Calgary Flames

Appreciating Andrew Mangiapane’s best season yet

The Calgary Flames season is now long in the rearview mirror. As the first round of the playoffs conclude, all fans are left with is the memory of a disappointing season. But not all is lost, and the outlook for the future is not all bleak.

Among the few bright spots this season was Andrew Mangiapane, who continued to prove he is one of the top forwards on the team. His hard work and consistency have allowed him to stand out among the struggling Flames forward groups of the last two seasons, and his excellence won’t slow down anytime soon, as he’s just 25 years old.

His emergence as a legitimate goal-scoring threat, combined with his defensive responsibility, make him a versatile threat the team can deploy in any situation. This past season, his 18 goals put him behind only Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm on the team, who had 19 each. He was also eighth in assists with 14—all of them primary—putting him in fourth place on the team in overall points.

His point pace from this season projected over a full 82 games would have seen him score 26 goals and 21 assists, totaling 47 points. If he had kept that pace over the length of a full season, his previous career highs would have been easily surpassed. By the end of his 56 games this year, he had already tied his previous record for points in a season.

Mangiapane’s even strength production

The big difference between Mangiapane and those ahead of him on the point-scoring leaderboard? Power play time. While the team’s top three scorers, Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk all saw over 170 minutes on the man advantage, with Gaudreau even eclipsing the 190 minute mark, Mangiapane played just 101:10 on the power play.

In fact, among players with at least 100 minutes played, he was 24th in the entire league in even strength goals per 60 minutes. That wedges him right between Luke Kunin and David Pastrnak, and two spots ahead of Connor McDavid. On top of that, his playmaking took a step too, with his primary assist rate jumping significantly compared to his previous seasons in the league. Primary assists are generally considered much more important than secondary assists when evaluating players as they lead more directly to goals.

Considering his even strength excellence, it may be time to give him regular minutes with the top power play group. Using this visual, created by Micah Blake McCurdy of HockeyViz, we can also see his strong impact on expected goal rates. Not only have his point totals improved each year since he joined the league, his play driving abilities are outstanding.

The dark red in front of the net in the offensive zone shows that while Mangiapane is on the ice, the team’s scoring chances are concentrated in the slot. At the other end of the rink, the opposite is true. His defensive impact shows that he can substantially reduce the number of attempts against the Flames coming from the slot area.

All around, Mangiapane proved himself as a vital even strength contributor for the team.

Mangiapane’s penalty kill impact

It doesn’t end there either. For the first time in his career, Mangiapane was tasked with minutes on the penalty kill. Some players may have struggled with the added responsibility, but Andrew Mangiapane is not just some player.

Among the ten Flames players who played significant minutes on the penalty kill, he ranked fourth in Corsi against, high-danger corsi against, and goals against, as well as fifth in expected goals against. All stats are on a per sixty minutes of ice time basis, taken from NaturalStatTrick (with Mangiapane’s team rank in brackets).

Andrew Mangiapane91.5 (4)16.7 (4)5.8 (5)6.4 (4)

That means that in his first kick at the can, Mangiapane joined a pretty solid penalty killing group (the Flames were 15th is PK% this season), and fit right in. While these defensive metrics aren’t the best of the group, they are solid. Couple that with the offensive threat he brings to the penalty kill, and his value is clearer than ever.

Andrew Mangiapane15.1 (4)5.6 (1)1.36 (2)0.8 (3)

Compared to his teammates, Mangiapane brings decent defense to the penalty kill, not exactly leading the way in stifling the opponent’s attack, but holding his own. Where he truly shines is offensively.

While having those already strong numbers defensively, it’s the rush threat that Mangiapane brings that makes his shorthanded play even better. His quickness and high level anticipation allow him to turn play against the attackers when the opportunity presents itself.

His excellence at all strengths is a testament to what a complete player he is, and that reality is reflected in his advanced metrics.

Mangiapane’s xGAR breakdown

Using expected goals above replacement (xGAR) data, we can break down which components of the game Mangiapane excels at. I chose to use expected goals instead of regular goals above expected (GAR) simply because GAR can be heavily influenced by a player, or his teammates’, ability to finish their chances, meaning xGAR is less influenced by shooting luck.

The following image, courtesy of Evolving-Hockey, is a breakdown of Mangiapane’s performance in 2021 in which the major components of the expected goals above replacement stat are separated by colour. The categories are even strength offense and defense, power play offense, short handed defense, and penalties drawn and taken.

Wedged between Sam Reinhart and Cale Makar in the 97th percentile, Mangiapane has positive results in every single GAR category, both offensive and defensive, except one. That teeny-tiny blight on the Mangiapane name is a value of -0.1 penalties drawn. Not too shabby overall.

Thank you, Mangiapane

As a sixth round pick, he was deemed undersized and looked over in his first year of draft eligibility. Yet now the man known as Eat Bread has officially made it. All his hard work in junior, and even more hard work in Stockton, followed finally by even harder work in Calgary has paid off big time. Elite at even strength, a threat on the penalty kill, and always tenacious on the ice, Mangiapane is the type of player everyone wants to cheer for.

Next season will be the last of his current contract, and afterwards he will be due for a well-deserved pay raise. When that time comes, hope that the team is willing to roll out the Brinks truck, because there’s no doubt about it, he will be worth it.

Cover Photo By: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

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