Anthony Mantha appears to be handling disappointment well.
Mantha, back in the QMJHL as a 19-year-old after participating in training camp and one pre-season game with the Detroit Red Wings, has terrorized opponents of the Val-d’Or Foreurs through five games since his demotion, recording eight goals and six assists for a league-leading 14 points.
Scoring is nothing new for Mantha, who the Red Wings selected in the first round (20th overall) after watching him claim the QMJHL’s goal-scoring crown with a 50-goal campaign.
But what the Red Wings want to see along with his 6-foot-4 frame and James Neal-esque scoring savvy is more competitiveness and a better-rounded game.
“He’s got to go back to juniors and learn to be an every-day player,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told the Macomb Daily. “When you compete every day and when you compete on every puck, get strong enough, live it every day and one day you get to play here. In the meantime, you get to play juniors or the American League.”
Mantha, who is eligible to play in the AHL in 2014-15, was the only junior-aged Red Wings prospect to play in the NHL pre-season. He is the frontrunner to win the QMJHL scoring title — although Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin will have something to say about that — but perhaps the biggest step forward he can make will be to crack Canada’s world junior team.
FINAL CUTS: Amid heavy competition, Adam Almquist has put himself in position for an NHL call-up at some point this season.
The 22-year-old defenseman had a good training camp and appeared in three NHL pre-season games, recording two goals and two assists to establish himself as the eighth defenseman on the NHL depth chart despite concerns over his lack of size at just 5-foot-10 and 174 pounds.
Although not the biggest blueline name on the Red Wings’ prospect list with the likes of Ryan Sproul, Mattias Backman and Xavier Ouellet hogging the headlines, Almquist’s keen hockey sense and skill level could make him a valuable asset for the Red Wings.
Almquist had 10 goals and 21 assists in his first AHL season with Grand Rapids in 2012-13.
“If he can work at it and get to 187 pounds, with his skill set he may be able to play,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told MLive.com.
“He’s talented,” Babcock added, to the Detroit Free Press. “Moves the puck. He’s an undersized guy, but his skill set and his hockey sense are so good that he might be able to play. He’s going to have a huge winter, then a great summer next summer, then see what happens. But he looks to me, his mind and his athleticism are NHL. His body is small.”
Up front, it was former first-round pick Riley Sheahan and recent free-agent signing Luke Glendening perhaps putting themselves at the top of the list for recalls. Both appeared in five pre-season games, with Sheahan going without a point and Glendening registering a goal and an assist.
Calle Jarnkrok, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and Mitchell Callahan were the other final cuts up front, while it was Ouellet and Sproul outlasting the rest on defense. All will play key roles for Grand Rapids this season as the Griffins attempt to defend their Calder Cup championship.
“Ouellet and Sproul look like they’re going to be ready for prime time pretty soon,” Babcock told the Red Wings official website.
NOTES: Goaltender Jake Paterson (Saginaw, OHL) signed an entry-level contract with the Red Wings over the weekend, joining Mrazek and Coreau as goaltending prospects under contract with the organization … Left-winger Andreas Athanasiou (Barrie, OHL) had one of the better camps of the junior-aged prospects and is off to a good start with two goals and three assists in four games … Center Mattias Janmark (AIK, SEL) is in the top 10 in Swedish scoring with five goals and two assists in six games. Janmark is a high-upside, 20-year-old sleeper taken in the third round of this past June’s draft.
Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Nastasiuk, Zach||Owen Sound||OHL||CHL||4||2||2||4||2||-3||–|
|McNulty, Marc||Prince George||WHL||CHL||5||1||4||5||16||0||–|
|Pope, David||W. Kelowna||USHL||USHL/JR-A||7||0||4||4||10||-3||8|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT