It’s not easy to be selected to represent your country at the Olympic Games. The feat becomes even more difficult when you’re talking about Canada’s men’s ice hockey team, but Andrew Mangiapane has done more than play himself into the conversation. He’s not just one of the Calgary Flames’ best forwards, he’s one of the country’s best and deserves to be on Canada’s Olympic team.
Mangiapane’s production speaks for itself
For Calgary Flames fans, Mangiapane’s rise to stardom has not been a huge surprise. He’s been one of the best producers at every single level of hockey he’s played, and it was only a matter of time before he broke through in the NHL.
In the OHL playing for the Barrie Colts, Mangiapane’s best season saw him rack up 51 goals and 55 assists in just 59 games. In Stockton with the AHL, his best season saw him put up 21 goals and 25 assists in 39 games. Now, in the NHL, Mangiapane is in the midst of his best season, already with 15 goals in 20 games for the Flames so far.
It may have taken him a couple years to solidify himself as a regular NHLer, but now, Mangiapane is proving to be one of the best goal scorers in the NHL.
This season, Mangiapane leads the Flames in goals, and ranks amongst the best in the entire league in both goals and points, at all situations and at 5v5, and is clearly one of the best Canadians in the league. All statistics are sourced from NaturalStatTrick.com and NHL.com.
Among Canadians, Mangiapane is a top-five player at 5v5, but is currently flat out the top goal scorer. Seeing as most of the game is played at 5v5, it’d be a very important metric to judge a player’s ability to play on the world’s biggest stage. Going even further though, Mangiapane is consistently among the top 14 Canadian skaters, and clearly first in terms of goal scoring.
Mangiapane drives play despite limited minutes
Looking even deeper at his underlying numbers, Mangiapane is clearly head and shoulders above the majority of NHLers.
It’s almost comical how good Mangiapane has been throughout his NHL career, but especially this season.
He has never been a below-average player in any possession metric for the past several years, has consistently driven play on both ends of the ice, and is absolutely dominating this season with over 60% of the scoring chances, high-danger chances, and expected goals when he’s on the ice.
From HockeyViz.com, we can see Mangiapane’s isolated charts that clearly show that he is the one driving the offence for his line.
On offence, Mangiapane generate 9% more expected goals than average and allow 9% less expected goals than average. Impressive stuff.
Another public model from Evolving-Hockey.com shows just how ahead of the pack Mangiapane is this season, and has been over the course of the past three seasons as well.
In terms of play driving ability, Mangiapane is as good as they come. He’s dominant at 5v5 and the power play, though he likely won’t see power play time as a member of the national Olympic team.
Mangiapane’s versatility gives him an edge
What sets Mangiapane apart from the rest of those fighting for bottom-six roles on Team Canada is his versatility. With the ability to play in all situations, Mangiapane can slot up and down the roster as needed and plug holes no matter where they are.
He has experience playing in the top-six, the bottom-six, the power play, the penalty kill, in overtime, and with the extra attacker out. It doesn’t matter what situation Canada finds themselves in, Mangiapane will be able to deliver.
This is similar to the role Jakob Pelletier played for Canada at the World Juniors last year. He was something of a Swiss army knife for the team, playing up and down the lineup, on both sides of special teams, and always gave his line mates a boost.
It’s sometimes difficult to expect a player who is used to playing 20 minutes a night on their team’s top line and to power play unit to assume a role as a checker on a fourth line with only 10 minutes in ice time. Players used to that type of deployment don’t always thrive in a lesser role and can’t make the most of their limited minutes. For Mangiapane, that wouldn’t be an issue at all. He’s thrived this year with limited minutes as the breakdown above shows, and would be an effective player in a bottom-six role.
A player with Mangiapane’s workhorse mentality is extremely valuable for team’s vying for championships. He has the ability to rally the troops, lead by example, and will always give his maximum effort in every shift. That’s the type of player Canada should be looking for to fill their fourth line—players who can play a checking role, work hard, and score with limited minutes.
Mangiapane has international experience
It’s a well known fact that Hockey Canada is partial to players who have donned the maple leaf in past tournaments. Fortunately for Mangiapane, he is coming off the most recent men’s tournament in which he stood out in a big way.
In the World Championships earlier this year, Mangiapane completely turned things around for Canada. They were losing games and playing poorly before Mangiapane joined the team, prompting them to go on an incredible run all the way to the championship.
Mangiapane scored seven goals and 11 points in seven games for the country, earning MVP honours. His performance at the Worlds holds a lot of weight. Hockey Canada will not forget about that and is likely the reason he was included in their long list.
Mangiapane is the perfect fourth liner for Team Canada
It’s not just his torrid pace to the 2021–22 season that makes Mangiapane the perfect fourth liner for Team Canada. His ability to play hard and effectively despite limited ice time is a key reason why Mangiapane sticks out from pack. He brings so many different elements to his line and team and would be the perfect fit on Canada’s fourth line.
He deserves the honour. Make it happen, Hockey Canada.