DETROIT -- With a little puck luck, there's a chance that Anthony Mantha could end up leading the team in goals this season.
That would be a singular accomplishment considering that Mantha has missed 28 games this season, eight from Nov. 23-Dec. 12 due to a lower-body injury and 20 from Dec. 22-Feb. 9 with broken ribs and a punctured lung.
After scoring the only goal in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Monday, Mantha has 15 goals, three shy of the 18 that both Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin have.
Mantha sounded up for the challenge with 14 games remaining on the schedule but he was more interested in the team's overall play.
"Hopefully I can produce even more in the last 14 games," Mantha said after the team's practice at the BELFOR Training Center Thursday. "We talked about it in the room and it's you want to represent the logo you wear on your chest, and you want to finish strong. We're not gonna hide it that this year's been really hard for our team but we need to show some character these last 14 games."
In the 11 games since his return from missing 20 games, Mantha has nine points (3-6-9).
He led the team with six shots this past Monday.
"I think we're getting to where he's played enough games to have come back from the multiple injuries and certainly timing is hard when you've been out for as long as he's been out," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Your hands and all those things, it doesn't necessarily click great right away. Now he's been back long enough though where I want to see the Anthony Mantha that we all know is there and that's the elite guy that we had at the start of the year.
"I thought he looked like that last game. I thought him and Dylan played really well together, I thought the line played well. So I'm hoping they can create some of the chemistry that they've shown at different times, either at the end of last year or the beginning of this year and as we've talked lots about, build towards a better tomorrow."
Mantha was on fire to start the season, scoring five goals and two assists in the first two games and 12 goals and 11 assists in the 25 games before his first injury.
The 6-foot-5, 234-pound forward is expected to be a part of the core group of players, along with Larkin and Bertuzzi, to help lead the Wings to the better tomorrow that their coach has talked about.
"Hopefully I can stay here for a long time," Mantha said. "That's what I want. I want to change this team around. I want this team to be competitive like I just said. I think we have a good young group of players and we can make the transition. If it's next year, two years. Hopefully it's faster than in the long term but it feels good to try and be part of that core."
Mantha's two-year, $6.6 million contract ends after this season, when he will be a restricted free agent.
Mantha said he hadn't heard if his agent had started talks with executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman yet but knows his injury-riddled season might affect negotiations.
"It's hard to base right now," Mantha said. "I played 40 games this year. I missed so many games, so it's hard to go for the extension before the end of the year. We'll see in the offseason. Hopefully it goes quick and I'll be here for a long time.
"It will be complicated, I think. Yet again, it's not in my power. My power is to play hockey. My agent and Stevie are gonna talk. Maybe they've started, I don't even know."
Mantha said he'd be open to a long-term deal if the team was also interested in that.
"If we go short, then I'm a free agent in a couple of years," Mantha said. "I said I wanted to be here for the long term. I would love it, that's for sure. That's always where you try to aim as a hockey player. Like I said, we'll see what they offer this summer."
ZADINA, SEIDER UPDATE: Forward Filip Zadina, who has missed the last 15 games with a lower-body injury, has been skating on his own.
"We'll know more once he gets practicing with us," Blashill said. "He skated again today. It's another day of skating on his own. We'll know more probably tomorrow night. He'll see Dr. (Doug) Plagens tomorrow night. Once we get him to practice, I can give you a way more definitive time frame. We're getting closer."
The news sounds even more promising for defenseman Moritz Seider, who has missed the last four Grand Rapids Griffins games, in which the Griffins are 1-3.
"Practiced with the team today in Rockford," Blashill said. "I think they're hoping to have him there for the next game, so it's just a matter of going through some conditioning and it's a matter of getting him ready to get back in their lineup."
The Griffins play in Rockford Friday and then at home against the IceHogs Saturday.
In 46 games with the Red Wings' AHL affiliate, Seider has two goals, 18 assists, 26 penalty minutes and is minus-5.
From all reports, Seider has handled his first year as a professional in North America well.
"One is he's a good player and he's shown that," Blashill said. "I think he's grown since he's been over here. He showed good early and has grown. He seems to grasp coaching well, which the best athletes do. You tell him something, he gets better at it, from everything I've been told. He's got a moxie, a confidence to him that I like a lot. The fact he played last year against men probably prepared him for this year and the fact he's been in the American League this year has been a really good thing.
"I think he's allowed to grow without the constant everyday, external pressures that exist in the NHL. I talked a little about that with (Vancouver's) Quinn Hughes and (Colorado's) Cale Makar and the success they're having. They were able to spend a couple years after their draft year before debuting in the NHL, whether that's in college in their cases or the American League, I think it helps guys became ready-made when they get to the NHL."