Via the CHL
In the days since the draft, there’s been lots of talk as to whether or not Calgary’s 6th overall pick should play in the NHL next season. There’s a narrative out there about “rushing” players and how it’s bad: but I feel like if an 18 year old is ready to play in the NHL, is he really being “rushed”?
Personally, I feel as though Monahan should spend one more year in the OHL, which would allow him to get stronger, dominate competition and develop more defensively. It also saves Calgary some contract dollars down the line. But, as Jay Feaster has said, if he earns an NHL spot, he’ll be in the NHL. So – if Monahan makes the big leagues, what should we expect from him?
To find Monahan’s closest comparables, I set out the following criteria:
- Played in one of the CHL leagues in their draft season – this allows for a relatively equal difficulty of competition in the season before, which can make a big difference in who we find as comparables: someone in the USHL or AJHL played lower quality competition, which likely means they scored less in their +1 season against NHLers. This ensures comparables that are artificially dragging the average one way or another aren’t included.
- Played more than 9 games in the NHL the season after – this weeds out the guys who were only up for the part of their ELC that still allows them to slide back to the CHL.
- Had a draft year NHLE of between 30 and 35 in their 18/19 year old season – similar scoring level to Monahan, which means similar development at similar age.
- Drafted in the last 10 drafts – CHL scoring rates over the last 10 years have remained relatively consistent.
As a general rule, players don’t tend to play meaningful NHL games in their draft +1 season, so the field was narrowed considerably by that. We were left with 6 players. The crop of players in and of itself, while small, is quite impressive. The first 5 guys are among the best players on their team and Josh Bailey’s career is finally starting to live up to his draft position.
|DY PPG||DY NHLE||+1 PPG||+1 PTS|
Now, there were some guys who were above 35 in NHLE (Evander Kane, Nail Yakupov, Tyler Seguin, Sean Couturier and Taylor Hall) and some guys who were just below 30 (Ryan O’Reiliy, Alex Burmistrov, Andrew Shaw and Jordan Staal) as well who met the other criteria. Most of those guys are really good (or on their way to being really good).
The survivorship bias here is pretty small, too – aside from Alex Galchenyuk (season missed due to injury), O’Reilly had the lowest NHLE of any player who made the transition immediately from Junior to the NHL. Other than the 4 listed above, the only players who scored at higher rates than Monahan and transitioned the next season were almost exclusively #1 picks and Sam Gagner.
Like I said, as a general rule, players don’t tend to play meaningful NHL games in their +1 season. If a guy can’t handle it, he almost always goes back to Junior. Obviously there are contractual reasons to send players back down and I’m not saying that guys who don’t play in the pros immediately are junk, but the guys that do tend to be good players.
The point here is that if Monahan makes the NHL on merit next year (and not based on a need to sell hope to the Flames fan base), it looks like there’s a lot of reasons why he could have a big first season. Furthermore, there’s some arrows here suggesting he should be a pretty good player. That said, his output will depend entirely on his circumstances – many of the guys in question stepped into primary roles right away, often with other good players, which is why they flourished. Keeping Monahan around to play 10 minutes or less a night in the bottom-6 wouldn’t make much sense.