Second Line Centers

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.

Possible Replacements

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.

Sean Monahan

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.

Age Comparisons

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.

Team Structure

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.

More reading…

Chasing the Draft – November 23rd Edition

By Bob Trask – Due to some personal circumstances beyond my control, this edition of chasing the draft is a few days later and shorter than originally intended.

As the season marches on, we continue to see more movement in the projected draft positions of the NHL teams. With most teams having played 18 or 19 games, we are almost 25% into the season and US Thanksgiving is fast approaching. The standings on that holiday is often used as a benchmark for where teams will finish the season so the playoff and draft picture is slowly coming into focus. There can always be outliers but for the most part it is a good indicator of how well or poorly your favourite team will finish the season.

Reverse Power Rankings

The overall points projects the draft position for each team while the week to week change indicates a change in the team’s projected draft position. Team with a positive change (+) rose in their projected draft positions while teams with a negative change (-) fell in their projected draft positions.

Montreal remains in the middle of the pack rising 5 spots to #11 on the draft card after last night’s drubbing at the hands of the Sabres. Florida’s poor showing over the past week has resulted in Montreal’s projected pick acquired from the Panthers rise 8 spots to #15 overall.

Lottery Teams
29+7Arizona 67.8
74-4San Jose 71.2
163-13St Louis84.4
Non-Lottery Teams
1821+3Los Angeles86.6
2019-1New York Rangers90.0
23 NRNASeattle93.0
24NRNANew York Islanders93.9
31NRNANew Jersey120.3

Potential Picks

Because of limited time, I haven’t included potential picks is this week’s rankings and I am currently rethinking that format. Stay tuned in a future post…

More reading…