Yeah I've read it. Exactly which of my points do you think is... ridiculous?
Mantha's season was, perhaps, a bit disappointing. His game still needs work. But the Wings knew what they were getting when they drafted him. They knew he was going to be a bit of a project. Anyone who'd watched him play knew he was going to be a bit of a project. He was never going to make the team out of last year's camp. At most, he might've earned a couple games with the big club towards the end of the regular season. He needed to learn defense. He needed to learn how to protect the puck against men. He needed to learn how to emerge from a brutal scrum with possession of the puck. He needed to learn how to operate with much less time and space and civility than he'd enjoyed in the QMJHL. His game was weighted wildly towards the offensive side of things. That had to change in a big way, and that's not a change you make in half a season. And that's saying nothing of the broken leg.
For all these reasons and more, you can't say his season was "very, very, very disappointing." You can barely say it was disappointing. He was in for a tough season even before he'd broken his leg. All things considered, 15 goals and 33 points in 62 games, with limited power play time and third-line minutes, is a pretty good year. If the hype surrounding Mantha hadn't been so absurdly huge, no one would have a problem with his season. We'd be saying he needs another year, and that that's no big deal because it's to be expected with a 20-year-old who's never had to play defense or compete against men.
But none of that really seems to mean much to you, which I don't get. The way you see it, Mantha sucked this year, and it wasn't because of the injury, it was because he sucked. And if someone tries to "use the injury as an excuse" for his "poor play," that line of reasoning doesn't hold up, because it's "100% speculation." Even though saying the injury had nothing to do with his performance is equally speculative and, in fact, much less reasonable. Because, which sounds more plausible: that breaking his leg right before his first NHL training camp and spending the first part of his first AHL season unable to do much of anything in the way of physical conditioning A) had a significant impact on his season and should be taken into account when reviewing his season and the progress he made (or didn't make), or B) had no impact whatsoever on his season and should not be taken into account when reviewing his season and the progress he made (or didn't make)?
He needs to be better away from the puck. He needs to compete harder. He needs to improve in some key areas. No one's more aware of this than the player himself. But I don't see the need for trashing him. I'm not sure most people appreciate how tough it is to go from being a big fish in the QMJHL (which is pretty much a terrible league) to a boy among men in the AHL, especially when you were such a big fish that you were never really asked (or taught!) how to play AHL/NHL-level defense and your shifts would often stretch to 120 seconds long.
I don't see the basis for saying he sucked. I don't see how comparing his first few games as a Griffin to Tyler Bertuzzi's first few games as a Griffin really tells us anything. It's sort of like the Franzen-versus-Chris Neil thing. Franzen doesn't play with Chris Neil's "intensity" and "edge" and "physicality." But Neil doesn't have Franzen's skill, talent, skating, hockey IQ, scoring prowess, etc. Bertuzzi's game, at this time, is more complete than Mantha's. So is Landon Ferraro's. But Mantha's strengths can't be taught or instilled, while the things he needs to learn can. Same deal as Nyquist, Tatar, Pulkkinen - except, Mantha's going to become a full-time Wing at 21 or 22 years of age, versus the standard 23 or 24. Because 1) he's that talented, 2) the things he needs to work on are things that virtually all 20-year-old snipers need to work on, and 3) the Wings are the best at taking raw talent and sculpting it into a rounded NHL player.
The kid's going to be a very good NHLer. He's not a problem player. He's not lazy. He just has to learn to play a kind of game he's never really had to play, and at the highest level. It's a process. It was always going to be a process. Nothing has really changed since the moment we drafted Mantha. There was always going to be an adjustment period.