2013 Draft Eligibles: Sean Monahan is the year’s Sean Couturier

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For Ottawa 67’s center Sean Monahan, playing alongside Tyler Toffoli (47th overall, LA, ’10) Shane Prince (61st overall, OTT, ’11), and Cody Ceci (15th overall, OTT, ’12) for his first two seasons in the OHL proved to be valuable for the top OHL forward prospect in this year’s NHL draft. In 127 games playing with the trio of Ceci, Prince, and Toffoli, Monahan registered 53 goals and 125 points. These are impressive numbers for the 6’2 193 pound center from Brampton, Ontario but questions lingered about Monahan prior to the start of the 2012-13 OHL season. Can he do produce without Toffoli and Prince who moved on to start their professional careers? Has his foot speed improved? Does he have the desire to compete? Monahan answered all those questions and more as he showed this season why he’s a potential top 10 draft pick.

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In 58 games this season, Monahan had 31 goals, 47 assists, for 78 points overall putting him 15th in the OHL in scoring. Following the trade of Cody Ceci in January to the Owen Sound Attack, Monahan had 15 goals and 29 points in 29 games. He led the 67’s in goals, point, assists, and power play goals with 15. What makes this all more impressive is he played for an Ottawa team that won only 16 games all season long that finished in the basement of the OHL.

Monahan possesses all the skills needed to be a dominant NHL player, such as solid two-way play, efficiency in the faceoff circle, he’s a wizard with the puck and outstanding on-ice leadership. He’s a big-bodied kid that can play in all zones, and has a certain quiet lethal scoring ability.

Some scouts have questioned his skating ability, including myself, but from what I’ve seen recently his skating is very fluid and he is adept at playing in all situations. He does not do anything flashy or out of the ordinary; instead he opts to keep his game simple. He can even drop the gloves as witnessed in the video below from a game in 2011 against Plymouth.

Monahan was selected to tryout for Canada’s 2013 World Junior team but was cut on the second day of camp. However, he played a tremendous role for Team Canada in 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament netting three points in five games. He also led gold-medal winning Team Ontario at the 2011 World U-17 Hockey Challenge. To me though, Monahan stood out with his play in the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge in August.

As the youngest member of the Canadian team he had two goals and two assists in four games played. When Ottawa was relevant and in the playoffs Monahan has performed well in OHL playoff games. He has recorded 10 goals and 19 points in 22 playoff games. Last season he had eight goals and seven assists in 18 postseason games as the 67′s reached the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Niagara Ice Dogs in five games.

 

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NHL.com has Monahan ranked 5th among North American skaters for their final draft rankings. Our old pal Craig Button from TSN and the NHL network has Monahan ranked 7th overall among all draft eligible players. Every draft class has players who appear to be better or more awesome just because they play on a dominant team. This can lead to criticism and it may also contribute to that player being downgraded or overlooked come draft time. Seth Jones and the Portland Winterhawks are the consensus favorite to win the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon, and the powerhouse Halifax Mooseheads have steamrolled through the QMJHL playoffs to date and are the odds on favorite to represent the Q in the Memorial Cup. (I would pay big money to watch these two teams play in the Memorial Cup Final).

The point I’m trying to make is that Monahan plays in whole different environment than his fellow top prospects and unfortunately I believe that has hampered his draft stock. For example, when ISS ranked Monahan 9th overall behind Sault. Ste Marie. Greyhound defenseman Darnell Nurse and London Knight’s defenseman Nikita Zadorov it had me puzzled as to why. My only reason for that could be because Monahan played on a bottom-feeder team and that scouts are getting much more chances to see Zadarov play in the OHL playoffs with London. Scouts also like to see volume during draft years and watching Ottawa may not provide that. It’s not Monahan’s fault he played on lousy team this year. Still, he’s a darn good player who will make the best of a terrible OHL situation and have a pretty good NHL one in my opinion.

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I see Monahan going anywhere from 5-10 range, but he could fall for the reasons I stated earlier. I’ve seen some people compare him to Jonathan Toews and Jordan Staal. That’s a bit too lofty for my liking. However, I believe he could be this year’s Sean Couturier, a big offensively talented center, whose stock fell not because of his ability but because others were rising.

He also compares quite well with the Flyers young center in terms of trajectory and style of play. The only difference I see is Couturier had all is offensive numbers early and became defensive minded. Monahan has always been real good defensively and became offensive minded. If Monahan falls out of the top 10, he will be the steal of the draft.

A center corps of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, and Sean Monahan sounds pretty good to Flyers fans. I talked with our very own Jared Abbott about Monahan the other day and he would not be surprised one bit if Monahan is the guy the Flyers select. I know Brayden Schenn is a natural center who has played wing at times this season. However, I see him as trade bait in the off season for a defenseman  possibly for Keith Yandle if the Coyotes make him available.  Him along with Couturier are the Flyers best assets when it comes to trade pieces. I know Schenn is only 21 and has tremendous potential but sometimes you have to give up to get.  I’m not saying it’s going to happen but it’s a scenario that the Flyers should consider.

I’m convinced that they won’t pick a defenseman in the first round unless they have a realistic shot at Seth Jones, which does not seem possible right now as Florida and Colorado are the odds on favorite to land Jones. The Flyers like to draft forwards in the first round and ultimately I see them sticking to that philosophy. I’m not a fan of taking a forward this year given the need on the backend, but the Flyers have earned my trust when it comes to selecting forwards in the first round. (See Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Steve Downie, JVR, Sean Couturier and Scott Laughton) Not a bad tack record. I would not be shocked if Monahan is that next guy.