Mikyla Grant-Mentis is the reigning MVP of the PHF (NWHL) and is a core player — if not the face of — the league’s sole Canadian franchise, the Toronto Six. She’s accomplished both of these feats despite playing in just nine regular season and two postseason games as a pro. It’s not every day you have a league MVP who has played less than 10 games across three seasons. But this is professional women’s hockey we’re talking about, so here we are.
We haven’t seen much of Grant-Mentis as a pro but what we have seen has been pretty exciting. She has definitely left an impression. Through her first eight regular season games with the Buffalo Beauts and the Toronto Six, she picked up 12 points, 10 of which were primary. Oh, and she started off this season with a three-assist masterpiece in Toronto’s win over the Beauts. If we include her postseason hockey, she’s averaging 1.72 Pts/GP in 11 games. That would put her between Hilary Knight (1.78 Pts/GP) and Alex Carpenter (1.71 Pts/GP) for third all-time in PHF/NWHL history.
Yeah, that’s pretty good. But can she keep it up?
Generally speaking, it’s advisable not to get too carried away when dealing with small sample sizes but Grant-Mentis’ success isn’t coming out of left field. It should also be noted that she’s shooting 16.27 percent. That is undoubtedly high, but not unheard of. That’s on par with the career shooting percentages of Kate Leary (16.33%), Jonna Curtis (16.2%), and Emily Janiga (prior to the 2021-22 season) and all of them have played at least 25 games. The hottest shooter in PHF/NWHL history is Taylor Accursi, who entered the 2021-22 campaign with 20 Sh% in 52 games — that, for the record, is bonkers.
Long before she made the jump to pro with the Beauts, Grant-Mentis played in the shadow of Darryl Watts on two different PWHL teams — the Toronto Aeros and the Mississauga Chiefs. Her numbers were promising but were dwarfed by the eventual winner of the 2018 Patty Kaz. She then packed her hockey bag and went to Merrimack, a program that had one season of experience under its belt before Grant-Mentis arrived as a freshman in 2016-17.
She led Merrimack in scoring in her freshman season in 2016-17 and had nearly twice as many points as Merrimack’s second-highest scorer in her senior seaosn 2019-20 — for the record, that player is Czech national team player Dominika Laskova. Grant-Mentis finished her college career with an average scoring rate of 0.85 Pts/GP and, to be frank, didn’t get enough attention or press for what she was doing on a team that finished with a winning record in just one of her four years there.
To put Grant-Mentis’ scoring rate in college into perspective, no other current PHF player under the age of 26 was that productive in NCAA D1 hockey. For some more context, Abby Roque averaged 1.09 Pts/GP in that same window for Wisconsin and Tereza Vanišová averaged 1.0 Pts/GP in that same period for Maine.
At Merrimack, Grant Mentis’ production and iCF relative to her teammates — she took 18.38% of her team’s even-strength shot attempts in her senior year — was exceptional but she played for a new program overshadowed by conference titans like BU, BC, and Northeastern. Merrimack never finished higher than fifth in Hockey East during MGM’s time there. As a result, she was overlooked by many — myself included — before she made her professional debut at the tail end of the 2019-20 season, just after finishing her senior campaign in Hockey East.
So, just how good is Grant-Mentis? In my opinion, she’s elite. She can play center and the wing, she’s a dynamic puck carrier, she can kill penalties, and she makes her teammates better. She’s proven both at the collegiate and pro levels that she is capable of creating offense for herself and for her linemates. On top of all of that, she’s still just 23. So, the best is yet to come. She may not be picking up three assists every night this year, but a lot would have to go wrong for her to not be in the MVP conversation. She’s just that good..
The Mikyla Grant-Mentis success story raises a lot of questions. Could her production relative to her teammates in NCAA DI conference be something of a predictor for success in post-collegiate hockey? Do high-volume shooters in college tend to have success in the pros? Is she more effective at center or wing? What will her underlying numbers look like in a longer PHF/NWHL season compared to other established pros in their prime like Kennedy Marchment?
And, finally, why on earth isn’t she preparing for her Olympic debut with Team Canada?