Going into the 2022–23 season, it was expected that Andrew Mangiapane would have to be a massive offensive contributor for the Calgary Flames after the departures of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. While Mangiapane put up the second best point totals over a full season in his career up to this point, something just felt off all year with his performance. Things did pick up for him in the latter half of the season, and it’s that Andrew Mangiapane that we should expect to see for the majority of 2023–24.
A look back on Mangiapane’s career season
Mangiapane’s breakout season in 2021–22 was a revelation of sorts around the league. The Flames’ sixth-round pick in 2015 had a red-hot start to the season. Through the first 22 games of the season, Mangiapane scored 15 goals, putting him third in league scoring at the time. He was going a rapid pace and had people talking throughout the whole league.
There was even tons of talk of him being apart of the 2022 Canadian Olympic team before the NHL decided not to go. He went on to score 35 goals along with 55 points that season, smashing all previous career-highs. He then inked a three-year, $17.4 million contract that summer—a well-deserved raise.
It seemed like it would be the first year of many where Mangiapane would be scoring 30+ goals per year, and his strong defensive play made him one of the most underrated players in the league and a big contributor for the Flames. He drove play, was stingy on the defensive side of the puck, was scoring, and was getting statistically better year after year, a combination of things that made everyone so excited about Mangiapane’s play heading into 2022–23.
A tale of two halves for Mangiapane
Mangiapane’s 2022–23 season seemed like a mixed bag. Points wise, it was the second highest of his career with 43 points in 82 games. It was only the second time in his career that he played a full 82-game season, but you can chalk a couple seasons up to COVID and his first season he had spent some time in the AHL before being called up.
But through Mangiapane’s first 40 games of the season, he had only scored seven times. For reference, in 2021–22, Mangiapane scored seven times though just six games! To be fair to Mangiapane, those numbers were a bit unsustainable as he saw a spike in his shooting percentage, but in 2022–23, his shooting percentage was in the gutter, which was a big reason as to why his scoring was in the single digits after the first half of the year.
It didn’t help that Mangiapane failed to find chemistry early on with new linemates Nazem Kadri and Dillon Dube. They had a horrendous start to the year, often getting caved in defensively and failing to create much offence. After spending time with a few different linemates like Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli and the aforementioned Kadri and Dube, Mangiapane was re-united with Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman halfway through the season, two players he saw major success playing with just a year prior.
And once they were put back together, they dominated the second half of the year. According to MoneyPuck.com, for lines that spent a minimum of 200 minutes together, Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman ranked first in xGoals% with a 67.8%, seventh in xGoals for with a 28.8 and ranked fourth in xGoals against per 60 minutes 2.06. They were fantastic on both sides of the puck. And that often gained the trust of former bench boss Darryl Sutter as the line that would be deployed to shut down the opponents top offensive weapons.
Mangiapane’s numbers began to rise from that point on. He was scoring more and impacting the game that we all knew he could. He finished the year with 17 goals which was well beneath what he had achieved in 2021–22, but right around his career average in past years. Not to mention Mangiapane encountered his worst shooting percentage thus far in his career at 9.3%, his career average has been 14.9%.
Will the real Breadman please stand up
I expect Mangiapane to be much better this upcoming season. I get that in a vacuum, his counting point totals were fine and all of his on ice metrics were very solid: a 60.8 xGF% and a 60.7 CF% (both in which were above his totals in 2021-22 according to Hockey-Reference.com). But it’s the scoring and the way in which he can impact a game that I think will be ramped up in 2023–24.
There were plenty of times early on last season where you could see that there was a bit of nerves in Mangiapane’s game, not shooting as often, missing opportunities and not being the usual puck hound that we were used to seeing for the better part of four prior seasons. Like mentioned above, chemistry with linemates is huge and not to mention that he was dealing with a shoulder injury that required him to have surgery after the season concluded in April.
But the way Mangiapane finished the year inspired a ton of hope for the upcoming year, it looked like he gained some chemistry with Jonathan Huberdeau late in the year and we all know that he works extremely well with Backlund and Coleman. So like MacKenzie Weegar, if he can continue his play from late in the year, (while also hopefully seeing a bump in shooting percentage) I expect Mangiapane to get back on track, and should be able to easily eclipse the 30-goal mark once again.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire