North American Hockey Roundup: Anthony Mantha is a stud; The Erie Otters are for real; Providence moves up in NCAA rankings

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When the Detroit Red Wings selected Anthony Mantha with the 20th overall pick in this past year’s draft they got the best pure goal scorer in the 2013 draft class according to numerous scouts.

He certainly has not disappointed so far this season with the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL. Mantha currently leads the QMJHL in scoring with 18 goals and 33 points in 12 games played. Right now, he’s too good to play in the QMJHL. How he fell to #20 is crazy and is something I will never understand. He should be in the AHL with Grand Rapids, but since he’s only 19-years old and plays in CHL he’s not eligible to play in the American League.( I hate that NHL-CHL agreement)  Mantha would benefit from playing in the AHL because there he would learn to be a pro and would play against grown men. In the QMJHL, there is always the thought he could develop bad habits.

I was talking to Jared Abbott the other day about Mantha and he brought up the point that Mantha could be subject to possible trades because the Foreurs just don’t have the talent around him. It’s an interesting point because every QMJHL contender would love to acquire a player of Mantha’s skillset. As it stands right now, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada are the top team in the Q. I don’t expect them to be there at the end of the year but how about a team like the Halifax Mooseheads?

They won the Memorial Cup last season and they got a gift from the hockey god’s with Jonathan Drouin being sent back from Tampa. Nathan MacKinnon is gone and playing a regular shift with the Avalanche and star forward Ryan Falkenham is lost for the season with a hip injury. Could you imagine a line with Mantha and Drouin together and throw in Euro import Nikolaj Ehlers? If I’m the Mooseheads, I would entertain the thought of trading for Mantha. I understand Val-d’Or will want a huge haul for Mantha but the QMJHL is wide open this year and any team could win the league and go onto the Memorial Cup. The acquisition of Mantha for any team would be huge. I think it’s something to keep an eye on this year.

Here is a scouting report of Mantha that Jared Abbott wrote back in May.

After years of being the laughingstock of the OHL, the Erie Otters have turned the corner and have become the talk of the league. It helps that they have phenom and the potential 2015 number one overall pick  in Connor McDavid leading the way. However, they also possess many other skilled players who have changed the losing culture in Erie.

The Otters currently sit atop the OHL’s Western Conference Mid-West Division with a 10-2-1 record and .808 winning percentage. They have won eight straight games and are averaging around 4.5 goals per game.

The aforementioned 16-year old Connor McDavid is currently sixth in overall OHL scoring with 5 goals, 18 assists for 23 points in 13 games. His linemate Connor Brown (TOR, 156th overall, ’12) leads the OHL in scoring with 11 goals, 18 assists for 29 points in 13 games played and overager Dane Fox is tied for the OHL lead in goals with 13. There is no doubt this team can score with anyone in the league. Can they keep up this torrid pace remains to be seen?

They beat the Plymouth Whalers 5-2 last night and have a challenging pair of back-to-backs against London and Peterborough this weekend. Their match up versus London on Friday will be a true measuring stick for this young Erie squad. Andre Burakovsky (WSH, 23rd overall,’13)  deciding to cross the pond from Sweden and play for Erie was huge. I guess having McDavid on your roster helps. I’m not going to get into McDavid right now but this kid is already too good for the OHL at 16-years old. We had Gretzky vs. Lemieux, Crosby vs. Ovechkin, and I firmly believe the next great player vs. player rivalry will be MacKinnon vs. McDavid. He’s that good folks.

Following their 10-4 dismantling of  American International last Saturday, the Providence College Friars moved up to No. 8 in the poll. Their No. 8 ranking is the highest the Friars have been since being ranked No. 8 in November of 2002. Providence is 3-0-0 on the year, including a season-opening sweep of then No. 11 Minnesota State.

They have challenging weekend series as they host No. 3 Miami of Ohio this Friday and Saturday in Providence. The Red Hawks were previously the No. 1 team in the land until splitting a pair of games with North Dakota last weekend. Providence fans will have a better idea of what kind of team they have after this weekend. A win against a top program like Miami could go along for the Friar this season if they have national title aspirations.