The Calgary Flames' first preseason games of the season did not go the way they would have hoped. With dual third period meltdowns and two losses to the Edmonton Oilers both home and away, surely, heads would have to roll.
... Except not really, because it's preseason, and preseason games are ultimately meaningless. Their real functions are to get ready for when the games really matter in the new NHL season, and to whittle players down until the roster is set.
That whittling down is continuing, bit by bit. Andrew Mangiapane, the Flames' sixth round pick from their 2015 draft, is the lone cut of the day. He has been returned to his junior team, the OHL's Barrie Colts.
Mangiapane, who is only 5'10 and 170 lbs., came to camp as one of the Flames' most intriguing prospects. He went undrafted after his 18-year-old season, when the little forward only posted 51 points over 68 games. His 19-year-old season, however, was a different story all together. A sudden rise to 104 points in 68 games and jump to top-10 in OHL scoring was enough to get a team to finally select a draft pick on him - and the Flames are lucky that team was them.
The more the Flames saw of him, the more he impressed. He was one of the Flames' best in Penticton, turning heads with just about every move he made on the ice. It was tough to gauge things from the poor streaming quality of the preseason game in Edmonton, but Mangiapane was out there when the Flames were fighting to equalize with the goalie pulled.
They were unsuccessful, and gave up an empty netter, but hey - with Mangiapane being one of the guys trusted to get the job done, it's the thought that counts. If anything, he has some serious offensive potential.
That said, Mangiapane was going to be in extremely tough to make the Flames' roster this season, and Barrie's season starts this Friday, Sept. 25. Like Pavel Karnaukhov, it only makes sense to return him to his junior team sooner rather than later so he can get a full season in. After all, he's still a developing player, and full time with one team is likely better for him in the long run.
The only junior players left at Flames camp are Mason McDonald, Nick Schneider, and Rasmus Andersson: two goalies, and Mangiapane's fellow Colt who is already one of the Flames' top defence prospects.
Oliver Kylington, the Flames' other remaining 2015 draft pick, may or may not be going to junior; while both Keegan Kanzig and Hunter Smith, entering their 20-year-old seasons, can return to the CHL as overagers, but may begin their professional careers this year.
Mangiapane outlasted most of the junior skaters, though (and really, Andersson is on a completely different level at this point in time). He's got a lot to be proud of - and another 100+ point season in Barrie to work towards.