2014-15 By The Numbers: #23 Sean Monahan

Last season, Sean Monahan introduced himself to the National Hockey League. He was a perfectly adequate center, as long as he was sheltered with lots of offensive zone starts, minutes against other team’s lesser lights, and some good line-mates. He scored many goals, and had a sky-high shooting percentage.

This season? He was thrust into the spotlight as the Flames lost Mikael Backlund and Matt Stajan to injuries right after the season began. In the second year of his entry-level contract, just around his 20th birthday, he became Calgary’s de facto #1 center.

And he didn’t look terribly out of place.

No Calgary Flames forward played more even-strength minutes than Sean Monahan in the regular season. He racked up 1180 minutes, more than 70 minutes more than Johnny Gaudreau, the next most-used forward.

Here’s everyone who played 100 minutes with Monahan this season.

Player Together Apart Diff.
Hudler 46.0% 47.0% -1.0%
Gaudreau 46.7% 46.4% +0.3%
Russell 44.2% 42.3% +1.9%
Wideman 44.1% 42.2% +1.9%
Brodie 46.1% 44.9% +1.2%
Giordano 46.5% 49.4% -2.9%
Glencross 45.0% 46.4% -1.4%
Jones 42.9% 44.5% -1.6%
Engelland 45.9% 39.1% +6.8%
Colborne 47.9% 41.5% +6.4%
Byron 50.5% 45.8% +4.7%
Raymond 44.7% 43.1% +1.6%

It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Basically, most of the good possession players are dragged down by him, most of the bad players are improved by him, and his most common line-mates (Hudler and Gaudreau) are somewhere in the mushy middle.

To be honest, though, a lot of this noise in the data may be explained by how Sean Monahan was used by Bob Hartley. In short? Tough minutes. (At 20.)

Based on the time-on-ice competition metric, no Flames forward played against tough opposition. Bear in mind, Sean Monahan is the youngest regular player on the hockey team. It’s pretty impressive.

Monahan scored 22 goals (and 31 points) in 2013-14. His personal shooting percentage was 15.9%. This season, he scored 31 goals (and 62 points). His personal shooting percentage was 11.9%. He improved his overall Corsi For from 43.8% to 44.7%, which is a pretty impressive improvement when you bear in mind he was thrown into the deep end. His face-offs improved from 45.5% (at even-strength) to 48%. He basically improved in every way he could – by small measures, mind you – despite being placed in much less favourable positions.

His shooting percentage did drop, but look at where he got most of his shots from.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 12.55.25 AM

He’s 20. He played a ton of minutes against the league’s best, and he improved in basically every way he could. Monahan’s a smart player and has managed to use his size to get to the tough areas and score goals consistently over the past two seasons.

As the Flames improve, expect Monahan to get potentially easier ice-time. That said, they can afford to give Sam Bennett easier minutes because Monahan (and Backlund and Stajan) can eat up the tough minutes in almost every circumstance. Monahan was an unlikely success story: a player thrown into the NHL, months after the draft, on a rebuilding team without much forward depth.

Now he’s quietly growing into Calgary’s best center (and he might already be there), and that will definitely help Sam Bennett with his adjustment to the big league.

2014-15 BY THE NUMBERS

#1 Jonas Hiller #19 David Jones
#3 David Schlemko #21 Mason Raymond
#4 Kris Russell #23 Sean Monahan
#5 Mark Giordano #24 Jiri Hudler
#6 Dennis Wideman #25 Brandon Bollig
#7 T.J. Brodie #29 Deryk Engelland
#8 Joe Colborne #31 Karri Ramo
#11 Mikael Backlund #32 Paul Byron
#13 Johnny Gaudreau #33 Raphael Diaz
#15 Ladislav Smid #60 Markus Granlund
#17 Lance Bouma #79 Micheal Ferland
#18 Matt Stajan #86 Josh Jooris
Everybody Else
  • beloch

    There’s going to be some great competition between Bennett and Monahan over the next few seasons. For as long as Gaudreau and Hudler are the only high-end scoring wingers, both Monahan and Bennett are going to do everything they can to be the guy playing with them. Monahan will almost certainly start the season in that role, but Bennett will likely spend some time there too, either when Hartley has the line blender out or when Backlund is inevitably injured and Monahan is moved to the shut-down line.

    Eventually, the Flames will hopefully pick up some more offensively gifted wingers so that they can roll two dangerous lines centred by Monahan and Bennett. With luck, both Bennett and Monahan will be able to make their wingers play above their actual talent level.

    • beloch

      You appear to be right. According to the Flames’ website his regular season sh% went from 15.7% last season to 16.2% this season, and he took a lot more shots this season too.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Monahan is a stud!!!

    Better than any player currently on the Oilers roster.

    (See also:,Gaudreau, Bennett… Let’s not even start with D; Oilers=embarrassing).

    WW

    • The GREAT Walter White

      No GM in the league would trade Nugent Hopkins or Hall for Monahan. I love the kid, but not 1 would do it. If the Oilers would make either trade we should do it 100 times out of 100.

      Feeding trolls with dumb comments is dumb.

      • beloch

        As a fan of both teams, I have to say that I’d do that trade if I were Chiarelli.

        The Nuge arrived in the NHL immediately, as one would expect for a #1 overall pick. He was significantly better in his first season than Monahan was. This season, Monahan obliterated that gap, scoring more points while playing slightly tougher competition and getting substantially worse zone starts than Nugent-Hopkins. The Nuge had better possession stats, but Monahan spent significant time in a shut-down role on a team that was significantly worse than the Oilers at driving possession.

        Monahan was basically as good as the Nuge this season, but he’s a year and a half younger. Nugent-Hopkins will probably be pretty similar next year to how he was this year, but does Monahan have another giant leap forward in him? That higher ceiling is what would make me want to swap these two if I were Chiarelli.

        • wot96

          Does Monahan even need to make another leap? Incremental improvement over the next few years works too, especially with Bennett picking up softer o-zone starts.

          I think the real key to progression at this point in his career is having at least one winger that helps drive possession, like Johnny. It’s just that there is only one Johnny and we need someone else to help drive possession.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Sean Monahan just scored more goals this season than Taylor Hall ever has.

    Remind me again what the heck it is that Hall is supposed to bring, if its not scoring goals, that makes him a better player than Monahan?

  • RKD

    This guy is a stud, so glad we took him over Lindholm. What he’s doing two years into the NHL is remarkable, he’s the anti-sophomore jinx. Instead of a possible let down, what does he do? He goes out and improves as a player plus puts down 31 goals. Centers like this don’t grow on trees, he such an important piece to the Flames now and for many years to come.

  • RKD

    This guy is a stud, so glad we took him over Lindholm. What he’s doing two years into the NHL is remarkable, he’s the anti-sophomore jinx. Instead of a possible let down, what does he do? He goes out and improves as a player plus puts down 31 goals. Centers like this don’t grow on trees, he such an important piece to the Flames now and for many years to come.

  • RKD

    This guy is a stud, so glad we took him over Lindholm. What he’s doing two years into the NHL is remarkable, he’s the anti-sophomore jinx. Instead of a possible let down, what does he do? He goes out and improves as a player plus puts down 31 goals. Centers like this don’t grow on trees, he such an important piece to the Flames now and for many years to come.

  • RKD

    This guy is a stud, so glad we took him over Lindholm. What he’s doing two years into the NHL is remarkable, he’s the anti-sophomore jinx. Instead of a possible let down, what does he do? He goes out and improves as a player plus puts down 31 goals. Centers like this don’t grow on trees, he such an important piece to the Flames now and for many years to come.

  • RKD

    Sean Monahan is a stud, he looks great as a #1C, he improved in all areas of his game. Nice to see not go through the so called ‘sophomore slump’ in his full second season. He put up 30 goals as a 20 year old, center like these don’t grow on trees so we need to keep him for years to come. So glad we took him over Lindholm.