Mantha’s clinching goal was his 81st goal in 81 games played this season, 57th in 57 regular-season games and 24th in 24 playoff games.
"He’s just a big, strong, 6-foot-4 guy who holds on to the puck under pressure in the offensive zone," Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer told the Wings’ website. "Month after month, week after week, he just keeps proving that he is a dominant offensive power forward. I’m really excited about him turning pro next year."
Turning pro does not necessarily mean that Mantha will be ready to join the Wings as soon as next season, but he will get an opportunity.
"If Anthony Mantha is ready to play in the National Hockey League next year and he beats somebody out, he’ll play in the National Hockey League," Wings general manager Ken Holland said after the Wings’ playoff run ended. "But if he can’t beat anybody out, we’re not just going to put him on the team because he had a great junior career. I don’t believe in entitlement, I don’t believe in handing people jobs. I believe you come in and you take somebody’s job."
The Wings have always preferred to let their young players develop in the minors before promoting them to the NHL.
Injuries changed that quite a bit this past season as the team was forced to recall Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Luke Glendening, Landon Ferraro, Mitch Callahan, Teemu Pulkkinen, Adam Almquist, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul and Alexey Marchenko.
"If they get here too early, what happens is the coaches and the fans and the manager and the media, they’ll suddenly start to make mistakes, they get down on him. That’s what happens," Holland said. "That’s why young players get traded to other organizations.
"I’m hoping to leave these players away from here as long as possible so that when they do get here, the growing pains are as short as possible."
JURCO EXCELLING WITH GRIFFINS
Mantha need look no further than Jurco to see how difficult it can be to make the transition from the AHL to the NHL.
In 32 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Jurco had 13 goals and 19 assists.
In 36 games with the Wings, Jurco had eight goals and seven assists. In three playoff games, Jurco did not record a point.
After the Wings lost to the Boston Bruins in the first round, Jurco returned to the Griffins to help them in their quest to repeat as Calder Cup champions.
I don’t believe in handing people jobs. I believe you come in and you take somebody’s job.
In five playoff games with the Griffins, Jurco has five goals and one assist, including a hat trick in Game 3 of their second-round series against the Texas Stars.
"When Jurco came back, we talked about this as an opportunity to be the go-to guy, which he hasn’t been since he was in juniors," Griffins coach Jeff Blashill told Mlive.com. "Last year, the first half of the season he survived, then in the second half he was real good but he wasn’t the go-to guy.
"In Detroit, he wasn’t the go-to guy. Outside of the beginning of this year and now, he hasn’t had the opportunity to be that. We needed him to be one of the go-to guys, and I think he’s done a great job with it."
The Griffins trail the Stars 2-1 in the series but Jurco is hoping to continue to help turn the series back in their favor.
GLENDENING WORKING BUT NOT PLAYING
Glendening, a Grand Rapids native, was no longer eligible to return to play for the Griffins, but they did put him to work.
The Wings’ official Twitter account showed Glendening pushing a laundry cart, helping assistant equipment manager Andrew Stegehuis.
Glendening played in 56 regular-season games with the Wings, scoring one goal and seven assists. He also had one goal in five playoff games.
"It was a bit of a whirlwind," Glendening said after the playoffs ended for the Wings. "I had no idea that I would get any games here and to have the opportunity to play and play some of the games was really a blessing."
Although Glendening earned enough of coach Mike Babcock’s trust to get ice time against other teams’ top players, Glendening feels he has a lot to work on.
"I thought there were parts of my game that were OK this year," Glendening said. "I thought there were a lot of things I needed to be a lot better in. I think this year is huge for me. This summer is huge for me in just gaining confidence. I got to come back and be a better player, for sure."
Specifically, Glendening said he needs to improve his skills with the puck.
"That’s the easiest thing to identify," Glendening said. "I got to be better in the faceoff circle. You always can always work on your skating, you always can work on your shot."
Although Glendening signed a three-year contract extension with the Wings on April 5, he knows that does not guarantee anything.
"Everyone is vying for a job and there’s only 12 jobs for forwards here," Glendening said. "If I want to come back and play I have to be in the best shape and I got to be better. My job can just as easily handed off to someone else."
No matter what happens, this past season was more than Glendening had ever expected.
"Starting last year in Toledo I just figured I had to continue working my way up and make the most of every opportunity I had," Glendening said. "I had way more opportunity this year than I thought I would. Iâm very thankful for that."