I'm not sure if those of you that commented on the game actually watched the game or not but Mantha played great. It was his first game of pro hockey, no one was expecting him to have a 3 or 4 point night like he did regularly in junior. Every time he touched the puck he made things happen, he was dominant, despite not making it on the score sheet and registering only one shot on goal. The thing that impresses me the most is his size, and the fact that he uses that size to his advantage. He was a huge player in junior, but he was a boy amongst men down there, and he seemed reluctant to make those big hits. He sure wasn't last night, he laid a few great hits. There were a couple times when he had the puck, skating along the boards and he man-handled the opposition. There were two instances that I remember, in which he was double teamed by the Stars defenders in the offensive zone and he easily came away with the puck, he was winning every puck battle.
Although he only registered the one shot, he did ring one off the post in the third, and it was sitting there in the crease but Pulkkinen couldn't get a stick on it to bury the rebound. He was on the ice for a goal for and a goal against but finished with a -1 because both goals came on the Griffins power-play. The Stars, Travis Morin scored a short-handed goal in the first, which actually came off a bad giveaway by Mantha, it was on his very first shift of the game, imagine the nerves he was feeling, but after that one giveaway he played unbelievable. He had the *third assist* on the Griffins first goal that came on the power-play to start the second period. All in all I was very impressed with his pro debut, and he is going to be a great player.
I agree. I only saw the 3rd period/OT, but he did not look like someone who was just coming off an injury or playing in his first pro game - to me he looked like he was driving the play, hard forechecking, and very dangerous offensively. And he will only get better. Very encouraging first game.
Is that truly your only barometer of success? I think the original point was well taken -- Stevie has complemented his drafting with good moves in free agency and trades. Kenny "kicks tires" and mostly fails, but defaults to then saying building through the draft is the way to go anyways.
You need balance to build a contender. Especially when you draft mid-to-late first round for two decades.