Picking Prospects: The Hulking Anthony Mantha


For the first time since 2007, you will not hear Garth Snow called to the podium to make one of the draft’s first five picks. Actually, for the first time ever, Garth Snow has a non-lottery first round draft choice to use.

The Islanders are slotted to pick 15th on June 30th, Draft Day, the first time the Islanders will be selecting outside of the top ten since they drafted Ryan O’Marra 15th-overall in 2005. The depth of this year’s draft is deep, so the Islanders should have a surplus of highly touted prospects to choose from when it’s their turn to add to the organization’s already deep prospect pool.

The Isles won’t get every player, but they will get somebody they should be able to utilize for years to come. Keep in mind that the draft is never about selecting for need, but selecting the best pick available. Today, Eyes on Isles continues its evaluation of NHL prospects and their potential fit with the New York Islanders with a closer look at Anthony Mantha, the QMJHL’s leading goal-scorer.

Anthony Mantha, LW, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL

67 GP – 50 G – 39 A – 89 Pts

Anthony Mantha, the 10th ranked North American skater, is a unique breed of forward. His combination of size (6’4, 190 pounds) and skill makes him one of the most interesting prospects in this year’s NHL Draft, especially after scouts watched his numbers skyrocket in his second full season with Val-d’Or. During the 2012-13 season, Mantha saw an improvement of 28 goals and 38 points from the previous year.

As his numbers would suggest, Anthony is more of a goal-scorer than a playmaker. He has fantastic scoring abilities, as demonstrated by his league leading 50-goal campaign this past season. Mantha has a heavy and accurate wrist-shot, and, combined with an extremely quick release, Anthony can take over a game by himself.

Mantha’s style of play is molding itself into that of a power-forward. As mentioned, Mantha has the size. When you factor in Mantha’s top-end speed and acceleration, Anthony becomes dangerous in the offensive-zone. Whether he’s driving towards the net, battling in the corners, or pulling up into the slot, his size and speed provides him with so many different ways to beat opposing defensemen.

Comparisons have been made to Sean Couturier, but Mantha likes to use Jordan Staal as a model for what he is trying to become.

"“For the more defensive part of the game, I like watching him but he also has hands and can score goals..”"

Anthony’s play without the puck suggests that he has some developing to do in order to reach Jordan Staal’s level when playing without the puck, but Mantha’s offensive-capabilities may be greater.

How does Mantha fit with the Islanders?

The New York Islanders have an abundance of prospects. More specifically, the New York Islanders have an abundance of offensive players. Not every forward the Islanders select in the draft is going to get a shot with the Islanders, and not every forward on the current roster is going to stay on this roster. I would like to present the following scenario:

1)   Nino Niederreiter is traded from the Islanders as part of a package for a top-end player.

Let me expand.

In this scenario, Nino Niederreiter, arguably the purest goal-scorer in the Islanders’ organization (not named Tavares), would be shipped off the Island due to his poor attitude, leaving the Islanders without a top-six goal-scorer and power-forward. Without Nino Niederreiter, the Islanders would lose a physical body that can score goals at will by driving towards the net. I wonder who that sounds like…

Drafting the physical and offensive-minded Anthony Mantha would immediately fill the void that Nino would leave if he was moved, although development would require patience. Rather than rush Mantha to the NHL, as the Isles did with Niederreiter, Garth would have to keep Mantha in the QMJHL for a couple of years, so he could round out a few defensive quirks.

Of course, the biggest knock on Mantha is his compete level without the puck. Back-checking and physicality along the boards has been noted as “red flags.”

Does the prospect of drafting Anthony Matha intrigue you?