Monahan – Should he Stay or Should he Go?



Only one thing is certain as debate continues over whether Sean Monahan stays with the Flames past his ninth game or heads back to junior to resume his role as captain of the Ottawa 67s – whatever the Calgary Flames braintrust decides, it will be based on Monahan’s development as a hockey player, and not the team’s financial bottom line. It will have nothing to do with a contract that is at least three years away from being negotiated.

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All this talk about sending him back to junior just to avoid burning the first year of his entry-level deal is utter nonsense.

The Flames ownership group is willing to spend to the salary cap ceiling every season. They have only two contracts costing more than $5 million at the moment, and one of those comes off the books this summer.

There’s no reason to look at Monahan as anything but a future cornerstone for the franchise. If the team keeps him and has to shell out big money three years from now instead of four, five, or six, they’ll do it happily — the same way they’ll gladly pay top dollar for T.J. Brodie’s services in two years after inking him to a more affordable bridge deal this offseason.

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Money is not an issue. A member of the organization confirmed as much to me this week.

Monahan becoming a money player is the only concern. Hockey is the sole factor in the club’s consideration of what to do with their impressive asset. They will do whatever they believe to be in the best interests of Monahan’s continued development as a key piece of the franchise’s future.

That doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to stick around this year, though. If general manager Jay Feaster and president of hockey operations Brian Burke — in consultation with their coaching staff — decide that another year dominating at the junior level is better for Monahan in the long run, they won’t hesitate to ship him back to the nation’s capital despite his early success on the scoresheet in the NHL so far.

Early Season Returns

There’s no doubt the sixth-overall draft pick is a long-term keeper. He already looks the part of a professional.

Earning points in the first five games and netting goals in his last four prior to both of those streaks coming to an end in Anaheim Wednesday night, Monahan’s hot start to the season seems to indicate that he can contribute.

Advanced stats don’t necessarily support sustainability right away, but history dictates the kid is pretty clutch when needed most. However, some doubts may finally be creeping in.

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The thrill of making the roster out of training camp is wearing off, the travel is getting tougher, and so are the opponents — which means Monahan’s production is bound to level off.

He played a little more than 15 minutes against the Ducks and didn’t take a single faceoff in the dying minutes of the third period with his team trailing by a goal. It was clear head coach Bob Hartley decided to shelter his prospect. That’s all normal for a teenager trying to jump to the NHL from the junior ranks.

These are valuable teaching opportunities at the game’s highest level. There will be plenty more to come this week as we approach the nine-game threshold.

The Ingredients for Success as a Young Player

Strength, intelligence, maturity, skill, mental toughness. physical endurance. Each of these assets contributes to the evaluation of whether or not a young player can hack it in the NHL early on.

At 6-foot-2, 185 lb., Monahan has the physical attributes to withstand a yearlong beating with the big boys. His skill and on-ice intelligence are obvious, as is the maturity he displays in front of and away from the media. He is a young leader in the making.

If he sticks, there will be some serious ups and downs in both his play and the team’s performance. The organization has to decide quickly whether or not he has the mental toughness to withstand the highs and lows of a full season on a potentially struggling squad, without having his confidence and development affected.

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There’s also the Sven Baertschi Syndrome to consider. His early success in a brief appearance two seasons ago led to a sense of entitlement for the young Swiss playmaker, and he didn’t work hard enough to duplicate the results last year. He’s come around a little more recently, in part because of his pairing with Monahan. If you chalk up Baertschi’s struggles to mild immaturity, you probably don’t believe that will be an issue with Monahan.

The Decision Within the Decision

If the Flames do keep Monahan for the duration of the season, it doesn’t mean he won’t have a chance to wear the Maple Leaf across his chest at the world junior tournament come Christmas.

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Brett Connolly, and the Ducks’ Devante Smith-Pelly are a couple of the most recent players to be loaned toe the world junior cause by their NHL clubs.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman didn’t see it as a step back for Connolly.

"It’s important for these young guys to play in these big events in pressure games. They make you better,” Yzerman told the St. Petersburg Times at the time. “We still want him here, but what’s best for Brett Connolly in the long run is best for us all. I’m confident this is the right thing for him."

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The Flames will do the same thing for Monahan’s development, regardless of how it affects the business side of things.

Around the Nation

  • MichaelD

    I haven’t read every single comment here, but judging on the 23 trashes on the Kent’s first comment (second of the thread) as well as a few of the last articles regarding Monahan. I think I can confidently say this, plus I just wannna say my piece.

    It’s pretty funny how the general perspective has changed around here on Monahan. A few months ago it was Kent who wrote an article explaining the ELC deal and how it would be more financially efficient to send him down no matter what, and everyone bought in. Everyone who opposed this was ripped apart and people cited every possible worst case scenario (Gagner). A few games in Monahan has a few points, and now someone who says he should still get sent down gets trashed and ripped apart. These people are disregarding the statistics, that not too long ago based their argument on.

    So can we throw away the small sample sizes stuff, advanced statistics stuff, and the people saying stupid hockey knowledge stuff (I know must of us have played hockey and know the dynamic of a dressing room) away, and all agree that we wanna see Monahan play on Calgary for the season because it gives some excitement and its fun too watch.

    By the way I don’t mind the advanced statistics stuff I don’t mind reading about it in articles on here, It just bugs me when someone quotes that stuff too prove something like maturity.

  • loudogYYC

    90% of the season has yet to be played, Monahan was drafted just 4 months ago and we’re in year 1 of a rebuild.

    If the Flames can’t be patient now, it doesn’t bode well for the future when Monahan, Beartschi and all other prospects become established pros with above average NHL salaries. He would probably do ok if he stayed up, but there’s no sense in putting 1 players interest ahead of the teams. They already did that with Iginla and it didn’t work as wanted. I say send him down after 9.

    • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

      Agree. We have very small sample size, high shooting pctg, low Corsi and sheltered minutes. I love what I see and am excited for the future but really think he needs one more year in junior.

      • RedMan

        my guess is that he (&every other rookie) will have sheltered minutes his first full year or 2, or 3.

        his minutes will be sheltered this year and if he goes back to jr his minutes will be sheltered next year.

        will anotther year in jrs mean he doesnt need sheltering his rookie year? if so send him now dont let him play anymore!!!! 😀

    • RedMan

      why send him down? not surei understand you on the why part.
      is it because of ELC management? or
      you think it will delay or hurt his development? or
      he will develop better over the next year in the CHL??
      he brings no value in the nhl this year?

      I am just trying to wrap my head around the send him back idea… seems the two main arguments to send him back are
      1 – ELC wizzardry
      2 – his development suffers in the NHL

      please help me better grasp this send him back ideas…


      • loudogYYC

        I talked about being patient, that’s basically my argument. So far he has shown promise, not dominance. Actually he’s never shown dominance at any level yet, so why are we in a rush to keep him in the NHL when he has a chance of becoming dominant in the OHL/WJC/Memorial Cup.

        ELC management is important, as we can’t predict who will earn what in the future, but by now it’s pretty clear that cap flexibility is as important as having the money to spend in the first place. Have a look at Philadelphia, Toronto and shortly Edmonton. They have the cash to spend, but not the permission per se, they shot themselves in the foot by not being patient and it reeks of poor management.

        Make more sense?

    • Parallex

      Just saying what? Nobody is saying that the Flames won’t be able to pay him whenever he starts getting paid the big bucks. Eventually the Flames will be a cap team again and it’s better for the team to have as many options as possible and they’ll have less options sooner if Monahan doesn’t go down.

      Seriously, he’s not Crosby… there is nothing bad about sending him back to junior for his age 19 year.

  • @TACOcurt

    seriously people stop worrying about his stupid contract. He should play where he should play and that’s that.

    ohhhh but he’s playing sheltered minutes here….

    ummm no kidding people he’s a rookie, pretty damn rare for a rookie not to be. If his development is better served being here then he should stay.

    also it’s not the same thing for his development going down to jr. playing against kids is great and all but playing against a higher level often brings athletes to a level they didn’t know they had (been there done that).

    if he’s got the smarts and the ability and maturity he should stay crying about contracts is stupid, it’s not mismanagement to play someone who deserves it. It’s mismanagement to pay someone for future production like our friends to the north. that’s just stupid and feaster has already shown he won’t do that. Brodie would be making 4.5 mill a year at least right now if he played for the oilers.

  • seve927

    Ramo to start, the deck up front reshuffled, Butler still to dress.(ahh)I guess we need to have patience. Heat lost last night 4-3, Hankowski had another goal playing with Grandlund and Furland.

    I really hope there is some plan for development. maybe every 16 games we need to see a shuffle of those guys we can move. Most of us are pretty sure what Street is a utility center with a replacement ceiling. We still need to see Colborne a bit more but at some point we will need to how Knight, Horak, Rhino and Jooris are developing.

  • seve927

    There is almost no way Monahan’s ELC could possibly be an issue. Unless the rebuild goes horribly wrong and none of the guys we draft in the next two or three years are playing within four years (not to mention recent draft picks Poirier, Klimchuk, Roy, Gillies, Jankowski, Sieloff, Kanzig, Gilmour), they will have plenty of guys on ELCs. I defy anyone to lay out a realistic scenario where it could actually become an issue and make a difference. Or unless of course you think the rebuild is complete and we don’t need to draft anyone else to be playing in 4 years time.

    Because bonuses now don’t count against the cap, the ELC’s are cheaper than they’ve ever been, so it’s going to be awfully hard for a team starting a rebuild to have a cap problem within 3 years. The only way it becomes an issue is if they have to abandon the rebuild and try to build completely around Monahan, Baertschi, Brodie, Backlund and a bunch of high priced UFAs.