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Calgary Flames Andrew Mangiapane during warm-up before facing the Colorado Avalanche during NHL hockey in Calgary on Tuesday November 19, 2019. Al Charest / Postmedia
Andrew Mangiapane celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of their first-round NHL playoff series at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Thursday, April 11, 2019.
Andrew Mangiapane celebrates his goal with teammate Mikael Backlund against the Winnipeg Jets during the third period in Game One of the Western Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 01, 2020 in Edmonton.
There is no way of predicting how a National Hockey League player’s career will unfold.
Or how a sixth-round selection will pan out.
But Brad Treliving knew when the Calgary Flames selected Andrew Mangiapane 166th overall in the 2015 NHL draft that they were fond of the Barrie Colts winger, an undersized kid from Bolton, Ont., and immediately saw his internal drive, work ethic, and compete level.
“When you get into the sixth and seventh rounds of the draft, the odds of those players making it are lower,” noted Treliving. “I’m not going to sit here and profess that we waited until the sixth round and expected him to be a top player. We liked Andrew, he’d gone through one draft already. But what stuck out to us was that he had high-end skill and high-end competitiveness.
“The only thing lacking … was he’s shorter. But he’s got a wide base on him, he’s strong on the puck, it’s hard to take him off the puck. So, yeah, with every pick you make, you hope there’s going to be an NHL future for these guys. But he really dug in … it’s a great story of a guy who continued to work, continue to grind, work on his game, and when you’ve got a fire and a burning desire to compete and get better and work on your craft, you can see the results with it. ”
After inking a prove-yourself contract late into last year’s training camp — a one-year, two-way pact for $715,000 — Mangiapane earned himself a raise after increasing his offensive production, moved up in the lineup from the fourth line to the second line full-time. He played tough minutes against quality players and became a versatile piece to the Flames’ lineup.
On Friday, he inked a two-year deal worth an average annual value of $2.425-million. The restricted free agent had filed for arbitration, which was within his rights this off-season, and had his hearing set with a third-party arbitrator for Oct. 20. Hammering out a deal before then was important to Mangiapane, despite not knowing when the 2020-21 NHL season will start.
Last fall, the 24-year-old, listed at five-foot-10 and 185 pounds, sat out for a portion of the Flames’ 2019-20 training camp as the two sides could not come to an agreement on Mangiapane’s contract. This time was much different.
“I was trying to keep an open mind,” said Mangiapane, calling from his home in Bolton. “At the end of the year, Tre kind of said, ‘Let’s try to get this done quick.’ We waited a few weeks and then started talking about it and really discussing it. I’m thankful we didn’t go to arbitration and all of that. I have to give thanks to my agent (Ritch Winter) and (assistant general manager) Chris Snow and Tre.
“It was a pretty fun (process) and I’m happy it’s over.”
Treliving indicated that the coaching staff has mulled around the idea of playing him more on special teams, as Mangiapane saw some time on the power play at the end of last season and during playoffs while penalty kill could be an area he excels in.
During the 2018-19 campaign, he scored eight goals and five assists and was a plus-11 in 44 games, finding himself on a hard-working fourth line at the end of the season and through five games of the Flames’ first-round playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.
By the end of the 2020 post-season, Mangiapane proved himself to be a bonafide NHL-er who is good enough to play second-line minutes with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund and had two goals and three assists in 10 playoff games.
He also finished the regular season by doubling his goal production (from eight to 17 markers) and going from five assists to 15. The left-winger also skated in 68 games and spent the entire season in the NHL. In total, he’s logged 122 appearances at the big league level.
“It was a good season for me,” Mangiapane said. “I proved I was a full-time NHL-er. Every game I played, I started gaining more confidence. Then, in the last two or three months, I really started to play the way I knew how to play. I have to give thanks to the organization and coaching staff, my teammates, obviously, for giving me the confidence to put me in those situations.”
According to Treliving, there is still room for Mangiapane to grow.
“He’s taken a step this past year, but you’re still talking about a very young player,” he said. “He’s under 200 games in the NHL. It’s not like we’ve seen the finished product here with Mang. If you look at the 2018-19 season, he was playing primarily in a fourth-line role. This season was the first he was playing (at the NHL level) full-time and not in Stockton. He took a big step. Now, as he becomes comfortable in the league, as he continues to grow, he’s going to continue to work at his game.
“I think there’s still lots of upside of him.”
Now, it’s just about playing a waiting game until the 2020-21 season gets going. The NHL is aiming for a Jan. 1 start to the upcoming campaign, but it is, predictably, killing Mangiapane not to be on the ice right now.
“It’s definitely a little bit of a weird situation we’re in right now,” he said with a chuckle. “You can’t do anything, really, about it. I just have to be working out and training hard and preparing myself for the start of the season whenever it comes.”
Even at the National Hockey League level, there is only so much money to go around.
After signing Andrew Mangiapane on Friday, the Calgary Flames’ payroll is around $77.5-million with a little under $4-million in wiggle room before hitting the upper salary cap limit of $81.5-milion. With all but one restricted free agent inked after this week (the Flames have a qualifying offer out to defenceman Oliver Kylington), the Flames are close to finishing retooling their roster for the 2020-21 campaign.
With their goaltending needs shored up between their recent free agent signing of Jacob Markstrom (who is presumably set to be the Flames’ starter) and Louis Domingue (who will likely push David Rittich for the back-up role) along with the signing of right-shot defenceman Chris Tanev, there still could be a need for another reasonably priced sixth or seventh defenceman.
Of course, there is always a need for a right-shot winger.
It all depends on how satisfied Treliving and his staff are with the off-season improvements made to their team and its’ complexion for the upcoming campaign.
“We’re going to continue to look at ways to improve our team,” Treliving said. “We’re going to continue to look at different options and ideas. We’re not done yet. I don’t know what the next (step is). I have an idea of what we’re trying to do. We’ll see if we get there. But we’re going to keep plugging away at it here.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020