NOTE: BlueJackets.com will be profiling some of this year's NHL Draft prospects between now and the draft, to be held June 30 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Check the CBJ Today regularly to get the latest on prospects who could become Blue Jackets on draft day.
Anthony Mantha is one of the oldest players in this year’s draft, born just a day after the cutoff for the 2012 NHL Draft. His day-late birthday served to his advantage, climbing in the draft rankings from 2012 to 2013.
In a year’s time, Mantha doubled his goal total and increased his point total by 38 points during that span, landing him the 10th spot on the final 2013 NHL Draft rankings released by Central Scouting.
The 6-foot-4 left winger uses his size to his advantage by holding the zone and getting involved physically. His size helps him break through checks and win board battles for the puck, and he's considered to be one of the more physical players in this year's class.
Though he is not a fighter, Mantha took 71 penalty minutes this season for Val-d’Or. His large frame also helps create traffic and screens in front of goaltenders, which has led to a lot of great scoring chances.
Despite his size, Mantha is an impressive skater with great acceleration and quick speed at both ends of the ice, often out-skating opponents and creating offense by winning races. His good balance and quick thinking also help him pull up and release a quick shot on the rush or make plays in traffic - something that is a requirement at the next level.
While known more for scoring than playmaking, he has great vision and passing that help get his team on the scoreboard.
Mantha’s greatest skill is his puck handling ability. He possesses a wrist shot that is both powerful and accurate while his quick release on beats goalies clean, either resulting in goals or rebound opportunities for his teammates. Coupled with his vision and hockey sense, he is able to get a step ahead and help his teammates get on the scoresheet.
On the other side of the puck, scouts have expressed concern about Mantha's back-checking and his tendency to puck-watch. His inconsistency in the defensive zone has prevented him from climbing higher in the draft prospect rankings, but at the next level, many expect Mantha to step up his physicality and use his size to check more efficiently.
However, Mantha has the potential to develop into a first-line power forward role, something the Blue Jackets could use at even strength and on the power play.
Season GPG A Pts+/-PIM
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