The Flames probably have not had a draft quite like the 2015 draft in a while. With only five picks and no first rounder, the team scooped up perhaps the most exciting group of prospects this fanbase has seen in a long time. Plausibly, three out of the five selections could see some time in the NHL next year, if not, surely in the immediate future. Heck, one of them already has an NHL game under his belt.
None of the 2015 draftees has been as visible as Andrew Mangiapane, who for the second straight season hit triple digits with the Barrie Colts. The small winger produced a feature’s length of highlight clips this year, and has raised the hopes of Flames fans.
It is no small task to improve on an 104 point season, but Mangiapane was certainly up to it. He burst out of the gate quickly, scoring 19 points in his first 13 games and briefly led OHL scoring in October. In November, he (relatively) cooled off and only scored 13 points in 10 games, falling to 15th in scoring. After serving an eight game suspension in December for a cross check, he had to make up for lost time. He scored 12 points in the five games he played in December, including a six point effort against North Bay. From there on, he exploded. 17 points in 11 January games. 23 in his 11 February games. To finish the season off, he scored 22 in his final nine games to best his previous season’s point total and finish with 106 points. He finished sixth in the OHL and second on his team behind Kevin Labanc.
In the OHL playoffs, Mangiapane continued his strong scoring with 21 points in 15 games. The Colts took the first series against the Mississauga Steelheads in seven, with Mangiapane scoring eight points (3g, 5a). In a sweep against the North Bay Battallion, Mangiapane recorded nine points (4g, 5a). In the third round, the Colts were swept by the Niagara IceDogs, ending Mangiapane’s CHL career. In the Niagara series, his production slipped to just one PPG, scoring four (2g, 2a). With Stockton’s season already over, that was the end of the 2015-16 season for the Bread Eater.
106 points in 59 games is already an impressive stat, but Mangiapane finds a way to make that more impressive.
The number to pay attention to is ES primary points. When looking at junior stats, a field critically understudied and undertracked, a whole lot of noise can be created through powerplay and secondary points. Without reliable possession stats, primary points give us a working idea of who is a driver and who is a passenger. At even strength, primary points are more valuable.
For Mangiapane, over half (56) of his total points were even strength primary points. To put this in perspective, for all CHL forwards who played at least 25 games, Mangiapane was seventh in ES primary points. Considering primary points (at all strengths) on a per game basis, he is sixth across the whole CHL. For the OHL playoffs, 12 of his points were ESPP, which is good for top five in the league. The man can move the puck. If you aren’t convinced yet, he averaged 3.6 shots per game and recorded 213 throughout the course of the season (he also scored eight shorthanded goals this year, in case you needed a bit more convincing).
However, we must also acknowledge some red flags with regards to Mangiapane. While he did have a high shot total, he also had a very high shooting percentage total, coming in at 23.94% (note: I would love to compare this to 2014-15 Mangiapane, but the OHL apparently did not keep shot data for that year). That number dropped to 15.63% in the playoffs, which could explain his decline in production. That number will probably drop a bit more when he moves up a level. With his ability to generate shots, I don’t doubt that he will still be able to put up offence, but nothing like his OHL self.
It is also important to look at historical projection data. 106 points in 59 games can be not as impressive a number when considering age. As someone in his draft +2 year, Mangiapane was going to get the lion’s share of ice time (he played approximately 18 minutes at ES alone per game) and would be expected to put up good numbers. When you have an age and experience advantage over pretty much the entire league, you should be scoring way higher than anyone else.
Looking at NHLe, things still look good. Hitting 40 in his draft +1 year and 47 in his draft +2 signifies that he will likely make the NHL. The only problem is that there are a lot of players with similar trajectories, and not all of them are as elite as we’d like Mangiapane to be. According to theprojectionproject.com, there were 274 players drafted with similar trajectories, and only 74 of them made regular appearances in the NHL.
Excluding his draft season (Mangiapane’s a late bloomer, after all), results are more positive. There are considerably less busts who had seasons similar to Mangiapane’s +1 and +2 seasons, but there aren’t a whole lot of elite, first line NHLers either. The best projection is most likely between the second and third lines. For a sixth rounder, that’s not too bad.
What comes next?
I know a few folks do have Mangiapane penned in on the NHL roster for next season, but let’s temper our expectations here. Mangiapane is almost certainly going to start in the AHL next season, and will likely spend the majority of the year on the farm. I wager he makes a handful of NHL appearances, but he won’t likely breakthrough next year. Maybe 2017-18.
Minus Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, the Flames have almost never brought a player directly up to the big team from the CHL (Dion Phaneuf was the most recent in 05/06, last forward was Dan Quinn in 83/84) without a significant stint in the AHL. Mangiapane is not going to be an exception. As much as we all want to see him in the bigs, it’s just completely unrealistic right now.
But don’t confuse that for negativity. Development is a slow process, and it’s important not to rush. This team is probably going to be adding some NHL ready talent this offseason. We can hold off on Mangiapane for now.