NHL Draft prospects: No. 26 Anthony Mantha

Anthony Mantha.

Intro: Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the NHL draft in New Jersey on June 30.

The countdown continues with the sharp-shooting grandson of former Montreal Canadiens winger Andre Pronovost: Val-d’Or Foreurs forward Anthony Mantha.

Stats: Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL) | 67 GP | 50 G | 39 A | 89 P | +21 | 71 PIM

Who is Anthony Mantha?
Mantha received the tutelage of a Stanley Cup winner in his grandfather, and he often credits the relationship formed with Pronovost for part of his success. Mantha displays the soft hands around the goal that made him a dangerous marksman in junior. He had five hat tricks this season and vastly improved his goal total from 22 as a rookie to 50. He was a bit of a late-bloomer, but after missing the cutoff date for the 2012 drafty by a day, he’s considered a first-round talent in a deep draft class. His 50 goals were tops in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and tied for second-most in the Canadian Hockey League this season.

Anthony Mantha’s scouting report:
Mantha is a pure scorer with soft hands and a nose for the net. Although big at six-foot-four and 190 pounds, Mantha is more of a finesse player. He finds the openings in the defence and has the quick release and scorer’s instincts to finish his chances. Mantha anticipates plays well and is an effective playmaker, but his forte is his goal scoring. The drawbacks to his game are his defence and lack of physical play and intensity. Many believe he falls in the “boom or bust” category.

Teams who might be interested in Anthony Mantha:
The Dallas Stars, owners of two first-round picks, could be looking to inject some offence into a future lineup that is missing a pure scorer. His skill level would put him among the top of the class, but his compete level drops his stock. Nevertheless, his offensive instincts and touch around the net can’t be taught and could make him an enticing prospect for a team in need of some future scorers. He might be worth the gamble at the back of the first round for a team like the Stars.

Scout’s take: “Mantha is a big kid with a ton of physical maturation left and a very projectable frame,” says Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He has a smooth skill set for a big man and is a very good shooter. He never seems to dominate on the ice but always finds himself in great scoring areas and he doesn’t miss very often. He does not play physically, something that often shocks you when you go to watch him play.”

“He’s got a great shot and he doesn’t need much time or space to release it,” says David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “He’s got good size, but he’s a bit gangly and he needs to work on his lower-body strength a little bit. He’s not a great skater and he certainly needs to work on that. The other aspect of his game is he’s got to be more involved. He’s prone to not just taking shifts, but periods and nights off.

“At the end of the day,” Burstyn concludes, “he’s got a premium and that is that he can score goals. That might be hard for teams to overlook. You take a team like Calgary that has three first-rounders — maybe they take a chance on this guy.”

Rankings: Mantha was ranked 10th by the NHL’s Central Scouting (North American skaters) and 24th overall by both McKeen’s Hockey and International Scouting Services.