Andrew Mangiapane, one of Calgary’s two restricted free agent “holdouts” from the off-season, finally got a one-year deal sorted out on Sept. 15. He was a little bit late for training camp, but Mangiapane isn’t concerned about his readiness for the season.
“I don’t think it will hurt me. You have a couple weeks here to get your legs underneath you for the start of the season,” Mangiapane told the Calgary Sun. “I think that I’ve proven myself that I can play in this league and that I can be an everyday NHL player and hopefully be a great NHL player. It’s just working hard in camp, getting your shots in, getting your reps, getting your timing down, and then I’ll be ready to play.”
After establishing himself in the final half of last season as an NHL regular, it made sense for Mangiapane to get whatever deal done he could in order to hit the ground running with the team. Though his two-way deal probably isn’t ideal, it’s better for his long-term career that he can have a pre-season under his belt before entering the regular season.
“I think my first couple of games, I was kind of testing the waters. It’s not a good thing to say, I guess, but I think that’s just more my personality,” Mangiapane told the Calgary Sun. “But after that, you have to just kind of jump into it and have that swagger and have that confidence, and it went a long way for me when I started to think like that. The whole confidence thing, I think that plays a big part in your game. Because I know I can make plays here and there. I believed in myself that way, and I think I showed it in the later parts of the season and playoffs.
Speaking of RFAs, Matthew Tkachuk, of course, is still unsigned with under two weeks left to go until the season. Tkachuk, like other high-profile RFAs Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, and Patrik Laine, could end up sitting out the first few games of the season before getting something done. Tkachuk is now practicing with his OHL team, the London Knights.
Tkachuk’s holdout could create an opening for somebody like Ryan Lomberg. Lomberg, a high-energy checking forward, has played 11 games with the Flames over the past couple of seasons. He’s one of the fringe forwards in the mix to replace Garnet Hathaway as a grinder type on the roster.
“I know I can play here now. I’ve done it the last couple of years,” Lomberg told the National Post. “It’s just when I get in the games, when I get the opportunities, to show them that I can help them win. I want to be here. It sucked to watch what happened last year (in the playoffs), and I think I can help them. I just have to make it evident to them that I can stick and be a big part of their team and ultimately help them win.
Austin Czarnik had a difficult first season with the Flames last year. He posted just 18 points in a 54-game season that saw him sitting in the press box more than he’d have hoped. Czarnik says the experience has made him a better pro.
“What I went through last year, it was tough,” Czarnik told the National Post. “Now, I know how to learn from it, how to carry myself, how to be a better pro every single day.
“It’s something that, growing up and in college, I never had to deal with. So I had to learn from it, and I think have. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s these moments where you learn about who you are — and when you can understand who you are, I think it just helps you grow as a person and it helps you grow as a player.
Czarnik took a shot off his ankle in the dying moments of a pre-season game in Victoria earlier in the week. Fortunately, the x-rays came back negative and Czarnik felt fine. He’s another player who could benefit from a Tkachuk absence.