Cage Match: Mikko Rantanen vs. Anthony Mantha

Rick Roos


Two former first-round picks battle it out in this week's Cage Match

Although Mikko Rantanen and Anthony Mantha have been on the radar of poolies in keeper leagues since they were drafted (if not even earlier), chances are they’re attracting interest in more one-year leagues this season. The goal in this week’s battle is to see which player has the best chance of 2017-18 success, plus who’ll pan out better long-term. Let’s dive in – Cage Match starts now!

Career Path and Contract Status

Rantanen, who turns 21 later this month, was drafted 10th overall in 2015 following two seasons in Liiga. He received a nine-game NHL cameo in 2015-16, with zero points to show for it, but lit up the AHL to the tune of 60 points in 52 games. Given his stellar AHL performance and Colorado’s struggles as a team, it was no surprise to see him play nearly all last season in the NHL, where he posted 38 points (including 20 goals) and had two separate months where he tallied ten points.

Mantha, 22, was selected 20th overall in 2013 after two junior seasons, then proceeded to lead the entire QMJHL in scoring in 2014-15. Yet as is the norm for the Red Wings, he wasn’t rushed into the NHL. Instead, he played 122 AHL games over the next two seasons, posting a solid but not amazing 78 total points, plus three points in a ten-game NHL stint in 2015-16. Mantha didn’t take the ice for an NHL game last season until November, but then hit the ground running with 31 of his 36 points coming in his first 45 games. He slowed significantly after that, however, and didn’t play in the team’s last five games.

Both players are still on their ELC. Rantanen’s ends after 2018-19 and counts $0.894M per year against the cap. Mantha will be an RFA following this season, during which he’ll earn $0.886M.

Ice Time


Total Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)


18:03 (M.R.) – 4th

15:54 (A.M.) – 7th

2:43 (M.R.) – 2nd

1:53 (A.M.) – 7th

0:04 (M.R.) – 13th

0:02 (A.M.) 13th (tied)

There were larger gaps here than I expected. Not surprisingly, that means their poin