It was a tough choice between Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm for the Flames' first selection in the 2013 NHL entry draft, but ultimately the choice came down to three things that the organization has touted for some time now: Monahan's size, the fact that he is a versatile, natural centre and his age (the 67s co-captain is one of the oldest players in this year's draft and considered to be one of the most NHL-ready).
Monahan's game has been consistently described by scouts as well-developed and complete in every area, but not flashy or "explosive." He projects as a first-line centreman who can win faceoffs and is defensively capable, and despite his 78 points in 58 games, was quite possibly held back by his less than stellar teammates in the OHL this past season.
From Flames Nation's Kent Wilson:
His team, the Ottawa '67s, was one of the very worst clubs in the OHL this time around, however, managing just 16 wins in a 68 game season and ending up with a goal differential of -115 (!). The next best scorer on the club accumulated just 40 points, a full 38 points (!) behind Monahan, who was basically a one man show up front for Ottawa all year.
...Monahan's NHLE of 33 nevertheless puts him in good company historically, including guys like Rick Nash (33), Dustin Brown (32) and Mike Richards (32). Keep in mind, however, Monahan's output was probably suppressed by the low quality of his teammates this season - on a better team, it's very likely he's an 80-or-90 point player this season, so his NHLE might be understating his real offensive talent.
As Kent shows, if Monahan had played in the NHL in his draft year, he would have accumulated 33 points, which compares him pretty favourably to some of the current heavy-hitters in the big league.
The biggest concerns with Monahan at the moment are his average skating abilities and the fact that he scored more points on the powerplay than at even strength last season, which could also potentially speak to the poor quality of the team he played on.
Overall, however, the consensus seems to be that Monahan is the real deal, and for a team like the Flames who will likely not be able to move up higher in the draft to select a sure bet like Jones or MacKinnon without sacrificing what few pieces they do have to build around (i.e. Brodie, Backlund or Baertschi), that's good news.
It also bodes well for them that Monahan, if they do select him, will likely be among the most physically mature of their recent prospects; at 6"2 and nearly 200 lbs. and as one of the older players in this year's draft class, he could be ready to step in and offer a helping hand if needed as early as next season--if not with the Flames, then with the Heat.