Setting a timetable for Andrew Mangiapane

Let’s appreciate Andrew Mangiapane.

When talking about the winger, I always like to defer to his junior teammate Brendan Lemieux. In their draft years, Lemieux scored 53 points in 65 games while Mangiapane scored 51 in 68. Lemieux was an early second round pick, while Mangiapane was passed over. In their draft +1 year, Lemieux scored 60 points in 57 games. Mangiapane scored 104 in 68. That was enough to get scouts’ attention, but Mangiapane still wasn’t picked up until the sixth round, fortunately by some very good folks.

I don’t mean to pick on Lemieux, he’s just a very convenient target to point out the dumb drafting biases that still exist in hockey. Despite having 14 more OHL games (209 total for Lemieux) on Mangiapane, he only had 189 points. Mangiapane had 210 in his final 127 games. Even with a six-game lead on the Breadman in the AHL, Lemieux still has three fewer points.

If you’re a draft nerd, it’s quite infuriating that Lemieux gets the benefit of the doubt for the usual reasons – good bloodlines, big size (even though he isn’t that big), “hard to play against” – while Mangiapane, who is extremely promising, gets passed on. Even after a 100-point season in the CHL’s toughest league, he was still overlooked until the sixth round.

The point is that Mangiapane is good, and has a really good chance of being good in the NHL. Based on his junior performances, many thought he could be up in the NHL for a significant chunk of this season. That hasn’t happened yet, but it does beg the question: when should we expect to see him?

The historical method

NHLe, the premier stat for prospect projections, offers more than just placing a prospect’s stats into context. Based on the performances of players that tracked similarly to the studied prospect, we can accurately offer a projection of how a prospect will perform. That is what we will do for Mangiapane.

Based on data from theprojectionproject.com, we looked at players who had similar or better years to Mangiapane’s draft +1 year when he recorded a 40 NHLe. We’re trying to cast a wide net. There were 50 such players who made the NHL (26 did not, and 14 of those guys are all too-early-to-tell players):

mangiapane

The asterisks signify that a player did not reach the NHL in a certain year because of a lockout (only applied to players who went to the NHL immediately after a lockout ended). The average distance from draft year to NHL arrival was first calculated without adjusting (a true method, as they got another year of development time without being paid by the owners) and an adjusted one, subtracting a year for players affected by 2004-05 lockout, and 0.5 for those affected by the 2012-13 lockout.

So what did the findings say? Players who recorded a 40+ NHLe in their draft +1 year took, on average, 2.36 years to make the NHL from their original draft year. Adjusting that number for lockouts, it only took 2.16 years.

Let’s further adjust that number. Let’s remove all of the players drafted in the top 10. The bonafide bluechippers who were probably only held out of the NHL because of college or Europe, and for whom a 40+ NHLe in the draft +1 year isn’t a huge surprise. When we do that, we have 34 players remaining who took an average of 2.79 seasons raw and 2.54 adjusted. A bit slower, but not far from the original parameters.

However, let’s take another huge step forward by cutting out all players drafted in the first round. By doing this, we reduce the list to players who are more like Mangiapane: an alright draft year followed by an explosive second year. When we make that adjustment, it takes 3.64 years to make the NHL, or an even 3.5 lockout adjusted.

One more wrench in the engine: since Mangiapane has put up back-to-back dominant seasons, we should consider the arrival dates of players who put up an NHLe of 40+ in their draft +1 year and a 47+ NHLe in their draft +2 years. Adjusting for that, we have only 12 players: Spezza, Heatley, Huberdeau, Vanek, Strome, Domi, Schwartz, Parise, Perry, Downie, Saad, and Stastny. Those guys took 1.79 years to get to the NHL, and 1.4 if you adjust for the lockouts.

That offers an interesting perspective: what if Mangiapane is already ready? However, we must consider that if we apply previous adjustments, only two (Saad and Stastny) remain. Certainly not enough to offer a conclusive arrival date.

So we have our parameters. Based on history, Mangiapane could optimistically be an NHL-calibre player by the halfway point this year. However, it is more likely that he takes another year of development before he’s ready.

But…

There’s a few hurdles in his way, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Mangiapane, despite historical evidence, is not likely to play in the NHL this year. The team he currently plays for just sent three of their best (Vey, Shinkaruk, Hathaway) to the NHL to cover for injuries. In the next few weeks, all three will return to Stockton. If he’s going to replace a current Flame on the basis of injury, it’s going to have to be because of some catastrophe.

If he’s going to replace someone on the basis of merit, Mangiapane has to be doing something really impressive. No one is going to replace Gaudreau and Tkachuk on the left side. Ferland can probably be counted among the locks based on his play so far, which leaves only Bouma vulnerable. As an established vet who “adds” other things to the game, he probably isn’t moving unless he really puts up a stinker. And then Mangiapane would have to beat out Shinkaruk, another tough ask.

All of this is ignoring that the Flames probably want to keep Mangiapane down for the year so he can adjust to pro hockey. If you don’t need him up, don’t bring him up. Mangiapane is probably going to need another year or such of development, speaking both from a historical and a gut feeling perspective. He’s going to be a good player, but just not now.

  • jakethesnail

    In other news…
    Troy Brouwer will be playing RW for Johnny and Monny tonight against Minnesota! ABOUT TIME A CHANGE WAS MADE!

    Mathew Tkachuk looks ready to play tonight….

    • Albertabeef

      That is why he was signed, right? Just shows how bad the team has been managed so far this season. Maybe we can see if it was a quality signing after all. Don’t get the idea of playing a fourth line grinder with those two. Those two have been struggling since Jiri’s groin injury.

  • brodiegio4life

    still can’t believe scouts and teams use size as a main factor when drafting. Size means almost nothing when drafting. Thankfully the flames (other than Burke) seem to know that.

    • jupiter

      I dunno. Calgary is drafting high skill small players but they are doing it in later rounds. Size matters to every team.

      They had Byron and let him walk. GGRRR.I think they use these picks as the best asset available.

    • Ogie Oglethorp

      Sorry but this is objectively false. Size means almost nothing? You don’t think its easier to do certain things when the D men are all 180lbs instead of 210lbs? If you really believe that, you are objectively, factually and 100% wrong.

      This dismissive attitude is equally as dumb as passing over a guy entirely over size. The pendulum needs to swing away from overweighting size, but “size means almost nothing” is the exact same problem just the other end of the pendulum.

      I think size needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. And its why scouts have always been, and will always be actual humans with eyeballs, not computers or analytics experts checking the stats lines from afar.

      My view is that ALL players need to deliver at the NHL before judgement is passed. Big guys can dominate skinny teenagers in junior and then look like pilons in the NHL as easy as small guys can dangle around skinny teenagers and then get crushed in the NHL. This is why scouting is hard. And prospects are just prospects until they make the big league AND deliver.

        • Ogie Oglethorp

          That article is beyond logically flawed. “small players are not unlikely to make the NHL, rather they’re unlikely to get drafted and therefore unlikely to make the NHL.” WHAT?

          Players that can’t skate or see are also unlikely to be drafted and therefore unlikely to make the NHL.

          I accept the point that the draft is HARD and full of risk no matter what. But if you think size has nothing to do with it you are completely wrong. Sorry you are. Or you have never played hockey.

          Take 2 identical players. Identical skill, skating, hockey IQ and passion. One is 6’2″, the other 5’8″. The 6’2″ guys wins 100 times out of 100. Fact.

          Now this is of course dumbing it down, because no 2 players are identical in those skills and intangibles.

          If your point is that scouts have a hard job and need to judge each player on a case by case basis I agree 100%. But if you say size means nothign, sorry you are wrong (and have probably never played high level hockey).

          As stated before, until a player sticks AND produces in the NHL, vs the biggest, baddest and best in the world, he is nothing but a prospect. And his size is a factor until proven otherwise.

          • I’m not sure you really read the linked article because every assertion you’ve made was debunked by the article. Success rates between big and small players are almost negligible. It makes almost no difference in predicting future success, so it is a nonfactor. Prioritizing size is more likely to hurt you than help you.

            Sure, in your scenario, a big player might be able to whip a small player based on his phsical advantage. That is one moment in hockey, almost incomprable to a career. This is the flawed logic, not Byron’s, that dictates that size is important

            Draft history can point you to the pitfalls of drafting size over skill. Darryl Sutter’s time with the Flames should be enough evidence.

          • Ogie Oglethorp

            I read the article. To sum it up it says:

            1) NHL teams draft more big players
            2) players in each drafted size group are equally as likely to make the NHL

            Fine. This is great, I agree. BUT… this is textbook statistical bias.

            It says that less than 50 players under 5’8″ were drafted. And 2500+ over 6′. This is the flaw. You are applying analytical criteria to an already filtered group. You are discounting the fact that the scouts did a good job in only drafted 50 players under 5’8″.

            Sorry, it’s just logically flawed. IMO. We may have to agree to disagree.

            PS – I completely agree on the pitfalls of drafting for size. The Darryl Sutter years etc. It’s dumb to pick a player who is INFERIOR because he is big. Size is just 1 piece of the puzzle. But completely dismissing size is silly.

          • Uhh, 6′ is the general cutoff for short/tall in the NHL. If you want proof of this, look at how a scouting report will describe a player who is above and below the threshold. Of players under 6′, Byron had over 1200 of them. That’s a really, really good sample size.

            And I understand that you believe that if all things are equal, take the bigger player, but there’s absolutely no precedent for that. Bigger players don’t become better players. You can cut the data anyway you want, but you’ll end up with similar percentages to what Byron found. Size is just noise when considering a player.

      • brodiegio4life

        size does mean nothing if you can’t shoot pass skate or think the game as well as someone who is smaller. Guys like nick Ritchie who have a quarter of the skill gaudreau has go top 10 because how big they are while an extremely more effective player like gaudreau goes 4th round because teams are afraid of his size… it’s a joke

    • calgaryfan

      I would not be so sure about the Flames, I think Treliving has more Burke in him than we know. He has mentioned in interviews the flames need to get bigger. I have not heard him mention they need to get faster but I may have missed that interview. While the Flames get bigger and slower the league gets quicker.

  • Albertabeef

    However there have been a multitude of Flames prospects who perfermed well in the CHL nut that hasn’t transpired at the pro level. Guys like Mitch Wahl, who never quite make the adjustment. Not sure if that’s just zither Flames ineptitude to develop prospects after they leave junior. It’s been this way for 30+ years. Who was the last farm player to make a big splash? Maybe Marty St Louis? We didn’t even develop him lol. I hope this is the time it’s turning around. It might help to have our farm coach as a former WHL coach. So far I’m not 100% sold but the farm seems ok right now.

    • FL@med

      Not like we let Wahl stay for long…. He only played 32 games with us (All in the AHL) 4 points in his first 4 games, and then 6 points in 12 playoff games… Something tells me that he wasn’t used effectively the next season… Cant believe we let him outta our hands

  • Albertabeef

    Ok the closest comparison I can think of is Lemieax and Gretzky for the big small comparison. If you want two equally skilled equal hockey IQ but two different sizes. Mario was 6’4″ and Wayne was 5’10”. So anti oiler biased aside which would you rather have? I’ll take Mario still if health was equal too.