It’s always good when a plan works out.
With three names remaining on their draft board that they’d like to select, the Detroit Red Wings traded down two spots and got the guy that topped that list in the first place.
With the 20th selection in the NHL Entry Draft, the Wings took big left winger Anthony Mantha, Sunday in New Jersey.
“We had it narrowed down to three names, would have been ecstatic with any of the three names we had, and as soon as we got to that point we knew we were going to get one of them, so it was a no-brainer really for us,” said Joe McDonnell, the team’s director of amateur scouting. “And then we ended up getting the guy we really wanted in the end.”
The Wings dealt the 18th pick to San Jose for the 20th pick and the 58th.
“He was a guy we had targeted a lot higher so we lucked out on that for sure,” McDonnell said. “Obviously, it’s going to be a few years from now, but we’re real excited to get him where we picked him.”
Mantha, who grew up a Montreal fan, is going to do whatever it takes to get in a Wings jersey as soon as possible.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to be there, or not I’ll be back in the junior level, bring my game back to 100 percent and just be ready for the next year, for sure,” said Mantha, who patterns his game after Eric Staal. “I’ll show everyone, every team, and the Red Wings that they did not take the wrong guy.
“My approach is really to make the big team next year, if not, in the next two years,” Mantha continued. “I will show them everything that I can to be there without having to go to the minors.”
McDonnell said Mantha, who has two years of junior eligibility remaining, will return to juniors next season and will turn pro the following year.
“Most kids think that,” McDonnell said when told Mantha had aspirations of making the Wings out of training camp. “They might not say it, but most kids think it. They think ‘I’ve got a real chance to make an NHL team,’ and that should be their goal. They have to come in with lofty expectations. Deep down they probably know it’s going to be tough but it’s good to say that.
“He has to bulk up for sure,” McDonnell continued. “Like all these kids that are going, there’s not many that are real men yet. It’s a process for them. He’s on the skinny side right now but we’ll see his work ethic. He’ll get bigger eventually.”
The left winger, who’s 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, had 50 goals and 39 assists in 67 games last season with the Val d’Or of the Quebec Major Junior League. He was also a plus-21.
He’s the only 50-goal scorer in draft.
“He’s just one of those guys that seem to find a way to hit the net, find a way to sneak to the goalies,” McDonnell said. “His accuracy is excellent.”
Mantha, who helped lead Team Canada to capture a bronze medal at the 2012 Under-18 World Championship, recorded five hat tricks last season and was named to the QMJHL Second All-Star Team.
“I think it’s really the precision that I put into my shot,” Mantha said when asked what makes his shot so good. “It’s not necessarily the force that you put, but more of the precision.”
Mantha looks forward to help continue the Wings’ playoff streak, which stands at 22 years in a row, down the road.
“If we can continue that with me in the lineup in the next years I’ll be willing to go there right away and performing to help them out even more.”
It’s the fourth straight year the Wings have taken a forward with their top pick – Martin Frk (2012), Tomas Jurco (2011) and Riley Sheahan (2010).
“It’s really being prepared for the whole summer and my confidence level is quite high so I’m just going to go into camp and try to make place as soon as I can,” Mantha said.
Mantha is the grandson of four-time Stanley Cup champion Andre Pronovost, who played 556 games for Montreal, Boston, Detroit and Minnesota between the 1956-57 and 1967-68 seasons.
“It’s really an honor,” Mantha said when asked if it was surreal to wear the jersey his grandfather wore. “Words really can’t come, but it’s just being there and showing them what I’m able to do. It’s just something that’s great for me.”
Mantha will participate in the Wings’ development camp in Traverse City July 10-15.