SUNRISE, FL -- Andrew Mangiapane went undrafted. Twice.
He didn’t get through a third.
Slipping through both the OHL Priority Draft and the 2014 NHL Draft, Mangiapane earned his moment in Florida, with the Calgary Flames selecting the 19-year-old in the sixth round (No. 166) of the 2015 draft.
“It feels … I’m speechless,” Mangiapane said. “Speechless. So surreal. It’s been a great day. I’m just so happy. I’m so speechless. The smile will be there for at least a week. My body just went into shock. I just got all numb and was like, ‘Wow, did I just hear my name?’ It was so surreal. It’s a great experience just being here.”
As a 15-year-old, Mangiapane didn’t generate enough interest amongst Ontario Hockey League clubs to garner a selection. Instead, he participated in a camp with the Barrie Colts, earning a spot as a free agent.
But after recording 24 goals and 51 points in his rookie campaign with the Colts, the 5-foot-9 forward sat in the stands in Philadelphia as 30 teams, using 210 picks, passed him over last June.
“It was quite a long journey, I’d say, a difficult one,” he said. “I didn’t get drafted into the OHL. I’ve got to thank (coach) Dale (Hawererchuk) and the Barrie organization for that. They picked me up as a free agent and they signed me then. I couldn’t have done it without them. I don’t know where I’d be … probably playing Junior A somewhere.”
Mangiapane used each snub as motivation.
Now, he’s owned by an NHL team.
“It was difficult, but I also used that fuel for fire,” he said. “I used it this year. I used all that emotion, the feeling there, and I said if I played good, if I trained hard, good things will happen the following year and it turned out to be true.”
He returned to Barrie to amass 43 goals and 104 points.
Mangiapane also returned to the NHL Draft, this time in Florida.
And now, he’ll be bound for Calgary.
"We saw the improvement from last year to this year," Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button said. "He was always a guy that could skate. He’s the same size, he might be a little bit stronger, but the one thing we noticed this year that was a little bit different was that he could control his speed better. He wasn’t just speed. You put up 100 points in the OHL, that’s quite an accomplishment. He managed to make plays and score goals and his speed is outstanding and his hand speed, his skill, is really good.
“He just keeps going. I think the last Italian we had that didn’t get drafted is doing pretty good. And in either…the OHL or the NHL.”
The reference from Button is in relation to captain Mark Giordano, who, like Mangiapane, went undrafted at the OHL level. Giordano signed as a free agent after passing through the NHL Draft, too.
Button wasn't willing to risk that with Mangiapane.
“It can be hard for some kids," Button started. "Some kids could just quit and say ‘It’s not worth it for me.’ He kept going. Gio kept going. We saw the improvement from last year to this year with Mangiapane. That was the biggest thing. You see the improvement and you see his game evolve. This year we just weren’t going to let it go.”
After heartbreak in Philadelphia nearly one year to the date, Mangiapane can let go of that disappointment.
And now he's eager to get started with Calgary.
“It was a little disappointed last year not getting drafted,” Mangiapane said. “I figured it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. You only get to do that once. “Last year I didn’t get drafted in Philly. I went there. It was still a shock. I’m just so surprised to hear my name called.
“This is completely a big shock,” he said. “I didn’t think that Calgary would pick me. It’s just great that they did."