This is the beginning of Sean Monahan’s legacy

At long last, Sean Monahan has signed his second NHL contract. It’s a big one, too; with $44.625 million coming his way over the next seven years, he’s one of the highest paid players on the Calgary Flames.

He’s not the highest paid player per year – that honour goes to Mark Giordano and his $6.75 million cap hit, for now (clock’s ticking, Johnny) – but for now, he’s usurped the title of highest paid forward from Troy Brouwer.

Monahan will take up $6.375 million on the cap for the next seven seasons. He just edges out fellow 2013 draft pick Nathan MacKinnon, who he’s incredibly comparable to. That sets a tone. Gone is the entry-level contract; now it’s time to get serious.

Not that he’s had too many problems with that in his first three years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling Monahan’s entry-level time bad by any means. When trading Jarome Iginla signalled the start of the rebuild, Monahan himself was the tangible evidence of that. 

After years of needing a number one centre, suddenly, the Flames had someone who could finally one day fit that bill – right when their greatest offensive player was gone. Who was he supposed to work with? His rookie year already saw him fifth in team scoring. He most frequently lined up alongside Joe Colborne and Jiri Hudler: the former, a player who ultimately couldn’t keep up with his developmental pace; the latter, someone who helped in the beginning, and yet finds himself still without a contract today.

When Gaudreau came on board, the Flames already had Monahan to take hold of the saviour title. They already had Monahan for him to eventually line up beside. Gaudreau got that luxury; Monahan had to start it off.

So really, that was the start to Monahan’s legacy. But we’re itching to get past the rebuild mark. A sixth overall draft pick is nice, but if it happens again next year, it’s an indication of failure. The Flames need to move on, and Monahan needs to be one of the guys leading the charge.

Not that he should have any problems with that. He was second in team scoring this past season: seven points up on Giordano in one less game played. At this point in time, he’s primed more for offensive situations. The defensive zone is still something of a question mark, but we don’t know how much of that is Monahan and how much of that was Bob Hartley; we’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, it’s going to be hard to criticize him if he keeps hitting the 60-point mark. (He should probably step noticeably above that a couple of times, too; that would be nice.) But now, it’s no longer a pleasant surprise or a bonus when he does: it’s a requirement.

(Maybe not in the strictest sense of the word, but with a raised salary come raised expectations. That’s the nature of being a big money player.)

But legacies aren’t really found in rebuilds. The 2014-15 season may be an exception, but other than that fun, unexpected run, the most recent years of Flames history aren’t going to be particularly fond ones to look back on. Nobody reminisces about rebuilds. Nobody reminisces about losing.

If Monahan is a major player in officially pulling the Flames away from the rebuild stage to the status of contenders – and he should be – then that’s what he’ll be judged on. Success or failure (and at this point, with a productive offseason and young core formed, there’s no real reason to think it won’t be a success in the near future), this is one of the key moments of his career we’ll one day look back on. 

Hopefully, it’ll end with placing his name up there amongst some of the best Flames to ever wear the jersey – because he has the potential to be just that. He’ll be 22 to start next season, entering his fourth year in the NHL, under just his second NHL coach. There’s a lot of growing left to do, but based on where he’s started, we’re probably going to end up happy.

A seven-year, $6.375 million AAV contract says those are the expectations for him. Now, it’s up to him to match them. And there’s no reason to think he can’t.

    • beloch

      Nugent-Hopkins is an interesting comparison. First, here’s a HERO chart comparison. TL;DR: Monahan produces more points, but the Nuge has slightly better possession stats.

      At the end of the 2013-2014 season, and the Nuge’s ELC, he had scored at a pace of 0.67 ppg. He got his $6M/yr contract that summer, and has put up 0.69 ppg since then.

      Monahan has scored at a pace of 0.73 ppg since joining the league.

      Monahan has played slightly more sheltered minutes than Nugent-Hopkins, but he is two years younger still. The Nuge played more minutes last season with Eberle and Hall than anyone else. Those are two great linemates, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Nugent-Hopkins stats take a hit without someone like Hall driving the bus on his line.

      Meanwhile, Monahan has a linemate of similar quality to Hall in Johnny, but one who is less experienced. The revolving door of RW’s last least means that you definitely have to give the edge to Nugent-Hopkins in terms of quality of linemates.

      On the other hand, Monahan spent a lot of time with Brodano as his defenders, while the Nuge had to put up with Edmonton’s dumpster fire of a blueline.

      To sum up, I’m surprised at how comparable Monahan is to Nugent-Hopkins, given that the Nuge was a much hyped first overall pick. He’s making slightly more, but there’s reason to believe he’ll be the better player when he peaks, given that he’s two years younger and already outperforming the Nuge in offensive numbers. His possession needs to improve, but he’s still very young to be playing in the NHL. How often does a 21-year-old play well enough to earn this kind of contract?

      We get to watch Monahan grow and improve as a player with the Flames for the next seven years. This is gonna be good!

  • beloch

    Nugent-Hopkins is an interesting comparison. First, here’s a HERO chart comparison. TL;DR: Monahan produces more points, but the Nuge has slightly better possession stats.

    At the end of the 2013-2014 season, and the Nuge’s ELC, he had scored at a pace of 0.67 ppg. He got his $6M/yr contract that summer, and has put up 0.69 ppg since then.

    Monahan has scored at a pace of 0.73 ppg since joining the league.

    Monahan has played slightly more sheltered minutes than Nugent-Hopkins, but he is two years younger still. The Nuge played more minutes last season with Eberle and Hall than anyone else. Those are two great linemates, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Nugent-Hopkins stats take a hit without someone like Hall driving the bus on his line.

    Meanwhile, Monahan has a linemate of similar quality to Hall in Johnny, but one who is less experienced. The revolving door of RW’s last season means that you definitely have to give the edge to Nugent-Hopkins in terms of quality of linemates. On the other hand, Monahan spent a lot of time with Brodano as his defenders, while the Nuge had to put up with Edmonton’s dumpster fire of a blueline.

    To sum up, I’m surprised at how comparable Monahan is to Nugent-Hopkins, given that the Nuge was a much hyped first overall pick. Monahan is making slightly more, but there’s reason to believe he’ll be the better player when he peaks, given that he’s two years younger and already outperforming the Nuge in offensive numbers. His possession needs to improve, but he’s still very young to be playing in the NHL. How often does a 21-year-old play well enough to earn this kind of contract?

    We get to watch Monahan grow and improve as a player with the Flames for the next seven years. This is gonna be good!

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Hero chart is good but does not measure enough. You are certainly right “the Nuge” had way better linemates. And how about GWG? PP Goals? How about faceoff percentage? Who would you want protecting Johnny? Easy decision to take Monahan at his higher salary 10/10 times.

        • Hockeyfan

          To say that Mcd is the best player after 45 games is nothing but oiler fan fantasy fodder. Year after year other fans hear this nonsense about”oil domination to follow” and year after year oil fans look like utter fools. you would think over the first 3 years oil fans would have learned to have less bravado about the coming season. I personally think JG is a better all around player right now along with about 15-20 other players. You go ahead and base your whole teams success on your latest welfare pick who is all of 19 years old. Humiliation and disappointment do not await you, i’m sure.

          • Arod

            dumbest post I’ve read in a long time. JG is going to get overpaid just like SM is and the Flames are going to limp into the next 6-7 years wondering why they are up against the cap and bottom of their division. Heard it here first folks! Maybe wash-ups like Brouwer and Elliot will get them to the promised land! NOT.

          • MonsterPod

            Guh… Ed is boring. Just go away.

            Why can’t we get Kings fans on here to troll us so I could actually refute them because I know their players.

            What kind of sloshing cast away D are you guys gonna lash this year?

            The problem with Ed is that for years and years they’ve HAD to draft their roster because nobody of any worth would agree to go to that shart city.

            Now you have McSavior, and while I feel bad for the guy, he may be the hinge on which your franchise swings. Let’s hope so, because I’m waxed on this ‘Oilers are garbage yet again’ narrative.

            Congrats on being poised to set an NHL record for crappiness with another whiff on the post season. I actually hope you don’t reach it. But for you to come here or anywhere else and gloat about your team means you must be about 9, friend.

  • MWflames

    7 years is a long time… This team should be just entering it’s window next year too. Maybe not contenders next year, competitive.

    If Jonny gets in for 6 or 7, well have a great window to take care business in the playoffs.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    You may be high on connor mc clavicle but one player can’t do it alone, he needs a real team behind him and in 2 more years he will hold out for that team