Sean Monahan is probably guy who will end up as Calgary’s first pick this June. In just about every mock draft or consensus draft board he lands right in Calgary’s range (6th-8th overall). Monahan also ticks a lot of boxes for the organization: a big, smart center with good offensive and two-way ability.
The 6’02"195 pound pivot has an October 12, 1994 birthday and is one of the oldest draft eligible players available this year. It’s not like the extra year has inflated his stock however – even if Monhahan was a few weeks older and therefore draft eligible in 2012 he would have been a top-10 pick thanks to a 33-goal, 78-point effort that season.
He replicated those numbers this year, garnering 31 goals and 78 points, albeit in a few less games. His team, the Ottawa ’67s, was one of the very worst clubs in the OHL this time around, however, managing just 16 wins in a 68 game season and ending up with a goal differential of -115 (!). The next best scorer on the club accumulated just 40 points, a full 38 points (!) behind Monahan, who was basically a one man show up front for Ottawa all year.
Given those circumstances, it’s a minor miracle he managed to marginally raise his point-per-game pace over his previous season.
The Scouting Reports
Sometimes you can find contradictory scouting reports on prospects, but the consensus around Monhahan seems to be pretty strong and consistent. He’s a center who can play in almost any situation, has good offensive capabilities, but isn’t going to blow anyone away with blazing speed or flashy moves.
Corey Pronman of Puck Prospectus (who both scouts players himself and talks to numerous NHL scouts for their input) ranked Monahan the 7th best prospect in the draft and had this to say about him:
Monahan is a smart two-way player who has shined in the OHL over the past two seasons. His ability as an offensive playmaker is high end, as he has tremendous instincts, displaying the ability to make quality passes. Monahan regularly shows the ability to slow the game down. He controls play from the perimeter on the power play. He is patient, creative, and he does not simply rely on one dimension, either. He has good puck skills; while they still lag behind his hockey sense, he can make some defensemen miss.
Monahan possesses good size (in order to shoulder off checks). If defenders try to overplay the pass, he has a great shot, and he can finish from medium range if given the chance. His skating is fairly average. He is not a total liability on his feet, but his skating stands out as the least impressive aspect of his game. Monahan projects as a quality defensive center, capable of winning faceoffs consistently.
Brock Otten of the always useful OHL prospects blog more or less echoes Pronman’s take on the player, ranking him the number one OHL prospect way back in October:
At this point, Monahan still has to be considered the top player available from the OHL. Nothing has changed in the past 6 months or so. He’s a potential franchise centerman. Despite the 67’s struggles and their lack of secondary scoring, Monahan still has the best point per game average in the league. He’s nearly a one man show right now. His play away from the puck is top notch. He thinks the game on another level. And offensively, he’s mulch-faceted. Monahan is one of the most complete players to come out of the OHL in recent years.
That said, he’s not an explosive player. He’s not the world’s best skater and he’s not flashy. You really have to watch him a lot to gain an appreciation for the type of player he is.
In some ways, Monahan’s scouting reports sounds a lot like recent CHL graduates Gabriel Landeskog and Sean Courturier, both of whom were considered more or less "NHL ready" right out of the draft because of their size and the completeness of their games. Neither guy has set the world on fire offensively in the NHL at this point, but both are already playing tough competition and surviving/thriving in the show as kids. T
hey aren’t the showy, explosive talents of a Patrick Kane or Alex Ovechkin, but they are the kind of players who become key pieces on good teams for years.
As we showed here previously, Monahan is part of the "second tier" of offensive talents in terms of output in this draft, just below heavy hitters with NHL equivalencies (NHLE) of 40 or better. As Jonathan Willis shows here, Monahan’s NHLE of 33 nevertheless puts him in good company historically, including guys like Rick Nash (33), Dustin Brown (32) and Mike Richards (32). Keep in mind, however, Monahan’s output was probably suppressed by the low quality of his teammates this season – on a better team, it’s very likely he’s an 80-or-90 point player this season, so his NHLE might be understating his real offensive talent.
To add some context to Monahan’s results, I went through his gamesheets to determine his percentage of team offense as well as his even strength and powerplay points splits. Here’s how things settled out:
%Team: 40.8% (78 points on 191 team goals)
%ES: 47.4% (37 of 78 points)
%PP: 48.7% (38 of 78 points)
The results are ambiguous. Monahan’s percentage of team scoring is astronomically high for a kid in his draft year at just over 40%, but his ES/PP split is one of the worst I’ve seen since I started looking at these numbers. This can be interpreted in two ways: first, that his team was so poor at ES that it crushed his ability to put up points in that game state. Second, that Monahan’s offensive output is overly reliant on the man advantage and is therefore somewhat overstated.
We can’t look at valuable underlying numbers like shooting percentages or time on ice, so it’s difficult to say just what is the culprit for his lousy splits. The scouts are pretty unanimous in this player’s overall game and he’s been on the radar for two seasons, so I’m tempted to give Monahan the benefit of the doubt given just how poor his team was this season.
There’s some minor red flags when it comes to Sean Monahan: he is a older than most of his draft eligible peers, he’s not an explosive skater or dominant offensive talent and his ES/PP points splits this year are worrying.
On the other hand, he’s widely considered the best forward available out of the OHL this season and probably would have been top-end draft pick even if he was available in 2012. His combination of size, strength and hockey IQ is a good one and reminiscent of some of the better two-way players who have been picked in the top-10 recently.