NHL Draft: The risk of attending and not being selected

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After appearing in more than 12 rounds of the NHL Draft over two consecutive summers, Andrew Mangiapane had pretty much given up on hearing his name.

The low point came in the 2015 draft in Florida, where halfway through the sixth round, Mangiapane’s father apologized for persuading his 19-year-old son to relive the frustration of not being selected a year earlier in Philadelphia.

“My dad looked at me and he literally said, ‘I’m sorry I brought you here. … You are not chosen,’” Mangiapane recalled.

With his father’s words still hanging in the balance and Mangiapane lost in thought about the likelihood of never being drafted, he nearly missed the Calgary Flames’ announcement picking him 166th overall.

“Yeah, that was kinda low when I heard my dad say that,” Mangiapane said. “But luckily the Calgary Flames selected me, and I tried to work hard and give it my all every time I stepped on the ice.

Mangiapane has become a staple in the Flames’ roster over the past three years and is coming off a season in which he scored 35 goals and 55 points, both career highs.

Although his experience ends well, it represents a cautionary tale to reopen the discussion on whether lower-ranked prospects should attend this week’s draft in Montreal, the first to be held in person since 2019 after the the last two were conducted remotely. because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I get that question a lot, and a lot of times it comes from agents because they’re going through the same dilemma with the parents and the player,” NHL director of central scouting Dan Marr said.

“I think the question is do you want to be there if your name isn’t called?” he added. “Some players will leave no matter what. But that’s the problem in this business. The repechage is a brand, we have rankings, we make them known. But our rankings are only a service to clubs.

Although Central Scouting bases its rankings primarily on common measurables, such as production, height, and skating ability, it does not consider individual team preferences or needs or other intangibles.

Most of the players who should participate in the first three rounds are selected, while it’s more of a dice roll for the rest of the last four rounds. This year’s draft could present more uncertainty, with teams potentially targeting more 19-year-olds who weren’t drafted last year and have had another year to develop after their 2020 seasons- 21 were disrupted by COVID-19.

Although Mangiapane was coming off a 104-point season in the Ontario Hockey League, he was ranked 85th by central scouting in the 2015 draft because he was considered undersized at 5-foot-10. He was also a late bloomer after earning a spot on the Barrie Colts roster as an undrafted player.

“I generally recommend guys who aren’t nearly a slam dunk to go to the first round not to attend because it’s a horrible waste of time,” Mangiapane agent Ritchie Winter said. “But these young people, they worked 13 or 14 years to get drafted. Many of them come anyway. We always warn them.

He calls the draft an “inaccurate process” and is based more on the value of a prospect that day and less on a projection of how that player may develop over time. Winter has represented several overachievers, like the NHL’s preeminent goaltender Dominik Hasek (a 10th-round pick in 1983) and 2019 Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Mark Giordano (undrafted), who have had outstanding careers.

Mangiapane is already something of an exception based on the 260 games he has played in over four seasons.

Of the 307 players selected in the 2009-2017 drafts who appeared in at least 260 games, only 54 were picked 100th or lower. Of Mangiapane’s only draft class, Columbus defender Markus Nutivaara is the only player drafted lower (189th) to have played more games (275).

“There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a player sitting in the draft who doesn’t get drafted,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving said, noting the jolt of excitement he feels when he hears cheers go up in the stands when a player’s name is announced. in the final stages.

Such was the case in 2019, when the Flames selected Dustin Wolf with the penultimate selection. And Treliving recalled the joy on Mangiapane’s face when he showed up at the Flames’ draft table in 2015.

“We’re certainly happy to have made his day,” Treliving said. “But we are happy to have him in our organization because he is a very good player and he is a great young man.”

While the Flames targeted Mangiapane in part because of his competitive traits, Treliving said the credit goes to the player for fulfilling his potential.

“At the end of the day, the player has to have the gut thrust to work on their game and do all the things you need to do to become a professional player, and Andrew has that in spades,” Treliving said. “He just proved the skeptics of junior hockey wrong all the way to where he is today. And that’s a testament to the kind of kid he is.

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