Ever since being drafted nearly six years ago, Andrew Mangiapane’s game has been steadily improving as he has developed from a rather unknown prospect, to a promising youngster, to a bonafide NHLer, and now to a legitimate play driver at the NHL level.
Mangiapane’s growth has been a treat to watch from a fan perspective as the forward worked his way up through the OHL, AHL, and now NHL ranks to where he is today. After a couple of solid AHL seasons, he became a full time Flame in 2018-19 and showed spurts of greatness, which only increased in regularity as the season continued and culminated with an impressive 32 points in 68 games in 2019-20. Even more impressive was that 31 of his 32 points came at even strength, just one behind team stars such as Sean Monahan.
So, heading into the 2020-21 regular season, expectations were high for the 24 year old as he received a sizable pay raise up to an AAV of $2.425M. He has certainly lived up to those expectations for the most part this season, even if his traditional stats haven’t really reflected his play just yet. While five points in 11 games isn’t amazing, he has started to turn things on lately with four points in his last four games. He deserves a lot more.
He’s also seen his linemates shuffled regularly as he has been moved all over the lineup as he has shown the rare ability to consistently elevate whoever he is with. He is playing fantastic hockey at both ends of the ice, evidenced by his xGF% (expected goals for %) which calculates the ratio of expected goals for and against that he is on the ice for based on chances generated and suppressed. Last year, he led Flames forwards at 53.4% which was second on the team only to Mark Giordano at 53.48%.
This year? He’s not just first on the Flames at 68.21%, that number is good for 2nd in the ENTIRE NHL for players with at least 100 minutes played, only behind Joel Eriksson Ek of the Minnesota Wild. That is absolutely ridiculous. What this tells is that Mangiapane has routinely been generating a high number of chances while limiting the number and quality of ones against. His HDCF% (high danger chances for %) which tells us the percentage of high danger chances for compared to against that he’s been on the ice for is 67.39% again blowing away his teammates. For every high danger chance against, he’s generating two for. Very impressive stuff for a player on a team that has been pretty defensively loose.
In terms of defensive play, I’ll show you this tweet from fellow site writer Shane who I must admit knows his numbers and statistics way better than me and would put my article to shame.
Here is the basic breakdown of the above colours for those who aren’t familiar. The blue means that while he is on the ice, the Flames are suppressing chances/shots from those areas relative to his teammates. It shows that with Mangiapane the Flames are doing a good job keeping opponents out of the slot, while without him teams are getting way more dangerous looks. Obviously with all of these stats we should point out that 11 games is an extremely small sample size, but we saw shades of this last season as well which helps back up the conclusion that it is legit.
We saw Mangiapane playing alongside Mikael Backlund and Milan Lucic last game in a new look sort of 3M line that did a very good job stifling the Oilers, so much that each player had two points and their season highs in ice time. Whether it was just a blip or a long term line remains to be seen, but it was an extremely exciting development which allowed the Flames to roll three solid lines because they chose to dress decidedly not-NHLers on their fourth line (but I digress).
Coupled with his ELITE 5v5 play and getting a regular shift on the PP2 unit this season, I expect Mangiapane’s to start to take off as he gets rewarded for playing the right way and being an extremely reliable two-way forward.
His development has been extremely exciting to watch, and it really feels like it has only just begun at the NHL level. There is no question in my mind that he will be undoubtedly a top six caliber forward at the NHL level by the end of the season if he’s not already there. Not bad for a 6th round pick on an overager.