to tell others “Well his numbers are this, BUT his upside is…”.  With Mantha it’s “Dude, just *look* at this stat lines if you want to know his upside”.

As Wings fans, we always draft guys and then need to explain what and why, and where they might fit in long-term (”Well, he’s a responsible two-way guy” or “He’s a Swiss-army-knife forward with leadership and some other intangibles”).  With Mantha it’s a simple as “He’s expected to put pucks in the net, period”.

In a way that’s refreshing.

Posted by Primis on 01/10/14 at 04:10 PM ET

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Mantha definitely needs time to develop his defensive game, which means we’ll see him in the Winged Wheel starting in 2025.

Posted by ZandPasha11 on 01/10/14 at 04:15 PM ET

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The thing that scares me is that they are going to go to great lengths to make him into a complete player. When he gets to GR, I bet Blashill (pulling a Babcock a la Brendan Smith) and plays Mantha on the PK and not the PP, just to make him “focus on defense.”

Anyways, the Wings are growing this history of taking guys and trying to mold them all into the same player: skilled two-way forward. Washington tried to do that with Ovechkin and many people thought his glory days were gone before last season.

I understand there is a strong need to round out a player’s game. And I also understand that Ovechkin is a minus player this year and maybe is allowed too much free reign to cherry pick and avoid defensive responsibility. The other part of the problem might be that Ovechkin’s center and other winger may also not be able to pick up the defensive slack either (I don’t follow WSH enough to observe this - and I don’t know Backstrom’s reputation and two-way skills). When Ovechkin focused more on D, his overall value was lessened - he was still never a good defensive forward - just less dangerous of a scorer. Didn’t make the team better off.

Anyways, I’d like to see the Wings develop this guy as a scorer and not try to make him the generic “skilled two-way forward” that they seem to want every single player to be. Again, I know he has to round out his game with and without the puck and on both ends of the rink. But cater to this guy’s game; don’t try to make him something he isn’t.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 01/10/14 at 04:20 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I think that you have to be able to play defense to play in the NHL, but you don’t exactly see Jurco being held back or Almquist told to “stay home.”

The Wings at least tend to believe what Jim Bedard does about goaltending: that you have to emphasize a player’s strengths and refine what they do best while working on incorporating what they don’t do so well into emphasizing that the foundation of a player’s game is already established by the time that they turn pro, and that tearing that foundation apart (see: what the Leafs tried to do with Jonas Gustavsson) is a bad idea.

If Mantha can prove that he’s going to keep popping water bottles at the pro level, there will be no reason to hold him back.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/10/14 at 04:25 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Wings haven’t had a player put up numbers this gaundy in Junior since Danny Cleary potted 115 points (53g, 62a) in 64 games with the Belleville Bulls in 95/96.

Anyways, I’d like to see the Wings develop this guy as a scorer and not try to make him the generic “skilled two-way forward” that they seem to want every single player to be. Again, I know he has to round out his game with and without the puck and on both ends of the rink. But cater to this guy’s game; don’t try to make him something he isn’t.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 01/10/14 at 03:20 PM ET

Kind of like they did with Yzerman, eh?  wink

Posted by SK77 on 01/10/14 at 04:28 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

Not to project what kind of Pro career he may or may not have, but Lemieux had similar stats playing in the QMJHL 81-84. Does this mean he will have the same success as a pro, of course not ! , but the kid can only play against the guys in his league. However, at this point I’ll take a kid who is scoring at a rate of 2+ points a game,and who did not look out of place against the best players his age in the world juniors, rather than a kid who is not.

Posted by Down River Dan on 01/10/14 at 04:54 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Last year Martin Frk put up some pretty good numbers in 56 games with Halifax (35-49-84). That’s not Mantha-level numbers, but he did add 13 gaols and 20 assists in just 17 playoff games. This year, he’s scored zero points in 13 games with GR and was sent to Toledo because he wasn’t ready for AHL-level play.

So, while I’m thrilled to see Mantha tearing it up right now, they call it the Major Juniors for a reason. Until he plays in GR and shows he can score consistently (without being a major defensive liability), he’s just another highly talented kid with a whole lot of “upside.”

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 01/10/14 at 05:08 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Historically, the QMJHL tens to calculate out to 1 point in the Q to 0.28 points in the NHL.

Mantha’s pace for about 120 points roughly translates to 33-34 NHL points if historical averages hold up… although there can be very wide swings in how well those hold up and Mantha’s play as more of a power forward giant-among-men at this level does seem like it would have much more of a drop-off than say a Jonathan Drouin-type, who is much more a dominant stickhandler/passer.

For reference on scoring paces, Patrick Kane spent one year in the OHL and put up 145 points. Once again though, not a power forward-type.

Mantha will have more control over his ascension to the Wings than lower-touted prospects before him, but he’ll spend the lion’s share of time int the AHL re-calibrating his game for bigger, faster competition.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/10/14 at 05:19 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Mantha was among the Top scorers with the Best Junior players in the World 2014WJC, his passing was great, plus/minus better than most. Sutter gave him big minutes.

Maybe comments should be made on Wing’s goalie who played poorly against Top Juniors and even with his Junior Club in Ontario.

Goalie biased blogger?  Mantha is not Frk who one dimensional.

He should be a strong top 6 Power Forward which the Wings don’t have. Already 6’4”/5” and 210 lbs.

Enough negative crap on the Wings. Sproul, Almquist, Ferraro, Ouellete, Jurco need NHL time soon.  They are already better than Cleary, Sammy, Bert, Quincey, Eaves and have little NHL Ice Time.  Stop this traction, reload BS and rebuild. KH already screwed up on Rafs as he is now a free agent (KH took him off Voluntary retired list and not Wings property anymore, WHY??) and will sign with Stevie Y or nobody.

Heh KH Gaborik is an UFA (broken and not as old as Broken Sammy , I think).  Sign him at the deadline and keep the Wings one of the oldest teams in the NHL!!!

Time for a couple of younger changes.  I have been a Fan of the Wings for 50 years + and I am starting to see some old nightmares resurface.

End RANT!

Frustrated with the last 3 or 4 years!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 01/10/14 at 05:20 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

Rafi isn’t coming back to the NHL.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 01/10/14 at 07:32 PM ET

bigdee89's avatar

Rafi isn’t coming back to the NHL.

...And Hasek will never come out of retirement

Posted by bigdee89 from The Great White North Eh? on 01/11/14 at 12:11 AM ET

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Anyways, I’d like to see the Wings develop this guy as a scorer and not try to make him the generic “skilled two-way forward” that they seem to want every single player to be.

Well, gird your loins for disappointment, Vito.  Defensively irresponsible forwards don’t stay in Detroit long, almost regardless of their offensive upside.  If Mantha can’t get to at least an average level of defensive responsibility, he’s never going to get off a third line for Detroit, assuming for the moment he ever made it up in the first place.

Historically, the QMJHL tens to calculate out to 1 point in the Q to 0.28 points in the NHL.

I think averages like that tend to break down fairly quickly at forward because they mostly miss the players who make it solidly into the league and weight them equally with the guys who barely scrape in, play a year or two, and disappear.  For instance, when you look at players drafted in the first couple rounds in the NHL draft who played in the Q:

1998 Draft:

Lecavalier: 153 points in 122 QMJHL games, 1.25 ppg.
              769 points in 1068 games, .72 ppg.
Tanguay: 214 points in 152 QMJHL games, 1.4 ppg
            771 points in 935 NHL games, .82 ppg.
Ribiero: 292 points in 136 Q games. 2.14 ppg.
          640 in 828 NHL games, .77 ppg.
Richards: 432 points in 190 Q games, 2.27 ppg.
            849 in 946 NHL games, .9 ppg.

With those guys, legit NHL offensive forwards, you see more direct Q to NHL trends than .28 to 1.

Where the trend JJ talks about holds up better is with defensemen, who at the Q level get so many of their points off cheap and easy second assists that evaporate in the NHL, and guys who don’t really make the NHL, who racked up a bunch of Q points but never did anything at the NHL level.

The problem with all of this is that the QMJHL is so freaking far away from the NHL level it’s like trying to figure out exactly where a football will land the second it leaves a QBs hand 40 yards away.  The guys who end up being good NHLers have a tighter correlation, it’s just impossible to pick out which of those huge QMJHL the tighter correlation will apply to, which makes the whole concept completely useless as a predictor of success in the NHL.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/11/14 at 11:04 AM ET

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guys who don’t really make the NHL, who racked up a bunch of Q points but never did anything at the NHL level.

Such as…..

when you look at players drafted in the first couple rounds in the NHL draft who played in the Q [in] 1998

Oh, 1998 is such a good measuring stick to 15 years later.

it’s like trying to figure out exactly where a football will land the second it leaves a QBs hand 40 yards away.

As a former HS quarterback ironically from 1998, that’s actually quite accurate. It’s certainly much higher than 28%. I guess you’ve never thrown a football.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 01/11/14 at 12:59 PM ET

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Historically, the QMJHL tens to calculate out to 1 point in the Q to 0.28 points in the NHL.

JJ, your posts are usually bang on the money, but this one (while based in a true observation) has serious holes. You have misapplied the statistic.

Historically, what is true is that players who move directly from the Q to the NHL tend to score at 28% of their Q rate in their first NHL season. What you have not accounted for is:

1) Difference in season length. The NHL plays more games than the Q, so it’s not a matter of multiplying season totals by 0.28. You prorate the per-game pace.

Mantha is putting up a 2.2 ppg pace in the Q right now. Using the historical conversion rate, that would project Mantha as a 0.62 ppg player in the NHL in 2014-15, which is a 50-51 point pace, not 33-34.

2) Young players of course are still generally improving by a fair amount year over year, so with Mantha we would expect his numbers to keep climbing for a couple of years.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/11/14 at 06:32 PM ET

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Oh, 1998 is such a good measuring stick to 15 years later.

As opposed to, say, 2009?

As a former HS quarterback ironically from 1998, that’s actually quite accurate.

Be honest, you’re wearing your HS jersey right now, aren’t you?

 

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/11/14 at 08:06 PM ET

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And probably the pads.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/11/14 at 08:42 PM ET

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I mean, the cups a given, right?

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/11/14 at 08:42 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/11/14 at 05:32 PM ET

Thanks for straightening me out there. Completely missed that.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/11/14 at 08:50 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.