CALGARY – Matthew Tkachuk’s contract situation isn’t what’s preventing Andrew Mangiapane from being signed.
About $200,000 appears to be the sticking point.
While neither side of the negotiation is willing to confirm numbers, it’s clear the unexpected stalemate revolves around whether he deserves much of a bump from his qualifying offer.
“We provided them with an offer for one year, based on players provided to us as comparables, and we’re waiting to hear back,” said agent Ritch Winter, who represents the 23-year-old restricted free agent.
“We feel strong in our position – it’s fair but it’s just not there yet,” countered Flames GM Brad Treliving, who admits he never foresaw talks stalling on the up-and-coming winger.
“I am a little bit surprised. To me, this is a really big year for him. Hopefully, he gets in. I’m confident at some point we’ll get something done.”
What both sides agree on is that Tkachuk’s pending payday has nothing to do with Mangiapane’s situation.
“No, we’re not waiting – there’s no batting order here,” said Treliving.
“There’s nothing preventing us from signing him. We think a lot of him. We’ve spent a lot of time in his development the last three years and he’s put the work in.
At the end of last year, he started to take those steps. It takes time and everybody’s got a different path.”
Mangiapane’s saw him toil largely in the minors his first two years as a pro before establishing himself as an everyday NHLer the final three months of last season.
But Mangiapane had eight goals – all even strength – in his final 28 games with the Flames after building chemistry with Derek Ryan on a fourth line that was arguably the team’s best trio down the stretch.
He’s poised to play anywhere from second- to fourth-line minutes this season after the left-shot winger demonstrated he may just be capable of finding the scoring touch at the NHL level that saw him eclipse 100 points in back-to-back seasons with the OHL’s Barrie Colts.
A two-time 20-goal scorer in the minors, who had more than a point a game his last two seasons in the AHL, Mangiapane’s breakthrough came alongside Ryan and Garnet Hathaway despite playing roughly 11 minutes a night.
No longer is anyone worried about his size (generously listed at five-foot-10, 184 pounds), which made him a sixth-round pick. His speed and offensive abilities are now evident at the highest level, making him a versatile option for the Flames from Day 1 this season.
If he’s signed by then.
Coming out of a three-year, entry-level contract that paid him a base salary of US$650,000, Mangiapane’s qualifying offer was set at $715,000 – barely above the current league minimum of $700,000.
Both sides are mum on numbers for obvious reasons, but following conversations with various stakeholders, it’s believed the Flames are offering a one-year deal at $800,000.
It sounds like Mangiapane is looking for closer to $1 million on a one-year, one-way deal.
The notion the Flames might be looking at a two-way pact is largely irrelevant given the fact a player who is starting to hit his stride as an NHLer wouldn’t possibly clear waivers if he was sent down.
Treliving still isn’t in any hurry to end the player’s waiting game as main camp doesn’t open until Sept. 12.
However, both sides know the perils of missing any time during camp, especially given his progress late last season and in the playoffs where he scored in the opening game.
“We think he’s a guy who can build upon what he did last year, but he’s still entering the league,” said Treliving.
“You want to be in the best situation to succeed, and that’s being in the right state of mind and having no other distractions. It also means having a good camp to set yourself up to have a good year, so hopefully, that’s what happens.”
The sample size on Mangiapane is small – just 54 NHL games – but given his effectiveness late last year, it’s quite likely the contract numbers the two sides will be talking about next summer will be significantly higher.
That said, the focus right now revolves around a one-year, show-me pact.