Our annual countdown carries on with Ryan Mantha landing at the #24 spot.
Yesterday saw an up-and-coming goaltender kick off the list with Oliver Rodrigue and today we find ourselves looking at a player who has had a rather irregular career path to date.
Before we get into it, lets take a look at how the panel voted on Mantha:
Who Is Ryan Mantha?
At first glance, Ryan Mantha might seem like your typical run of the mill defensive defenceman. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers after playing 3 low scoring seasons in the USHL.
His scouting report at the time of his draft pegged him as a hulking defender who could dish out hits as well as receive them. Standing 6 foot 4 and 208lbs at the time, I don’t doubt this assement, but there was a glaring problem with that analysis. The market for this brand of defenceman was declining in 2014 and guys like Mantha were going to have to develop an offensive game if they were going to make it in the NHL.
After getting drafted, Mantha moved to the OHL to play with the Niagara IceDogs. His first two seasons were an improvement as Mantha upped his offensive output by putting up two 25pt seasons. This, however, would only be the beginning for Mantha as he would put up 58pts in his third season...putting him on the radar of many amateur scouts.
For whatever reason, Mantha became a free agent after his breakout year and, in March of 2017, the Edmonton Oilers inked the Clarktson, Michigan native to a 3-year entry level contract.
Mantha’s first year with the Oilers organization lasted 41 games in Bakersfield before tragedy struck. A blood clot caused him to lose vision in his left eye. This type of condition is known to cause permanent vision loss in some cases, so it was definitely something that endangered Mantha’s professional career.
the injury caused him to miss all of last season as he continues to rehab and hopefully regain complete vision.
Why at 24?
Ryan Mantha is a defenceman that has grown from a shut-down defender to a potential 2-way defender. While his injury does prove to be very significant and he has not yet returned from it, there is potential that he still becomes something at the professional level.
As a right-shot defenceman there is always a chance that he could push onto an NHL roster if he is able to return to action. Mantha’s short time in the AHL showed that he is a capable puck-mover with foot-speed concerns.
He may seem like a long-shot right now, with all the injury business, but if he able to come back I would keep an eye on him.
Ryan Mantha is only the first of MANY defenceman that will be featured on this year’s list! The Oilers have been doing a fantastic job at restocking the blueline the past few years and this list will go a long way in proving it!
Who do you think will be the next defenceman to show up? Leave a comment below and let me know!