According to the website Prospect-Stats.com, Ryan Mantha had 190 shots on goal during 5×5 play for Niagara of the OHL. That’s an enormous total, almost 40 more than his nearest league competitor. He also led in 5×4 shots, with 102. He was an overager (20) so that is a factor in this conversation. That understood, Ryan Mantha is one of the latest in a group of astute defensive acquisitions by Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers.
- In 2015/16, Mantha just didn’t look terrific and failed to take that next step forward at both ends. As such, the New York Rangers elected not to sign him (and that appeared to be the right decision).
- Mantha’s OA season reminded me a lot of Jake Muzzin’s breakout OA year. It’s like the light bulb finally went off and he realized how good he could be because of his size advantage and skill set.
- Mantha possesses an absolutely lethal point shot; just a booming cannon from the point. And he shot often this year (he led the entire OHL in shots). But he was aggressive in attacking the offensive zone, using his size to barrel down the ice to drive across the opponent’s blueline.
- It’s clear he really worked on his skating. And defensively, he was much more aggressive in using his size in the corners and in front of the net. His overall agility will never be a major strength, so being able to put himself in the right position and being able to really physically punish guys was an important step forward for him to take.
Recommend reading the entire passage, Otten does a wonderful job in giving us an idea about each player (and he has something on every OHL Oiler from last season).
NHL EQUIVALENCIES, DEFENSE 2016-17
Mantha is one year older than Ethan Bear but they arrive in pro hockey at the same time. Bear is the more prominent prospect, but Mantha was a higher draft pick (No. 104 in 2014, Bear No. 124 in 2015). I’m not sure there’s any way to project one or another beyond our own personal bias (Bear is known to us and a year younger, he is most likely to be favored by the fan base).
I think it wise to assume all of Ziyat Paigin, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and Ryan Mantha spend the entire season in Bakersfield. One of these may well may emerge as an obvious recall from the group but we don’t know who it is and when it’ll happen. Despite appearances and issue framing, Ryan Mantha belongs in the group and has earned three full seasons to show what he can bring at the AHL level. He’ll have to push past the others (plus the veteran recalls) in order to get NHL time. It’s unlikely to happen in 2017-18 but Ryan Mantha is a worthwhile follow this coming season.