The Calgary Flames have a lot to do this offseason. From the Seattle Expansion Draft to retooling the team, preparing for the NHL Entry Draft to signing more contracts, the list is a big one and over the next few months each item will slowly be checked off. One big thing to tend to—though it’s technically optional—is re-signing Andrew Mangiapane.
Despite being under contract for another year still, he would be eligible to sign an extension this summer instead of becoming a restricted free agent next summer. Should the Flames and Mangiapane’s camp (Ritchie Winter is his agent, who also represents Mark Giordano) come to mutual agreement, finalising a contract for Mangiapane in the next couple of months would bode well for everyone involved.
How long should his next contract be? We asked, you answered.
How long to sign Andrew Mangiapane?
Per CapFriendly, Mangiapane is eligible for arbitration next season. With his current contract being worth an AAV of $2.425 M, he’s certainly due for a big raise. It’s no longer a secret that Mangiapane is one of the Flames’ best forwards. After the 2020–21 season came to an end, he went to the Worlds and picked up some serious hardware at the IIHF World Championship. These are just a few of many reasons why the Flames would want to avoid letting contract negotiations go through to arbitration.
So that leaves the question of what type of contract Mangiapane should be signing if it’s to get done this offseason. Leaving AAV out of the equation and looking strictly at the term, what did the voters have to say about Mangiapane’s next contract?
For the intents and purposes of this post, we’ll look at short-term contracts being anything between one to three years, which was the first poll option. The chances of this happening are actually fairly slim. He’d be classified as an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2022–23 season, which equates to a one-year contract. The Flames don’t want this; Mangiapane doesn’t want this.
Signing for two or three years acts as another bridge deal that doesn’t really benefit either party. Mangiapane has done more than enough to earn something better than another “show me” deal that he already took full advantage of. Already having shown the Calgary Flames over multiple contracts and multiple seasons, he’s more than ready to collect now.
The Flames on the other hand, have little to no incentive to sign him to a shorter contract unless they are willing burn the bridge with one of their best drafted players so soon. Giving him the ability to test the free agent market is entirely the wrong message to send to both him and other Flames players.
Coming in with 8.2% of all votes, it’s not an appealing option to re-sign Mangiapane with a short-term contract. If it does happen, it’d be rather unfortunate and disappointing. Per Evolving-Hockey and their contract projections, there is a 9%, 15%, and 17% chance he’d sign for one, two, or three years, respectively, which sums up to 41%. In those contracts, he’d be making less than $4M a year. This only helps out with the Flames’ navigation of the flat salary cap, and has little benefit elsewhere. Let’s hope that longer contracts do end up pulling more attraction for both Mangiapane and the Flames.
For Mangiapane, signing for extended years is a sure-fire way to secure his financial future but also ice-time. At the end of the day, every player and their camp has to look out for themselves first. Getting a lengthy contract backed with a good AAV will be a signal that he’s one of the Flames’ best and his ice time should reflect that. In the past season, he’s received a nice bump in play time, averaging 16:39 per game (from Natural Stat Trick). In the year prior, he was only playing 13:42 a contest.
If the contract he signs comes with more AAV attached, then it’s a signal to Darryl Sutter and any coach down the line that he should be played and utilised accordingly too. It can be trivial to associate time on ice with the dollar amount of a contract, but these things do matter.
With Mangiapane’s recent performances for the Flames and Team Canada, his camp definitely knows that if he strings together a good season then they’d have a whole lot more power when negotiations come around next summer, especially with his arbitration rights.
He’s playing extremely smart hockey with high-end skill and technique and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. And after the offence-driven campaign he had in 2020–21, the writing is on the wall that as he enters his prime, he’s likely only going to get better and is definitely a player the Flames need to keep around throughout all of his prime years.
For the Flames, they want to buy as many years of his unrestricted free agent status as possible. Locking in the 2015 166th overall draft pick for years to come signals that he’ll be a core player moving forward, and might even be in line for wearing a letter on his jersey down the line, with him being an alternate captaincy not completely out of reach.
Contract term breakdowns
Looking at long-term contracts on the poll, it’s broken down into a few groups, the “short” long-term contract that lasts four to five years, the “committed” long-term contract that lasts six to seven years, and the “all-in full length” long-term contract that is signed for the max allowable eight total years. While these tiers are somewhat arbitrary to fill out the poll, they do actually represent different levels of agreement between a team and a player.
Aside from the one-year contract, any other option the Flames can offer him will buy years from his unrestricted free agency. It makes sense for both parties to maximise that if they can come to an agreement.
Circling back to Evolving-Hockey’s contract projections, for contracts between four to eight years, the likelihood of Mangiapane signing for four years is the highest with 35%, followed by a five-year contract with 16%, with contracts in the six to eight year range totalling a combined 9%.
That result perfectly matches the poll, where 56.5% of voters think Mangiapane will sign within the four to five year range. It is very possible that that’s where negotiations end up. Tying projected AAVs to those contracts, he’d be expecting somewhere between $4.5M to $5M.
However, the poll suggests that 35.4% of voters want to see even longer term, falling between six to the maximum eight years. That’s a pretty big cohort of voters, but that shows just how well liked he is among the fanbase, with many believing he deserves it.
Despite the odds not being in favour of a lengthy contract, there’s a very recent example of a player who did exactly that. Joel Eriksson Ek of the Minnesota Wild just signed an eight-year, $42M contract to remain with the Wild. There was just a 6% chance of this happening as per Evolving-Hockey’s projections, yet here we are.
Should Brad Treliving take a page out of Bill Guerin‘s playbook and try to do the same with Mangiapane? If not for eight years, should the negotiations still aim land at least in the six or seven year range? My answer is yes. Mangiapane is that good and it should definitely be considered.
It also shows a healthy commitment to the player, which is a good signal to the rest of the Flames roster as well as their prospects. An unexpected long-term contract may not be that bad of a route to go for the Flames when the player is worth it, and Mangiapane clearly is.
A longer contract projects Mangiapane’s AAV to fall between $5.5M to $6M, but Treliving has a history of doing good work when it comes to negotiation with restricted free agents. Should that magic continue, it’s nothing but good news.
A sign of what’s to come
Re-signing Mangiapane is again, technically a very optional to-do list item, but for the Flames it should be a high priority must-do instead. With the NHL’s salary cap still flat and not expecting to increase significantly in the near future either, getting a contract done right now also makes financial sense as when the cap eventually does go up again, there would be more cap space to work with for other players.
Getting Mangiapane signed to a long-term contract now sends all the right messages to all the right people, from management and personnel, to all the players, to even the fanbase.
Let’s get this done.
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images