Should Andrew Mangiapane dress for the Flames – and really, what’s the point of recalling him if he doesn’t – the team would have four picks from the 2015 NHL draft in their lineup: three they selected themselves, and a fourth they acquired later on. It’s pretty good for a draft in which they themselves only had five picks.
It’s almost slightly reminiscent of the Flames’ 2011 draft. That year, the team only had five picks: Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Tyler Wotherspoon, Johnny Gaudreau, and Laurent Brossoit. Only one player actually stuck with the Flames – the best of the bunch – but all of their picks from that year have managed to get at least 30 NHL games in, one way or another.
That won’t happen for the Flames’ 2015 draft class: the chance that fifth round pick Pavel Karnaukhov or seventh round pick Riley Bruce ever make the NHL is slim to none.
But the other three picks – second rounders Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington, and sixth rounder Andrew Mangiapane – are all on the roster. All have played in the NHL. And all have great potential to be contributors to the best league in the world, some of which is already being realized.
Andersson has made it first, and it looks like his minor league days are over. Kylington and Mangiapane are both up with the Flames due to injury – Juuso Valimaki for Kylington, and Michael Frolik for Mangiapane – so while their present stays likely aren’t permanent, that doesn’t mean they can’t make a lasting impression that could carry forward. The future is unpredictable, after all: and it was an injury that was the catalyst to Andersson staying in the NHL. (There are just only so many roster spots, the biggest thing holding back the other two.)
Kylington, in just three games with limited minutes so far this season, has already made his impact felt: he doesn’t look one bit out of place. He may be eased into the NHL at this stage, but it’s starting to look like this could be the league he plays in long term sooner rather than later. He’s making his name known for a team that already has a lot of defensive options ahead of him.
It’s possible Mangiapane does the same, as well. The Flames have probably the deepest forward group they’ve had in some time. It’s going to take a lot for Mangiapane to crack it and get moved up the lineup: this isn’t like Kylington learning to defend at the NHL level; as a forward, at some point, Mangiapane is going to need bigger minutes and more chances to score (exactly what Dillon Dube wasn’t getting). It remains to be seen if he can take that next meaningful step forward, but this is probably as good a time as any to see if it’s possible. He didn’t have too much to show for in his first 10 NHL games, but his AHL play indicates it’s appropriate to give him another, hopefully more intensive, shot.
The Flames’ best players are all already pretty much 25 and younger (excluding their captain, of course). The future continues to look bright, but the potential success of three of their picks from a draft three years ago all coming to light at once just helps make the case of how strong their roster can be for years to come.
And then, of course, there’s Noah Hanifin.
The Flames traded away their 2015 first round pick, 15th overall, in part of a package to acquire Dougie Hamilton; it was the biggest reason they only had five picks in that draft year. But not only have they appeared to make the most of their picks, but when deciding to move on from Hamilton, they tried to make something of their asset: and that involved trading for the fifth overall pick in 2015 and the first defenceman of that draft selected.
Consider this: while some teams struggle to build a competent defence, the Flames are looking like they’ve got a pretty good current set of six – and half of them came out of a single draft class from only three years ago.