48Andrew Mangiapane
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

2020-21 Reasonable Expectations: Andrew Mangiapane

Andrew Mangiapane emerged as one of the Flames’ most intriguing players in 2019-20. He gradually took over Michael Frolik’s role on the second line as the season progressed, seamlessly replacing the Czech veteran’s defensive and offensive presence for much less money.

Of course, Mangiapane no longer costs just $715,000 against the salary cap, but he’s still a bargain with his new $2.425 million AAV contract. Now, can he take another step and spend the entire season in the top six? Let’s take a look.

How he got here

Mangiapane probably should’ve been picked in the 2014 NHL Draft after putting up 24 goals and 57 points in 68 games for the Barrie Colts in 2013-14, but all 30 teams passed on reserving his rights. He probably should’ve gone higher in 2015, too, after he exploded with 43 goals and 104 points in 2014-15 as a relatively young overager. The Flames picked Mangiapane in the sixth round, 166th overall, of the 2015 Draft.

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After one final year with Barrie as a 19-year-old (shocker: he scored 51 goals and 106 points in 59 games), Mangiapane turned pro with the Stockton Heat in 2016-17. He quickly emerged as a key player for the Heat, finishing fourth in team scoring with 41 points and second in goals with 20. He returned to the Heat in 2017-18 and, once again, took another step, posting 21 goals and 46 points in just 39 games and earning a 10-game call-up to the Flames.

Finally, in 2018-19, Mangiapane spent most of the season in the NHL. The Flames recalled him after he spent 15 games in Stockton to start the year and, after a slow start in Calgary, he scored his first NHL goal on Feb. 9, 2019 against the Vancouver Canucks. He finished the season with eight goals and twelve points in his last 30 games. He added one goal in the Flames’ first round loss to the Colorado Avalanche and it was a beauty.

Mangiapane found most of his success in 2018-19 on a line with Derek Ryan and Garnet Hathaway, the latter of whom left for the Washington Capitals as an unrestricted free agent that summer. To start 2019-20, Mangiapane floated around the lineup a little bit before eventually finding a rhythm down the stretch on a line with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund. As part of that line, he scored nine goals and 15 points in his final 19 games of the regular season and chipped in with two goals and five points in 10 playoff games.

2020-21 expectations

Should Andrew Mangiapane be consistently used as a top six forward in 2020-21?

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The short answer: yes.

The long answer: yes, and he should be used on the top line. The Flames should probably stop stacking Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, and Sean Monahan all on one line. It would probably be better for the overall depth of the team for the Flames to build a top-six using Gaudreau and Monahan on one line and Lindholm and Tkachuk on another.

Mangiapane is a no-brainer to slot in as a “third man” on one of those two units but he should be anything but an afterthought. He consistently excels in all areas of the ice. He’s great at carrying the puck into the offensive zone. He’s versatile on the rush. He’s a good passer and creates lots of dangerous chances.

Tkachuk and Mangiapane have already shown great chemistry and it would be fun to watch them play together on a top line this season. They’re both highly competitive and energetic players who possess high character and scoring abilities. They already spent a lot of time together last year along with Backlund and, while it wouldn’t be surprising to see that line remain a unit in 2020-21, Flames coach Geoff Ward has mused about returning Lindholm to his “natural position” at centre this year.

A Tkachuk/Lindholm/Mangiapane line has the potential and the collective talent to be dominant at both ends of the ice. Mangiapane was the Flames’ best even-strength skater in both zones last year, and he might be able to take another step offensively in 2020-21 if slotted next to the Flames’ two top goal-scorers from 2019-20.

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On Friday, we projected that Mangiapane would score 16 goals and 34 points in a 56-game 2020-21 season. If things go his way, that could easily turn out to be a very conservative estimate by the end of the year.