Reasonable Expectations: Sean Monahan

Christian Roatis
August 14 2014 01:15PM

Last year, I took a stab at setting "reasonable" expectations for Sven Baertschi and absolutely nailed it... not.

So naturally, I'm the one who will attempt to attach expectations to the most unpredictable player set to suit up in the Flaming C this October.

Last year Sean Monahan did what very few have done, and even fewer expected him to do: score 20 goals as a 19 year old rookie. Since 2000, there have been just 12 players to score more than 22 goals in a season as a 19 year old, and only 6 of them did so as rookies rookies.

Here are the 6:

Player

Goals In Rookie Year

Goals the Next Year

Jonathan Toews

24

34

John Tavares

24

29

Taylor Hall

22

27

Gabriel Landeskog

22

23*

Peter Mueller

22

13

Patrick Kane

21

25

*Estimated based off of SH% in Lockout Shortened Season

The company Sean Monahan finds himself in is very impressive. Outside of Peter Mueller, every player on that list is a cornerstone for their respective franchise. Looking at the list, we see almost every player improved on their rookie totals during their sophomore campaigns as well, again with the exception of Peter Mueller. Gabriel Landeskog's numbers are estimates and somewhat skewed by virtue of playing the lockout shortened season, but even he appeared to be on course to eclipse his rookie campaign goal total.

While we shouldn't expect a Stamkos-like improvement (Stamkos went from 23 to 51 from his rookie to sophomore campaign) this season out of Monahan, superficial evidence at this point would suggest he'll improve on his 22 goals in 2014/15.

A Closer Look

However, here at FlamesNation, superficial evidence isn't enough to satisfy us. So let's take a deeper look at each of Monahan's six best comparables.

Player

Goals in Rookie 19yo Year

Shots in Rookie Year

SH% in Rookie Year

Team Rank in RY

Goals in Sophomore Year/Goal Differential

Shots/ SH% in Sophomore Year

Team Rank in Sophomore Year

Jonathan Toews

24

144

16.7

19th

34 / +10

195 / 17.4

 

6th

John Tavares

24

186

12.9

27th

29 / +5

243 / 11.9

27th

Taylor Hall

22

186

11.8

30th

27 / +5

207 / 13.0

29th

Gabriel Landeskog

22

270

8.2

20th

23 (estimated)

279 (estimated) / 8.3

29th

Peter Mueller

22

201

11.0

23rd

13 / -9

138 / 9.4

26th

Patrick Kane

21

191

11.0

19th

25 / +4

254 / 9.8

6th

Sean Monahan

22

140

15.7%

27th

TBD      

TBD

Estimated: 25th-30th

 

Quite a group indeed. Aside from Peter Mueller, that is. I'm sure Flames fans would be rather ecstatic with Monahan ending up a similar calibre player as the skaters on that list. Again, aside from Peter Mueller.

I elected to stay away from the advanced metrics game when compiling these comparables because for a rookie player, I feel Corsi & Friends™ have very little to offer in terms of analyzing how that specific player's rookie campaign actually went. The stats in a rookie's first season become flawed by things such as the transitional period they go through at the beginning of their careers, where their acclimation to the NHL game yields generally horrendous fancy stat results.

Sean Monahan was criticized for facing some of the easiest competition on the team yet still getting buried in the possession game. I would attribute that to stretches of poor play - such as that period after he returned from injury - that hampered his overall statistical showing. Having said that, Sean Monahan was never a dominant possession player last year and having meandered through the advanced metrics of each member of the list, they all put up similar number, and naturally faced really easy competition. Throwing a baby-faced skilled rookie to the wolves is a one-way ticket to Bustville, with stops in Headache Town and the Kris Chucko Memorial Museum.

Point being, I didn't feel advanced stats to be prudent in this situation, and instead stuck with more "meat and potatoes" metrics to find suitable comparables for the most-loved young player in this town since Sven Baertschi (although Johnny Hockey could make an argument out of that statement). (Editor's Note: We call ourselves Mono-Fans.) Some may disagree with me and throw out big words and fancy math to prove me wrong on the advanced stat front, but that's just my opinion on the matter.

So, back to the chart. Some of you may have noticed right away there is one player who's rookie stats seem eerily close to those of Monahan's. That being Jonathan Toews. Their goal totals are just two apart (although Toews played 11 less games) and their shot and SH%'s are very close as well. Toews too had an inflated SH% in rookie season and unlike most would expect, did not regress, in fact posted an even higher SH% the following year. These weren't anomalies either, as Toews comes into the 2014/15 season with a career 15.1 SH%. Some players just happen to convert more on their chances than others. It can't always be attributed to "luck". What's to say Monahan can't be of a similar make?

However, before we get all excited about having the next Jonathan Toews in our lineup, you'll notice no else really boasts those kinds of stats. Every shooting percentage is more modest and hangs around the league average SH% which, depending on the year, is around 9.0-10.0%. Is Toews is the real anomaly here? Maybe. Only time will tell if Monahan will continue down the path forged by Hawks captain, but right now it's just a fun coincidence to speculate with.

The good news is though, with the exception of good ol' Pete Mueller, everyone on that list increased their production from one year to the next, and did it, for the most part, on rather poor teams. They also all shot more and thus buried more. After all, if you can score 20 plus goals as a rookie, there's nothing that should stop you from doing it again. At least you'd think so.

Peter Mueller is the one aberration to that theory. One would think Sean Monahan should absolutely improve on his 22 goal season because everyone else did, except for Mueller. So, why Mueller? My theory is simple. Peter Mueller scored goals by way of skill rather than hockey sense and hard work. He danced around people and dangled. It was all fine and good in his rookie year, but come his second season in the show, defences started to zero in on him, he hadn't the skill level to answer them and keep up his pace. He didn't have an alternative source of goal scoring - he was never a "drive-the-net" and grind for rebounds kind of guy - and was thus left a shell of his former self. While the Patrick Kanes and John Tavares' possessed the skill set to overcome the extra attention and continued their success, Peter Mueller flamed out.

Sean Monahan didn't score goals by way of overwhelming skill. He did it by primarily relying on his hockey IQ and instincts - being in the right place at the right time. Sure he has an abundant offensive arsenal, but it's headed by his head. And intuition is not something easily defended against.

The Reasonable Expectation

So having said all that, what can we reasonably expect from the second year saviour, *cough*, centerman? Well, it would be more than fair to expect a bump up in shots, to somewhere in the 200 realm. Monahan shot considerably less than most players on the list, but did miss time, so with a full 82 game schedule ahead of him, an increase in shots should be expected.

His goal output, after much analysis, I will forecast will increase, if just slightly. He won't put up 30, but I think the fashion in which he scores goals allows for sustainability because rebounds and broken plays will never stop occurring, and if Monahan can get himself in those areas ready to release, he should visit the back of the net again at a similar clip consistently. For those eagerly awaiting his SH% to plummet, I wouldn't hold my breath, for Monahan strikes me as the type of player who will sustain an inflated percentage throughout his career. That's just the way he plays. His shots come from high percentage areas around the net, and doesn't take those leg flick wristers from the top of the circle that kill SH%, with regularity. Now that I've said that, watch him be cursed and shoot 3.0% next year.

I didn't bother cooking up comparables to Monahan's assist production because that, like GAA for goaltenders, depends so much on the team you're playing on and the quality of your linemates. Short of the Sedins, who can turn Anson Carter into a 30 goal scorer, assist production will vary on who your setting up with passes. Sean Monahan would've doubled his assist total if he was dishing to Alex Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos, but Joe Colborne just isn't quite the same trigger to be feeding. Having said that, 12 is a pretty low number of apples, even with the linemates he had, so I expect an increased role this year will come with more quality linemates and in turn an increased helper amount. Using official methods and totally legit estimation algorithms, I'll forecast Monahan's name will be scribbled down as one of the assists on 20 goals this year.

So, amalgamating everything together, we'll put our rough estimate of Monahan's statistical season next year at 25 goals and 20 assists with 200 shots and a more "acceptable" 12.5 SH%. I'd peg this as the optimistic expectation, with anything under 20 goals and 15 assists being considered a disappointing campaign.

The main theme of Monahan's 2014/15 season should be improvement. It's impetrative he continues to progress and evolve into a better player in every facet of the game. Say what you want about how Monahan will regress or whatnot, but any such regression, whether it be on the stat sheet or otherwise, must be viewed in a negative light and be considered disappointing. I understand he set himself a high bar this season, but that's what star players do. And they continue to raise that bar until they reach extraordinary heights. If Monahan should continue to be regarded as a budding star, he must adhere to circumstances of that ilk, and continue to raise that bar.

Improvement, no matter how small, is what should be reasonably expected out of Sean Monahan, next season.

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Christian Roatis is a European by birth, Calgarian by heart. Other than writing at FlamesNation, he writes about and scouts NHL Draft Prospects at Future Considerations. Follow him on Twitter @CRoatis!
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#1 coachedpotatoe
August 14 2014, 01:40PM
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Hypothetically speaking what do people think a team that had the following stats be like, would it contend for a playoff spot?

line 1: 60 points,50 points, 40 points

line 2: 45 points, 50 points, 40 points

line 3: 40 points,40 points, 30 points

line 4: 35 points, 30 points, 25 points

top defensive pairing 35 and 30 points 2nd pairing 20 and 15 points

third pairing 10 and 10.

And NHL average goaltending.

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#2 piscera.infada
August 14 2014, 01:52PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

Hypothetically speaking what do people think a team that had the following stats be like, would it contend for a playoff spot?

line 1: 60 points,50 points, 40 points

line 2: 45 points, 50 points, 40 points

line 3: 40 points,40 points, 30 points

line 4: 35 points, 30 points, 25 points

top defensive pairing 35 and 30 points 2nd pairing 20 and 15 points

third pairing 10 and 10.

And NHL average goaltending.

It depends entirely on how many goals this hypothetical team allows. Using a rough conversion factor of 2.675 points per goal (thus, 1.675 assists per goal - yes, I pulled it right out of you know where), you end up with a total number of goals scored totalling 226. That puts you right at the median 'goals for' from last season - right below Winnipeg, right above the Islanders. For frame of reference the Flames scored 209 last year.

You're missing the other half of the equation here. So it really tells you nothing, except for the fact that you'd have incredible balance throughout your line-up.

Edit: my number doesn't appear to be wildly off-base (perhaps a little high).

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#3 Lordmork
August 14 2014, 02:00PM
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How many of Monahan's points were put up in the first nine games of last season? Can we accurately compensate in this projection for what seems like a run of really hot luck?

I'd be perfectly happy if Monahan managed to run in place and put up the same number of points/goals while being sheltered a little bit less. I'm trying to keep my expectations low. Monahan has a lot of time to develop.

That said, pleasepleaseplease let us have the next Toews on our hands.

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#4 PrairieStew
August 14 2014, 02:05PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

Hypothetically speaking what do people think a team that had the following stats be like, would it contend for a playoff spot?

line 1: 60 points,50 points, 40 points

line 2: 45 points, 50 points, 40 points

line 3: 40 points,40 points, 30 points

line 4: 35 points, 30 points, 25 points

top defensive pairing 35 and 30 points 2nd pairing 20 and 15 points

third pairing 10 and 10.

And NHL average goaltending.

Line 1 Hudler- Backlund Glencross CHECK

Line 2 Byron/JG - Monahan - Colborne qualified CHECK - all improvements

Line 3 Raymond - Stajan - Jones uhhh OK CHECK - barely

Line 4 Bollig - Bouma - McGrattan FAIL

Defense 1 Gio - Brodie CHECK

Defense 2 Wideman - Russel CHECK

Defense 3 Engelland - Smid FAIL Average goaltending CHECK

20th overall.

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#5 coachedpotatoe
August 14 2014, 02:16PM
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PrairieStew wrote:

Line 1 Hudler- Backlund Glencross CHECK

Line 2 Byron/JG - Monahan - Colborne qualified CHECK - all improvements

Line 3 Raymond - Stajan - Jones uhhh OK CHECK - barely

Line 4 Bollig - Bouma - McGrattan FAIL

Defense 1 Gio - Brodie CHECK

Defense 2 Wideman - Russel CHECK

Defense 3 Engelland - Smid FAIL Average goaltending CHECK

20th overall.

I did not include any names but as you did this how I would put it together.

Hudler/Monahan/Colborne

Johnny/Backs/Jones(playing with these guys he might bounce back)

Glenx/Stajan/Bouma(a stretch but I think he has more to give)

Raymond/the Bennett/Byron/Granlund connection/Bollig

Gio/Brodie Wides/Russell Engelland(I was suprised to find he had 12 points last year and yes I know we are Pittsburg) and Smid

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#6 Baalzamon
August 14 2014, 02:28PM
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12 goals, 22 assists, 34 points.

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#7 SmellOfVictory
August 14 2014, 02:34PM
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Lordmork wrote:

How many of Monahan's points were put up in the first nine games of last season? Can we accurately compensate in this projection for what seems like a run of really hot luck?

I'd be perfectly happy if Monahan managed to run in place and put up the same number of points/goals while being sheltered a little bit less. I'm trying to keep my expectations low. Monahan has a lot of time to develop.

That said, pleasepleaseplease let us have the next Toews on our hands.

That's my expectation, as well. Somewhere between 30 and 40 points, but an improvement in terms of gaining and maintaining possession of the puck is entirely reasonable.

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#8 BurningSensation
August 14 2014, 03:27PM
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This franchise would take a quantum leap forward if Monahan is anything remotely like Jonathon Toews.

I am absolutely dying to see how Monahan and Gaudreau fit together, and am fully prepared to make overheated Patrick Kane-Jonathon Towes comparisons the first time they connect.

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#9 Kent Wilson
August 14 2014, 03:55PM
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Since 2000, there have been just 12 players to score more than 20 goals in a season as a 19 year old, and only 6 of them did so as rookies rookies.

What happened to Jordan Staal?

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#10 Ca$h-Money!
August 14 2014, 04:05PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Since 2000, there have been just 12 players to score more than 20 goals in a season as a 19 year old, and only 6 of them did so as rookies rookies.

What happened to Jordan Staal?

That also ignores Yakupov, whom I believe had 18 in the lockout year.

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#11 Greg
August 14 2014, 04:46PM
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@Lordmork

He had 6 goals and 3 assists in the first 9 games. That said, it's a short enough phase that it doesn't significantly impact his projection. If you take those 9 games out, his 82 game pace drops from 24 goals to 19, and 37 points to 31. Puts him out of this list of comparables, but its not disheartening drop-off at least (I was actually a little surprised TBH).

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#12 Christian Roatis
August 14 2014, 04:53PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Since 2000, there have been just 12 players to score more than 20 goals in a season as a 19 year old, and only 6 of them did so as rookies rookies.

What happened to Jordan Staal?

My apologies, that should read 22, not 20. Sorry, it's fixed now.

Also, my FN User Account appears to have died. I can't login...

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#13 Christian Roatis
August 14 2014, 04:58PM
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What is proof reading?

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#14 Greg
August 14 2014, 05:07PM
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Its too bad this article didn't look further at Corsi, zone starts, etc. I think that would have helped tease out which of those comparables he's more likely to track.

Then again, it's probably too small of a group to draw any reasonable conclusions from anyway. :)

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#15 beloch
August 14 2014, 05:08PM
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Here's a bit of extra data on these guys:

Player ------------------ GP ---- TOI/60---- Sh/60---- CF% ---- OZS% -- Corsi QoC --- Corsi QoT
Jonathan Toews------ 64 ----- 12.9 ----- 10.4 ----- 0.511 ----- 55.7 -----1.054 ----- 2.13
John Tavares---------- 82 ----- 13.4 ----- 10.2 ----- 0.484 ----- 56.9 ----- 0.69 ----- -4.133
Taylor Hall-------------- 65 ----- 15.1 ----- 11.4 ----- 0.493 ----- 52.0 ----- 0.532 ----- -6.523
Gabriel Landeskog - 82 ----- 14.7 ----- 13.4 ----- 0.559 ----- 54.8 ----- 0.295 ----- 5.16
Peter Mueller---------- 81 ----- 12.7 ----- 11.7 ----- 0.505 ----- 54.1 ----- 0.641 ----- -1.191
Patrick Kane----------- 82 ----- 13.6 ----- 10.3 ----- 0.537 ----- 54.5 ----- 0.483 ----- 1.716
Sean Monahan ------ 75 ----- 13.3 ------ 8.4 ------ 0.444 ----- 55.0 ----- 0.725 ----- -8.194

Note: Stats are from behindthenet.ca

First of all, after accounting for games played and TOI, Monahan took substantially fewer shots than anyone else on that list. However, he faced tougher average competition than all but Toews, had below average offensive zone starts for this group, and had the worst line-mates of the lot. If you look at how Monahan was deployed this season, he received less shelter later in the season than he did earlier in the season.

In short, Monahan didn't shoot the puck as much as the other players here and probably needed a little luck to score as many goals as he did, but he was also generally less sheltered than most and had poorer quality linemates than all of them. I'd also like to point out that center is a more demanding position than wing, so it's especially impressive that Monahan can join a rookie scoring club that includes a fair number of wingers.

Edit: Updated OZS%. I copied the wrong column. Oops! Also note, table is based on 5v5 stats.
Edit2: Updated CF%. I really wasn't paying attention when I initially did this.

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#16 Byron Bader
August 14 2014, 06:16PM
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@Kent Wilson

He just made the cut off when he was drafted (sep 10). Was 18 his whole first year

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#17 Kent Wilson
August 14 2014, 06:57PM
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@beloch

I think you looked at a few of the wrong columns there beloch...

Monahan's ZS was 57% last year, not 50.5 and his relative quality of competition was -0.40, good for the 3rd easiest on the team ahead of only WestGarth and McGrattan amongst regular forwards.

Not sure why you looked at CF%, but his relative corsi rate was -8.8/60, only better than the fighters and Lance Bouma.

Toews, by way of comparison, had a poisitive corsi relative corsi rate his first season (+3.3) and Kane was even further ahead of him (+8.6/60). They were both relatively sheltered as well, but they were substantially head of Monahan in terms of pushing the play.

It also looks like Taylor Hall was worse than Monahan by this comparison, but in fact he led the Oilers in terms of relative possession his rookie year (+10.4/60). And he was facing first liners from day 1.

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#18 Kent Wilson
August 14 2014, 06:58PM
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@Byron Bader

True, but I think it makes sense to treat this as the 18-19 year old season for comparison purposes.

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#19 beloch
August 14 2014, 07:43PM
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@Kent Wilson

Yup. I made a couple of spreadsheet PEBKAC errors. I fixed both the OZS's and CF% (Accidentally added BSF to CF and BSA to CA instead of vice-versa). Monahan's 5v5 OZS% is now 55.0%. The average came up to 54.7%, so he's still almost average in that stat. I'm not precisely sure how behindthenet calculates QoC, but extraskater was down at the time so I couldn't check, and they don't have stats going back far enough for some of these guys anyways.

I prefer CF% to +/- corsi/60 because +/- exaggerates the difference between players on high event teams relative to low event teams. CF% gives you a ratio of offense to defence so you don't need to account for overall events.

According to behindthenet, Hall had tougher zone starts than Monahan and the second-worst line-mates, and now that I've fixed the CF% calculation you can see that he did do a bit better than Monahan, which isn't surprising since he was a clear #1 lottery pick and Monahan was a #6 pick. Hall was also significanly better in shots and offensive production. Still, it's not a bad thing for a center picked #6 to be able to hang on the same chart with a winger picked #1 overall.

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#20 SmellOfVictory
August 14 2014, 08:24PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Since 2000, there have been just 12 players to score more than 20 goals in a season as a 19 year old, and only 6 of them did so as rookies rookies.

What happened to Jordan Staal?

He scored 29 goals as an 18 year old followed by 12 as a 19 year old, so technically he doesn't fit the criteria. ;)

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#21 exsanguinator
August 14 2014, 09:30PM
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Everyone on your list except for Mueller were picked 3rd or higher.

At any rate I'm expecting 15 to 18 goals/~35 points. I think his counting numbers will take a bit of a hit but his fancy stats will improve by quite a bit.

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#22 jeremywilhelm
August 14 2014, 09:31PM
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I was reading in Vollman's hockey abstract that distance from the net on a shot has a significant affect on sh%.

I think we see some higher sh% from certain players because they take the majority of their shots from within a higher shooting percentage range.

I think this may be why we saw Monahan with an inflated percentage, as the majority of his shots were within 0-9' of the net (after I estimated from the "all of Monahan's goals" video). Basically, he hardly ever shot from outside of that 9' range that had a higher mean sh%.

If I had enough time I would do a correlation between shot % and shot distance and how well this relates to players with abnormally higher sh%.

Ps, if you guys like advanced stats, get Vollman's Abstract. Its pretty damn good.

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#23 beloch
August 14 2014, 11:30PM
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Totally off-topic: Kevin Hayes will become a UFA tomorrow. It will be interesting to see who he signs with.

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#24 ChinookArch
August 15 2014, 06:44AM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

I was reading in Vollman's hockey abstract that distance from the net on a shot has a significant affect on sh%.

I think we see some higher sh% from certain players because they take the majority of their shots from within a higher shooting percentage range.

I think this may be why we saw Monahan with an inflated percentage, as the majority of his shots were within 0-9' of the net (after I estimated from the "all of Monahan's goals" video). Basically, he hardly ever shot from outside of that 9' range that had a higher mean sh%.

If I had enough time I would do a correlation between shot % and shot distance and how well this relates to players with abnormally higher sh%.

Ps, if you guys like advanced stats, get Vollman's Abstract. Its pretty damn good.

Monahan continues to remind me of Neuwendyk, and from that I can buy that he'll have a higher than normally shooting % over his career. That said, reasonable expectations should include a high weighting for potential regression. He's still a 19 year old kid that needs a lot of sheltering, on a team that will find it difficult to provide easy minutes all season long, especially as injuries mount and more kids come up from Adirondack.

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#25 coachedpotatoe
August 15 2014, 07:19AM
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beloch wrote:

Totally off-topic: Kevin Hayes will become a UFA tomorrow. It will be interesting to see who he signs with.

Both the Herald and the Sun had articles on this subject discussing the pros and cons. So a straw poll props for yes, trashes for no; will the Flames sign Hayes.

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#26 piscera.infada
August 15 2014, 07:56AM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

Both the Herald and the Sun had articles on this subject discussing the pros and cons. So a straw poll props for yes, trashes for no; will the Flames sign Hayes.

While it would make for a nice, feel-good story, I don't think he does. I can't think of any American kid (from the East, nonetheless) saying to themselves "gosh, I really want to play in Calgary someday". I think the Gaudreau/Arnold relationship is overblown; they played the majority (but not all) of one season together and if they are really that tight, they'll be friends no matter where each of them end up in their respective careers.

Almost every team in the league has a dearth of talent at RW, so bidding for his services will be fierce - I just think the allure to play in a big US market will be too great. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see it happen, I really would. That said though, I don't think he's an automatic answer to anything (too many question marks in his game), so I'm not going to be too distraught if it doesn't happen.

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#27 coachedpotatoe
August 15 2014, 08:26AM
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piscera.infada wrote:

While it would make for a nice, feel-good story, I don't think he does. I can't think of any American kid (from the East, nonetheless) saying to themselves "gosh, I really want to play in Calgary someday". I think the Gaudreau/Arnold relationship is overblown; they played the majority (but not all) of one season together and if they are really that tight, they'll be friends no matter where each of them end up in their respective careers.

Almost every team in the league has a dearth of talent at RW, so bidding for his services will be fierce - I just think the allure to play in a big US market will be too great. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see it happen, I really would. That said though, I don't think he's an automatic answer to anything (too many question marks in his game), so I'm not going to be too distraught if it doesn't happen.

You seem to agree with the other early morning risers.

On another subject all together I wonder what the hold up is on the Bouma contract.

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#28 Danny Lawson
August 15 2014, 02:43PM
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He will get somewhere between 65 & 75 points easily.

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