Sean Monahan. Should he stay or should he go?
Who would've thought the hype could get bigger than that which was thrust upon Sven Baertschi following his introduction to the Calgary Flames two seasons ago in a brief emergency call-up?
Then again, who would've thought Sean Monahan would come in and put up the numbers he has?
There is a LOT of debate on what is the right decision for the team, what will do the most for Monahan's development and I've heard intriguing arguments in both directions.
I'm firmly aboard the back to junior boat. My points are simple; he has been forced to play a couple seasons of junior with a lackluster team and hasn't had the chance to make a playoff run, he was cut from the World Junior team last year and would likely be a shoe-in this Christmas and would stand a good chance of being shipped off to a contender to help in a Memorial Cup run. All of which, in my opinion would be of greater value than slugging away on a lottery team in the NHL. Also, the extra cheap ELC year could prove valuable should the Flames have plans to compete in 3 years time.
The counterpoint to that for many is that if he earns his spot, he should stay. Plain and simple. While that may make sense, we have to remember that he's competing on what will likely be a bottom-5 team so he damn-well better be able to make the cut. It's also pointed out that he may not be an elite prospect and likely won't garner huge dollars for his 2nd deal, add to that the fact that Jay Feaster has shown to be quite solid at locking down affordable bridge deals for his good young players and the possible cap implications don't seem to be a problem.
The most important thing about all of this aside from the fun of having this healthy debate is that it looks like Feaster and the Flames have found a keeper with their 6th overall pick. The decision on what happens next we'll have to entrust to the organization's hockey ops and to Monahan himself.
So far so good.
Hot start for the Flames. Are they the real deal or is it just delaying the inevitable?
This part scares me.
While an actual run at the playoffs with a young and exciting team is something that should intrigue all of us, the fact remains that the Flames have a well below-average roster with average goaltending at best.
We should be happy about the compete level, the fact that the team looks like they don't want to be run over like they were at many times over the past 3 seasons. We should be happy that the defense is working at being able to carry the puck out of the defensive zone (a novel concept) and that the biggest problem this far is holding on to leads (leads!?).
But, the team needs more in the cupboards. It's still not entirely apparent that they have an elite prospect, something to actually build the team around. Monahan and Baertschi look like nice pieces, Poirier and Klimchuk might make it some day and goaltending prospects are deep, giving the team many chances to connect on one. Still, there's no Tavares or Toews, not even a Duchene or Brodin. Without some elite young talent the Flames will eventually be stuck in the mediocre pile, treading water and firing coaches, making feeble attempts at success.
Year two of the tank? It seems inevitable so enjoy the early success and temper your expectations. It's still a lot more fun watching these guys compete than watching the old boys struggle.
Hot Stove, a 1-hour weekly?
It blows me away at how under-utilized Elliotte Friedman is on CBC. We're talking about maybe the best hockey reporter around and he plays second fiddle to a few dolts over on the mother-corp.
Tell me that if you make the Hot Stove into a 1-hr weekly program, airing Tuesday night (maybe eventually against TSN's Wednesday night hockey coverage) that it wouldn't be a ratings hit?
It's a big deal to have a Canadian show hit the 1-million mark in viewers. Only a few programs do it, including HNIC and Battle of the Blades - sense a trend?
Saturday nights do close to 3-million for the early games and somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 to 1.5 mil for the evening games... and what's the best part of all the non-gametime action? Elliotte Friedman and the Hot Stove. Add to that the fact that his 30 thoughts column is the best there is and you've got the makings of a hit.
CBC. Give this man an outlet to shine. If you don't, someone else is going to and you'll be stuck giving analysis to your audience with Glenn Healy and P.J. Stock... yikes.
A 1-hr weekly talk show that would feature Elliotte doing his thing and breaking down possible transactions, rule changes, GM comments and other hockey-related issues would become a must-watch for all fans - the 1-million mark in Canadian viewers would be surpassed airing it on a Sunday afternoon, let alone primetime.
Imagine that. Wouldn't you love that show? Don't even try to tell me you wouldn't watch it.