The Calgary Flames have often diversified their prospect base and gone outside the proverbial box. While the team has recently grabbed a bunch of big, big dudes in the NHL Draft, they’ve also frequently grabbed smaller guys throughout their team’s history.
In 1987 it was Theoren Fleury. In 1998 it was college free agent Martin St. Louis. In 2011 it was Johnny Gaudreau. In 2015? OHL sniper Andrew Mangiapane of the Barrie Colts, their sixth round pick in the draft. (For size reference, I’m 5’11” and Mangiapane is the same height as I am when he’s wearing skates.)
Mangiapane was one of the guys that quietly performed well at development camp. The experience seemed to cement a few things into his mind regarding things he wants to adjust in his game. Getting experience against the really big bodies in the Flames prospect base undoubtedly helped.
“I still got to grow and kind of get bigger and stronger, but I’ve come this far,” said Mangiapane. “I’ve just got to stick to my game. I’ve come this far, something I guess is working. I’ve just got to play my game and do what I can out there.”
Like fellow Flames pick Hunter Smith, Mangiapane was selected in his second year eligible for the NHL Draft. Like Smith, his offensive numbers were a lot better in his second season of eligibility. He explains that he didn’t make a lot of adjustments to his playing style when he began piling up points this season.
“I didn’t change too much,” shared Manigapane. “I knew that if I played my game, and I’m a small player so I mean I’m not really scared of the big guys, I just had to prove myself. My first year, I kinda came outta nowhere, so I think it was a big surprise that I guess I put up points in my rookie year. I guess I had to get two years under my belt to get picked at the draft.”
In terms of influences, Mangiapane’s are what you might expect for a smaller player: Flames sniper Johnny Gaudreau and the recently-retired Martin St. Louis.
“I definitely watch Johnny Gaudreau, and St. Louis growing up and I watched him play Gaudreau, so I was pretty happy when I got drafted to Calgary and maybe get to meet him,” said Mangiapane. “I guess I watched those two growing up, even [Tyler] Johnson there, and you know, I try to simulate my game like them being smaller players.”
Of Calgary’s smallest players, one that has made his way to the NHL without really piling up points has been Paul Byron. Often praised by Flames head coach Bob Hartley for “playing big,” Byron has found himself in a really useful complementary role by playing fearless against larger opposition. Mangiapane hopes to prove himself similarly as he works his way towards playing professional hockey.
“Being small, you can’t be afraid against the big guys,” said Mangiapane. “Every time I go out there, I feel like size doesn’t really matter. So I mean, that’s what I’m trying to show to the Calgary Flames organization here. Size doesn’t really matter, and I’ve just got to keep playing my game.”