The NHL’s first in-person draft since 2019 will see teens hear their names announced inside the cavernous Bell Center before hugging family members, taking the stage and donning the hat and jersey of a new team.

Andrew Mangiapane finally got that experience. He just took a while. A long, long time.

The winger participated in all seven rounds of the 2014 NHL draft in Philadelphia.

His name was never called.

“It was tough,” Mangiapane shared in an interview years later. “It was tough being in that draft and not getting selected.”

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Following a 51-point rookie season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts that spring, the Toronto native was subsequently invited to the Arizona Coyotes’ rookie camp that summer.

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Unable to secure a contract, Mangiapane returned to the OHL, scoring 43 goals and 104 points in 2014–15, and was eligible for redraft when the NHL reconvened in Florida the following June.

The then-19-year-old, also passed over for the OHL draft at age 15 before walking with the Colts, just wasn’t sure he wanted to attend the event a second time.


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His family convinced him otherwise.

“It was in Florida, so they said, ‘We’re going to take a trip. We’ll leave a week early and spend time at the hotel and on vacation and go to the beach,’” Mangiapane said.

But on the big day when Connor McDavid was first overall, Mangiapane was once again forced to wait.

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And then wait a little longer, again.

He was reliving the nightmare a second time as name after name came off the board, and his remained.

“A crazy experience,” said Mangiapane. “My dad looked at me and literally said, ‘I’m sorry I brought you here.’ He literally said: ‘You are not going to be chosen.’

“That was a comedown when I heard my dad say that.”

However, the mood quickly changed when the Calgary Flames finally ended Mangiapane’s torment with their sixth-round pick, 166th overall.

“It was an incredible feeling,” he said. “It was worth it.”

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Not many players in his situation make it to the NHL and become regulars, but Mangiapane, who credits much of his success to the late Dale Hawerchuk from their time together at Barrie, got there in 2017-18 and ultimately stayed.

The 26-year-old has built a fine career with the Flames, recording 78 goals and 132 points in 260 regular-season games.

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He has put up 12 points in 27 playoff contests and is a pending restricted free agent after completing a two-year contract that had an average annual value of US$2.425 million.

Not bad for a kid forced to go through 12 1/2 rounds of the NHL draft before finding his home.

It’s certainly also a lesson for some of the players on their way to Montreal.

“It doesn’t matter which round you get selected in,” Mangiapane said. “I just wanted to go play hockey and do the best I could: work hard, train and give it my all.”

So does he joke with his father about the now infamous prediction of being overlooked a second time?

“No, no, I buried that moment,” Mangiapane said with a small smile. “I don’t even want to think about it.

“He probably buried it too.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press


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