By Bob Trask – The calls for Sean Monahan to be traded for anything from a first round pick plus prospects to a second round pick or less refuse to die down. Many want general manager Kent Hughes to pull the trigger before a more complete analysis of the situation can be done.
Fans’ arguments are many. It’s a deep draft. Monahan is old (28 years old) and injury prone. The Canadiens aren’t close to being contenders yet. Make the trade while his value is high. And there are many others.
But let’s take a closer look at the situation.
It’s already been pointed out that late 1st round picks have a low probability of developing into a player of Monahan’s quality and even if they do, it takes four to five years before they are ready to contribute in a significant way. While Hughes wants to build a team that can sustain success over a long period of time, it’s doubtful he want to be in a constant state of waiting for draft choices to develop while the team struggles. Counting on a late first round pick to immediately take Monahan’s spot would be s step backward.
A look within the organization also reveals that there is no one close who would be able to replace what Monahan brings. With all due respect to Owen Beck, he needs a couple of years. Even if he makes the squad next year, it wouldn’t be as a 2nd line center. Riley Kidney is skilled but not the physical presence that Monahan brings and could use a couple of years in Laval – for physical development if nothing else. Oliver Kapanen is still plying his traded and developing in Europe. A pick like Adam Fantilli might be able to step in but the likelihood of the Habs choosing top 3 seems remote. Perhaps a trade for a highly rated prospect might help but it would be far from a sure thing.
And it’s more than the on-ice skills that must be considered. Monahan brings an element of leadership to the team. Removing that leaves a void.
The fear of many is that Monahan will be too old before the Habs are ready to compete. A look at some of the second line centers on top contenders may help to dismiss that argument. These are all players who are teams currently in a playoff spot, with the exception of Kadri who played for the Stanley Cup winner last year at the age of 31. At least two of them, Stamkos and Malkin, have suffered through serious injury. So maybe the age/injury argument is overdone.
- Joe Pavelski – Dallas Stars +10 years
- Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins +8 years
- David Krejci – Boston Bruins +8 years
- Jordan Staal – Carolina Hurricanes +6 years
- Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning +4 years
- Nazem Kadri – Calgary Flames +4 years
- John Tavares – Toronto Maple Leafs +4 years
- Brock Nelson – NY Islanders +3 years
Based on this, Monahan has the potential to be a solid contributor when the Canadiens are ready to compete. If it takes them three more years to be competitive, Monahan will still be younger than than everyone on this list and exactly the same age as Brock Nelson is this year.
Every GM has his own vision of how a team is constructed but successful teams often have a blend of youth and experience. As this season unfolds, Hughes will undoubtedly be evaluating the talent on the team along with trying to determine the potential for success in the next couple of years. That evaluation combined with the quality of assets he may be offered in return for Sean Monahan will determine the course of action that he takes.
Nothing is a slam dunk at this point. In the meantime, Monahan’s value has continued to rise, whether it is on the ice or in the trade market.