September 13, 2014

steve laidlaw

2014-09-13

Multi-position eligibility for Ovechkin, Mantha might make the Wings, a sleeper on the Stars blue line and more…

 

HBO is getting out of the 24/7 all-access TV show game. I can't blame them. For one, the Winter Classic is losing its luster. For another, so was 24/7.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed 24/7 when it first came out and I still like the idea of an all-access show. I just feel like it's been diminishing returns. Teams saw how all that media exposure affected them negatively and have insulated their players even in this supposed "all-access" situation.

 

There's definitely still room for this type of show, I just won't be watching it if someone else takes it on. The reality is that if anything big does happen, it'll be blogged and tweeted about ad nauseum so it'll be impossible to actually miss anything important.

 

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Barry Trotz says that Alexander Ovechkin will play both left wing and right wing this season. Oh goodie, maybe he can win two spots on First Team All-NHL again.

 

The good news for fantasy owners is that this might lead to multi-position eligibility. Multi-position is a little bit overrated considering that fantasy sites have giving it away easier than Florida Panthers tickets but it's still a plus.

 

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NHL.com is pumping up Anthony Mantha to break the trend and make the Red Wings without a trip to the AHL.

 

I suppose you can see the logic. Mantha has NHL size and it's a dynamic the Red Wings are sorely lacking in their lineup, especially after parting ways with Todd Bertuzzi. There's also the reality that Mantha may actually be ready to make the leap without needing any NHL seasoning.

 

If you think about how late the Red Wings have drafted over the years because of their team success, not to mention trading away first round picks in "win now" trades, it makes sense that they would need to give their prospects lots of time. They've also plucked a strong majority of prospects from Europe so those prospects would need added time to acclimate to North American ice.

 

There's also the fact that Mantha is in fact the highest forward that the Red Wings have taken since Martin LaPointe went 10th overall in 1991. The Red Wings have only drafted two forwards in the first round in the past two decades: Mantha and Riley Sheahan. Sheahan was a project who needed three years of US college before turning pro. Most first round forwards are fairly NHL ready and can make the leap without much time in the AHL if any at all.

 

None of this is an actual assessment of Mantha as a player, which I'm sure would be more valuable to you and I'll get to that in a second but I just wanted to look at some of the circumstantial factors here to explain why it's plausible for Mantha to buck the trend and jump to the Red Wings right now.

 

What I really like about Mantha is that he's got great size and knows how to use it. He gets to the tough areas on the ice and fights like hell for position. Once he's got that position he's got good enough hands to score all the greasy goals.

 

If the Red Wings are looking for their replacement for Tomas Holmstrom, Mantha is surely it.

 

Of course, it will be a challenge to find a roster spot for Mantha right away. No doubt he's going to be limited as a player defensively and will have typical youthful struggles with the speed of the NHL game and the high-level decision making required at this level but if they can shield him at even strength then he could be an asset on the power play.

 

And let's not make Mantha out to be a career power play specialist. He's got enough talent to become a full time player and could even get there by the end of the season but he probably starts out