What we're seeing from Sean Monahan is a fairly mature, two-way game - albeit against mildly sheltered minutes. There's no doubt that at this point in the season Monahan is making the Calgary Flames a better club, but just what would make for a better development tool for the youngster?
It's the same thing we've all been talking about since the start of the season and, according to Roger Millions, today is finally the day that we're going to find out.
The Case for Monahan to Stay
This is a pretty easy argument, just look at the numbers.
9 GP, 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points.
7 of those 9 points are at even strength.
All 3 assists are primary.
15:46 per game ice-time. 13:25 at ES and 2:20 in PP.
Add all of that together and it looks like you have your 3rd line centre who sees time on the PP. If Bob Hartley puts this kid out with that kind of ice-time it would be fair to say he will benefit greatly from a season with the club.
How on earth can they send him down?
The Case for Monahan to Go
I stand by my belief that he will be better suited to go down - now, preferably, but for sure in time for the World Junior Championships.
We're going to see regression here, but as pointed out to me in last week's article by reader exsanguinator, that even if he regressed to the league average, he'd still probably put up 16-17 goals. An excellent rookie season by anyone's standards. I'd prefer to look at that as 9-10 goals in the remaining 73 games though, and that's assuming he's deployed by Hartley in the same manner.
He's currently seeing more than enough minutes but what happens when their top centre comes back from injury? He'll see less minutes, no doubt.
So what happens when he starts seeing less minutes AND his shooting percentage regresses?
I'll tell you what. An old-school stickler like Bob Hartley is going to start teaching him lessons and he's going to start sitting out some games (not necessarily a bad thing) and then he's going to start giving him 6-9 minutes a night and we're all going to be wondering if he wouldn't be better suited playing 20+ a night and learning to lead a team in junior while getting ready for the World Juniors.
The Flames are also 3-0-1 against the East and only 1-3-1 against the stronger West. Although he's held his own through most of the games, last night he played against the Hanzal line a lot and was -5 on scoring chance differential. He was above water in most of the previous games but likely not playing against centres of Hanzal's quality (Jarrett Stoll, Andrew Cogliano etc).
I'm 100% in favour of sending him down as I believe the points listed above will all happen. For those reasons, I believe today should be the day, allowing the team to slide the start of his entry-level contract to next season; but, in time for the World Juniors and before the important 40-game mark should be the last resort and likely will be a no-brainer when that time comes.
Will I chastise Flames management if they keep him up past 9 games?
Absolutely not, the numbers and play of the kid speak for themselves.
But, when the Flames start to fall in the standings and Monahan's ice-time and production begin to drop, I'd sooner spare him the criticism and the possible slowing development and let him excel in the junior ranks.
Just as I mentioned last week, it is important to remember that regardless of the decision, Flames staff and fans should all be very excited to watch the development of Monahan, who seems like a great 6th overall selection and an exciting prospect for the future.
Until the announcement...