Not much has gone right for the Detroit Red Wings this season, but at least Anthony Mantha had developed into a legitimate top line option for the team. Unfortunately, that development will be put on hold for the time being, as head coach Jeff Blashill told reporters today that Mantha will be out four to six weeks with a hand injury. The big forward will undergo surgery today according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.
Mantha injured the hand while fighting with Patrik Nemeth of the Colorado Avalanche, in a game that hearkened back to the old Detroit-Colorado rivalry of the past. A suspension of Tyler Bertuzzi also came out of the game, though his two-game ban is nothing compared to the loss of Mantha for more than a month. The 24-year old has 14 points in 27 games this season and has used his 6’5″ frame to create room for himself and his linemates on a regular basis.
The Red Wings lost the game as well and have dropped to seventh place in the Atlantic Division, a stone’s throw away from the bottom of the Eastern Conference. While the team wasn’t expected to compete for the Stanley Cup this season, plenty of hope grew out of the early performances from some of their young core forwards. Mantha, Bertuzzi, Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, and Michael Rasmussen have all looked like they can be parts of the next wave of Red Wings success, and with others like Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina on the way there was plenty of reason to be excited for the future.
That excitement should still exist, though this outcome is far from ideal. While the team wants Mantha to get involved physically and defend his teammates, losing a big chunk of a developmental season could have tough consequences. The team will have to hope he can jump right back into the action once he returns in the New Year.