Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Andrew Mangiapane is about to get expensive

A year ago, the Calgary Flames and restricted free agent Andrew Mangiapane were at a stalemate. Mangiapane, with no arbitration rights, felt he was worth a certain amount. The Flames disagreed and wished for him to take a little bit less. In the end, Mangiapane settled for a deal at a smidge above league minimum salary.

A year later, Mangiapane is about to become pretty expensive.

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Depth guy with potential

Coming out of the 2018-19 season, Mangiapane was an unquestioned success story. In his final season of his entry-level deal, he pushed his way onto the NHL roster and carved out a great role for himself on the fourth line with Derek Ryan and Garnet Hathaway. That trio was unquestionably the team’s best line down the stretch and in the post-season. Heck, Mangiapane scored the team’s only game-winner of the playoffs.

But from a negotiation standpoint, he didn’t have a ton of leverage. He had spent his ELC either as an AHL scorer or an NHL depth guy. He had 54 NHL games under his belt, but only eight goals and 13 points. If you were arguing about what he was going to become, it’d be hard to reach a conclusion outside of “probably an NHL player.”

Betting on himself

With not much leverage to speak of, Mangiapane’s camp settled on a one year, one way deal worth $715,000 – apparently the one way part was a big deal despite Mangiapane requiring waivers to go to the AHL and being a virtual lock to get claimed based on his resume to date. But on a deal that paid him just a nose over league minimum, Mangiapane was super.

Eventually settling into a middle six winger role, often playing with some combination of Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund against top opponents, Mangiapane thrived. He was the team’s top even strength offensive force outside of Lindholm. Under the helm of interim head coach Geoff Ward, only Mark Giordano had better possession stats.

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In his NHL career, Mangiapane has 25 goals and 45 points. He accumulated 17 of those goals and 32 of those points last season. In his entire career, he’s a 0.369 points per game player. If you take only last season as your sample size, he’s a 0.471 points per game player.

Either way, he’s getting a raise this fall when new contracts are negotiated.

Somewhat similar players, at a glance

GP PTS PTS/GP Next Contract
Pavel Buchnevich 179 101 0.564 2 years x $3 million
Brock McGinn 240 76 0.317 2 years x $2.1 million
Artturi Lehkonen 221 80 0.362 2 years x $2.4 million
Danton Heinen 162 81 0.500 2 years x $2.8 million
Andreas Johnsson 82 46 0.561 4 years x $3.4 million
J.T. Compher 156 60 0.385 4 years x $3.5 million
Oskar Sundqvist 144 40 0.278 4 years x $2.75 million
Alex Kerfoot 157 85 0.514 4 years x $3.5 million

For comparison’s sake, Mangiapane has 122 GP and 45 points to date.

Among the two year signees, Mangiapane has a higher per-game production rate than McGinn or Lehkonen did, but appreciably less than Buchnevich or Heinen did. Among the four year signees, Mangiapane has a higher per-game production rate than Sundqvist, but less than Johnsson, Compher or Kerfoot.

Boundary conditions

Let’s be honest, there are no perfect comparisons because Mangiapane is kind of a late bloomer and last season could either be an aberration or a sign that he’s really, really good. (His even strength production and ability to drive play suggests the latter.)

The Flames didn’t throw him into the deep end in pro and while he could’ve played higher in the rotation than the fourth line in 2018-19, he gained a ton of confidence and experience in that role that arguably helped him thrive in 2019-20.

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On a short term deal (two seasons), the conversation probably gets interesting when the cap hit gets around $2.4 million. On a longer deal (closer to four seasons), somewhere around $2.8 to $3 million would be enough to become tantalizing for the Mangiapane camp. Once you get past three seasons, you’re starting to buy potential UFA years.

With the cap flat for the next while, there might be an incentive for both sides to get something longer term done at a reasonable cap number that allows the Flames to maneuver in other ways (and other parts of their line-up). Especially with an expansion draft coming up in a year, cost certainty is something that would be very beneficial for the Flames to have.