This is a sneaky-good add. I've seen him play a couple times and I remember being impressed. Not "Holy ***!" impressed, but certainly "Huh, I'll have to remember that name. I hope he's on the Wings' radar" impressed. It's safe to say he's NHL-ready or somewhere thereabouts. Should we expect a trade or two? Honestly, I'm kinda surprised he signed with us, given our logjam. Maybe he knows something we don't (i.e. Kenny told him the logjam won't be a thing much longer). Or maybe there wasn't much interest in him. Or maybe this was a factor:
Too early to say anything about Svechnikov, though I do feel good about his future. Mantha has all the tools to be a top sniper - but the golden boys of the NHL are your 1Cs, 1Ds, and 1Gs. I believe Larkin will be a 1C, or, at the very least, a damn good 2C. This is a franchise player. This is Zetterberg's successor.
In Larkin, we basically drafted a top-five talent at 15th overall. He's the kind of kid a team tanks an entire season for.
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.
We're not going to get a Buffy-level player for him, despite what some people think.
I'm assuming "Buffy" = Byfuglien...?
If the Jets do move Byfuglien, it probably won't be for all that much, as he's on an expiring contract and he's going to Get Paid next summer (so, you can trade for him, but don't expect to have a shot at keeping him past 2016 if you're not willing to give him big money and long term. And even if you do offer him big money and long term, there'll be other teams offering just as much as you're offering, if not more.)
This piece, written by a knowledgeable Jets fan for a knowledgeable Jets community [Note: I'm not implying that you folks aren't knowledgeable], suggests a realistic return might be Pulkkinen and a defenseman...
Detroit seems to be an ideal destination for all parties. Detroit is insanely deep with left handed defensemen and could use another righty. This trade makes a ton of sense for both the Jets and Red Wings. For a trade of Dustin Byfuglien to Detroit to go through, the Red Wings would probably offer Teemu Pulkkinen and maybe a defensive prospect like Xavier Ouellet.
Believe it or not, I wouldn't necessarily pull that trigger. While I really, really, really, really, really want to see us swing a trade for Byfuglien, and while it's fashionable to say Pulkkinen isn't going to be an impact player at the NHL level because "zomg he's one-dimensional," moving two of our better young assets for only one guaranteed year (or less) of Byfuglien would not be a total no-brainer.
And, about Pulkkinen: he shoots, he scores. He puts up points. I like points. I like scoring. Every team needs producers, us more than most (especially at even strength, where we're absolutely toothless). Five goals in 30 games projects to about 12 goals over a full season. If we assume he plays good minutes with quality linemates for a full season and that he takes even just the slightest step forward in his development, he's probably good for 15-20 next season (2015-16). 15-20 goals for $735,000 is the kind of bang-for-your-buck you need if you're going to build a serious contender with staying power. If he becomes the power play hammer of death we all know he can be, 25 goals isn't out of the question.
Again, the kid scores. He lives to score. He loves to score. He's gifted. It's not like "Yeah, well, he's not gonna have time to get his shot off, and NHL goalies are the best, so he's not gonna score. He's just so one-dimensional." I love one-dimensional. I want one-dimensional. We have more than enough 200-foot players who can play all four positions at the same time and backcheck in their sleep. Give me a specialist who specializes in something as amusingly trivial as putting the puck in the other team's net. ("When would would we ever have a need for that?") I'm not saying all this as an argument against pursuing Byfuglien. (Byfuglien puts up points. I like points. I especially like defensemen who put up points. I super-especially like defensemen who play against the opposition's best players every night and still manage to put up points.) I'm saying we shouldn't knock Pulkkinen when he's obliterated the AHL and played in fewer than 40 NHL games.
They don't have much left to prove, but theyre not better options than we have now, thats the problem.
See, I don't buy that.
Babcock wanted Ouellet on last year's opening night roster. Before we'd signed Green, Ryan Martin said one of the kids would be making the team out of camp. Even now, with Green in the fold and one less spot "available," Kenny has indicated he'd like to start the season with Ouellet or Marchenko on the roster and that he may (but, realistically, surely won't) move someone out for the purpose of freeing up a roster spot for one of the kids. For Kenny to speak to that possibility...it means he himself realizes that starting both Ouellet and Marchenko in Grand Rapids would be pretty much inexcusable, especially given all his talk about how the young players need to take a step forward this season and how we need to get younger and faster as a team.
If both Ouellet and Marchenko start the season in Grand Rapids (and, by extension, spend the majority of another season playing against AHLers), it will be because 1)Smith ($2.75M cap hit x 2 years for a 26-year-old third-pairing defenseman who doesn't produce points and makes costly peewee mistakes on the defensive side of the puck) and Kindl ($2.4M cap hit x 2 years for a 28-year-old #7 defenseman who's a disaster in the d-zone) and Ericsson ($4.25M cap hit x 5 years for an error-prone 31-year-old "defensive defenseman") are all pretty much untradable, and 2) it's very important that the promising and NHL-ready young player who will be replacing Legendary All-Star Defenseman Kyle Quincey next season (and is fully capable of replacing him this season) sees as little NHL ice time as possible this season, because development!
Mantha I am not impressed with; he looks like a good secondary support but seems to give up on that play very easily a few time sor is it only me?
Mantha is an opportunistic sniper who's trying to re-wire his hockey CPU to make himself a more complete, dialed-in hockey player. It's a process; he's a bit of a project. I don't consider him a question mark, though. He's so ungodly gifted and genuinely committed to improvement that I know it's only a matter of time before he "puts it all together."
Ferraro isn't any good. The only reason people like him now is because he isn't Andersson. Very similar to a couple years ago when people liked Andersson for not being Emmerton.
This time last year, people were saying Glendening isn't any good. Ferraro is a better skater [note: he is a superb skater], he's a more natural scorer [note: he has consistently been one of the Griffins' top producers and, arguably, one of their most skilled, most complete, most valuable players], he's well-versed in Jeff Blashill's brand of puck-possession hockey, he can kill penalties, he can take faceoffs, he can agitate, he didn't look out of place against the Lightning, he complemented Miller and Glendening quite well.........the kid gets my vote for the 4RW spot. And I say all this as someone who had pretty much written him off. That he won me over, in the span of a few NHL playoff games? That counts for something in my book.
The Wings just signed Green to do that. DeKeyser is probably going to produce similar numbers offensively to Franson too and he's competent defensively. There's really no room or need for Franson anymore. I wouldn't move Quincey or Smith to get Franson on a bloated deal.
I'm not saying we should sign Franson. You asked what people see in Franson and you said he's basically a right-shooting Quincey. What people see in Franson, when you get right down to it, is that he's a high-end offensive defenseman. Quincey is not a high-end offensive defenseman.
Here's the longer version.
Franson turns 28 in a month. He's 6'5". He shoots right (and shoots well). He has good offensive instincts and offensive ability. He's a good puck mover. He's an asset on the power play. He's a top-four offensive defenseman who could, in theory, be one half of an elite team's top pairing. For the most part, he hasn't played for especially talented teams, which makes his consistently good point production that much more impressive and, by logical extension, begs the question: Have we only seen the tip of the iceberg? If you put him on the right team and in a role that really makes sense for him and the team, you might very well get an all-star defenseman.
Between Franson and Quincey, Quincey might be the better defender, i.e. Quincey's play without the puck might be better than Franson's play without the puck. But Quincey, like Franson, does make his fair share of stupid mistakes. And Quincey, like Franson, isn't a great skater. One could argue Quincey is Franson without the offensive ability (e.g. puck movement) and scoring prowess.
Quincey was solid for us last season, but it's worth pointing out that he was paired with DeKeyser, who's a stud. From Winging It In Motown:
This past season, among the 108 defensemen who played at least 1000 5v5 minutes, DeKeyser finished 3rd in shot attempts against/60 minutes, 2nd in scoring chances against/60 minutes, and 10th in high-danger scoring chances/60 minutes.
I wouldn't mind Franson at the right price. Yes, we just added a scoring defenseman in Mike Green, but I'd like to see us add one more top-four defenseman who can put up points. Green gets us into the playoffs and maybe into the second round. Green and Byfuglien gets us one of the better D groups in the league and a real shot at the Cup.
"Lando" won me over in the playoffs. His skating alone makes him a valuable asset.
Yes, it’s taken him a very long time just to become a fourth-line winger (and even then, he's not guaranteed a spot on the roster), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a fringe NHLer. Maybe he’s just a late bloomer.
Look at Glendening. He made his NHL debut at 24 years old. (Ferraro turns 24 next month.) This time last summer, he was 25. He’d scored one goal in 56 regular season games. Babcock loved him, but most Wings fans considered him an experiment that was doomed to fail. What a difference a year makes! amirite???
I feel Ferraro is another Glendening. I think he deserves the chance we gave Glendening. Those two and Miller were very good together against the Lightning, and I wouldn’t mind seeing what that line could do in a full season.
I mean, I don't actually believe we're going to see a roster defenseman moved out before the start of the season. Kenny's not going to move Quincey to clear cap space and a spot for a kid. He's not going to pull a sign-and-trade with Smith. Maybe (maybe) he moves Kindl, but it sounds like Kindl is being treated as a reclamation project, and we all know how much this organization loves reclamation projects. Even if Kenny did trade Kindl, Ouellet/Marchenko would still have to overtake Quincey/Smith. So, Lashoff would be Kindl's logical replacement.
I would be ok with trading Kindl or Quincey or Smith to a team that needs to reach the cap floor and giving the vacant spot to Ouellet or Marchenko. Both Ouellet and Marchenko are clearly NHL-ready. Hell, Babcock wanted Ouellet on the roster straight out of last year's training camp. These are not players who need to make major strides in Grand Rapids to prove they belong in the NHL. The only reason we're having this conversation is because there's a logjam (and the only reason there's a logjam is because Kenny rewarded Kindl and Ericsson with dumb contracts and now the two are pretty much untradable). Sure, Quincey and Ericsson are veteran NHLers and Ouellet and Marchenko aren't, and, in theory, a veteran is "better" than a kid. But we're getting dangerously close to Catch-22 territory.
"You need to be an NHLer for me to even consider rating you higher than a veteran NHLer, and until I rate you higher than a veteran NHLer, you can't be an NHLer. Grab dat cheez tho!"
I know, I know - better to have a veteran and a largely unproven kid than just an unproven kid. And that's fair enough. But, at the same time...if we're not planning on re-signing Quincey next summer, and we're not going to make a trade for a young stud defenseman, and we're going to continue to preach the need to get younger and quicker and how vitally important it is that the young players all take a step forward this season...maybe, just maybe, having Ouellet (probably the most promising of all our D prospects) on the third pairing instead of Quincey wouldn't be such a bad thing. Is it the safe play? No. Is it the smart play? Honestly, it probably isn't. But we have one of the weaker D groups in the league, and that's largely because we have a spectacular lack of young stud defensemen on the roster. If we're going to build ourselves a Cup-worthy D corps without the aid of a big trade, that means at least one of the Griffins prospects is going to have to become a stud NHL defenseman. Ideally, that happens while Datsyuk and Zetterberg are still elite, which gives us...two years? This may be a situation where "Eh, another year on the farm never hurt anybody" is not the right call.