When the Calgary Flames’ regular season finally ended—midway through the first round of the playoffs—three skaters went over to Latvia to play in the IIHF World Championship: Andrew Mangiapane for Canada, Connor Mackey for USA, and Nikita Nesterov for Russia. They joined a couple of prospects in the Flames organisation with the duo of Emilio Pettersen and Ilya Solovyov competing for Norway and Belarus, respectively.
At the tournament’s conclusion, Mangiapane literally led Canada to the gold medal, also earning himself the title of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship MVP. A bit of a mouthful to say in full, but nothing unusual for Mr. Eat Bread himself. In Mangiapane’s first international tournament of his career, picking up the MVP after missing the first three games is quite the achievement. So how did the Flames’ bunch fare in the World Championship? Let’s see how they all did.
Mangiapane leads Canada to gold
Well, if the world didn’t know who Mangiapane was before the tournament, they certainly know who he is now. The forward came into the tournament and joined a Team Canada that had a 0-3-0 record to open the competition, having lost to Latvia, USA, and Germany before his arrival.
Since being on the roster and injected right into Canada’s top line by head coach Gerrard Gallant, Mangiapane turned the tournament around for Canada, which then had a 6-0-1 record en route to the gold medal. Mangiapane’s only defeat came at the hands of Finland in the IIHF-style five-round shootout right before the quarterfinals.
Nevertheless, Canada picked themselves up and won three straight, defeating the ROC in the quarters, then USA with a rematch in the semis, then finally in overtime in a rematch against Finland for the gold medal. Earlier in the tournament, we polled fans on which Flames WC performance would be most important for Calgary’s future and Mangiapane was the runaway favourite. At that point, no one could have guessed he’d eventually end up winning the MVP, but he’s here now, and the fans were absolutely right.
Out of the seven goals Mangiapane scored, four of them were game winning goals. He absolutely deserved the MVP award and he comes back to the Flames with a strong case for bigger responsibilities and more minutes. Congratulations to Mangiapane and the rest of Team Canada on the tournament victory, but mostly Mangiapane.
Mangiapane’s World Championship Stats
Mackey picks up a bronze with USA
Mackey suited up for seven games for USA, where he picked up one assist throughout the tournament. Similar to Mangiapane, the World Championship was also the 24-year-old’s first international experience. The American defender had previously played in the USHS system, the USHL, and the NCAA before coming up to the AHL and NHL as a part of the Flames organisation.
While he wasn’t a standout on the team, he brings back additional experience that he can build off of as he tries to earn a more consistent role with the Flames. He’ll work towards getting a new contract this summer as a restricted free agent, and while he does have arbitration rights, he doesn’t have much bargaining power with his limited NHL contributions.
Mackey’s World Championship Stats
Nesterov and the ROC exited in quarterfinals
The Russians entered the tournament with a new jersey and new team name, being called the ROC, short for the Russian Olympic Committee due to a ruling by the Court of Arbitration in Sport.
After putting up zero goals and four assists with the Flames this past season in 38 games, Nesterov came into the tournament and scored twice for the ROC while also adding two assists in just five games. Nesterov simply had the best showing by a Russian defenceman. The ROC ended up losing to Canada in the quarterfinals, which ended their quest for a medal.
The Flames likely won’t be looking to bring him back since their defensive corps doesn’t really have room for him. However, given his preferential usage over younger players like Oliver Kylington and Mackey in 201, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Flames deliberate a bit on Nesterov before making the decision on what to do with him.
Nesterov’s World Championship Stats
Pettersen and Norway finish 13th
The World Championship would be Pettersen’s first go with Norway playing in a tournament that wasn’t at the junior level, previously playing in U16, U17, and U20 junior tournaments. The 21-year-old built off of his first year in the AHL where he picked up six goals and eight assists over 29 games with the Stockton Heat.
With Norway, he scored one goal in five appearances, with not much else to show. While nothing spectacular, nabbing an international-level goal is always a nice moment, and Pettersen can say he has one from the World Championship now.
He has two more seasons in his entry-level contract, so he’ll be returning to the Heat for the foreseeable future as he keeps working his way up the Flames depth charts.
Pettersen’s World Championship Stats
Solovyov and Belarus finish 15th
Solovyov had a pretty uneventful showing at the World Championship, but then again, so too did the rest of the Belarusians. The team finished 15th overall, going 1-5-1, only ahead of Italy, who went 0-7-0.
Having just signed a new entry-level contract with the Flames back on April 6, 2021, the 2020 seventh-round pick went looked to build on his experience playing in the KHL for the first time in the 2020–21 season. Having played in the OHL in 2019–20 with reasonable success, the defenceman impressed the Flames well enough.
However, the young defenceman just wasn’t able to do much on Team Belarus, and unfortunately the team exited early. The sole bright spot for the team was emerging victorious over Team Sweden with a 1–0 shutout win in the preliminary round.
Solovyov’s World Championship Stats
Back to business
Now that the World Championship is over, the Flames’ biggest reason to celebrate is no doubt Mangiapane’s performance. He’s put himself on the map and is no longer the NHL’s best kept secret. With any luck, he’ll keep building into the experience and turn himself into–dare I say it–an elite winger. After all, he’s one of the Flames best even-strength players already.
Up next in the offseason will be preparing for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. The deadline for submitting protection lists is July 17. While some media pundits had wrongly suggested Mangiapane would be left unprotected, there’s zero doubt that the Flames should rather be building their roster with more players like him.
Anyone watching or covering the Flames will be keeping an eye on what the team does next, but in the meantime, let’s go Canada.
Photo from IIHF.com