There has been plenty of discussion as of late that the Calgary Flames will likely have a quiet deadline due to having very little cap space available. Most believed that the acquisition of Tyler Toffoli was certainly the biggest, possibly the only deal that general manager Brad Treliving would be making this season. According to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, that may not be the case.
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Speaking on Calgary’s Fan960 on Tuesday, Seravalli mentioned the fact that he believes the Flames may still be considering making another big move ahead of the March 21 deadline. In order to do that, of course, they would have to free up some money by moving out a contract, and according to Seravalli, that contract may be Sean Monahan’s.
Monahan’s Struggles Becoming a Serious Issue
At one point in his career, Monahan was one of the Flames’ most consistent offensive producers. He was a player who could be counted on to put up well north of 20 goals every season. Lately, that hasn’t been the case. Last season’s 10-goal, 28-point output was concerning but was chalked up to a hip injury that required surgery. Things have failed to get any better since, however.
In 59 games this season, Monahan has just eight goals and 22 points, along with a plus/minus of -15. Plus/minus can certainly be a flawed stat, but under head coach Darryl Sutter’s defence first approach, it is very concerning. His -15 is by far and away the worst on the Flames’ roster and makes him just one of five current players on the team to not be in the plus territory.
As a result of his struggles, many in the Flames fanbase are hoping he gets traded, though most expected it would happen this offseason. With guys like Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk needing contract extensions, Monahan seemed like an obvious choice to move in order to make room. However, very few thought it was a possibility he would get moved in season.
Flames May Look to Add Second Line Centerman
Entering the 2021-22 season, Monahan was viewed as the team’s number two centerman behind Elias Lindholm. He has been given opportunities in that role, but with his struggles, he now finds himself on the team’s fourth line. That has meant that Mikael Backlund has been tasked with filling the second-line position, something that he isn’t all that suited for at this point in his career.
Though Backlund has been a very dependable NHL player for a long period of time, he is best suited at this point in his career as a third-line centerman, one who can provide secondary scoring while playing a sound defensive game. What this is meant to suggest is that, if the Flames are to go on a long run this postseason, they need to try their best to find a legitimate second-line centerman, and according to Jeff Marek, that is exactly what they are looking to do.
Marek brought up the idea on his show just over a month ago that the Flames may be interested in adding Christian Dvorak. The 26-year-old is struggling in his first season with the Montreal Canadiens, but he played on a line with Matthew Tkachuk on the London Knights and had some solid years with the Arizona Coyotes. He is currently in year three of a six-year deal that carries a cap hit of $4.45 million, which is nearly $2 million less than Monahan’s $6.375 million hit.
Some may argue the fact that Dvorak’s numbers to this point in his career also represent more of a third-line centerman, but it is important to note how poor the Coyotes’ rosters were during his five seasons with the team. Aside from an injury-riddled 2018-19 campaign, he was able to score at least 15 goals in all of his seasons in Arizona and is capable of providing more offence than Backlund at this point in his career.
Moving Monahan Difficult but Not Impossible
Of course, all of this looks past the fact that making these deals happen is much easier said than done. While adding Dvorak is likely something Treliving could pull off if he wasn’t against the cap, moving Monahan is much trickier.
As mentioned, his production has fallen off hard over the past two seasons, and he still has another season after this on his contract. On top of that, he also has a modified 10-team no-trade list. It is possible the Canadiens could be one of those 10 teams, especially given their spot in the standings, but it’s worth noting many current and former Habs have been very vocal on how great of a city it is to play in. That chatter may entice the one-time elite sniper to give it a shot. It is also entirely possible that the negative talk surrounding him both this season and last has him wanting a fresh start, regardless of where that may be.
Interestingly enough, the Canadiens currently have over $6 million in cap space, meaning they would have no problems taking on Monahan’s salary from a financial standpoint, especially if it meant Dvorak was going the other way. There would certainly need to be other incentives for them to take on this deal, such as draft picks and/or prospects. But if Treliving truly does want to go all in this season, this is something he should look hard into if he hasn’t yet already.