When the Red Wings missed the playoffs last year, a big reason was because the crop of young players failed to produce an emerging star.
The group of former top picks struggled to uphold enough consistency to grab the mantle from stars of the past like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who was the team's best player in 2016-17.
"We have a great captain that showed us great examples and we need to follow his footsteps and keep learning. That's the key," forward Anthony Mantha told WXYZ.
This year, Mantha is hungry to prove it's finally his time to take on a bigger role -- and keep it.
"Larkin and I have talked about it. We want to be great players for the future of this team. It starts this season," he said.
Mantha wants to carry the torch as a leader for the next generation of Red Wings, and isn't shying away from it. Across the NHL, the best teams are led by emerging young stars -- or players who were picked high in the draft and have excelled since.
"It would be awesome. I'm gonna be honest," he said of bursting out this year.
In 60 games last season, Mantha registered 17 goals and 19 assists. He said he didn't need to bulk up as much as he did in the summer of 2016 and "that's a good thing."
Leading into last year, Mantha maintained a diet of eight meals a day. He was down to five or six per day this offseason, and thinks that -- combined with time-off -- helped immensely.
"Five months off is good for the off-ice training. I came here in shape, more than last year. I put a lot of work in this summer and I think on the ice it shows. I'm stronger in my one-on-one battles. I didn't lose any speed so that's a great thing," Mantha said.