The Calgary Flames have two very important issues that require attention. Center Sean Monahan and forward Johnny Gaudreau require new deals as RFAs and neither will come cheaply.
The tendency in today’s NHL seems to be the phasing out of bridge contracts. With that in mind, it seems unlikely either player will be given a short-term contract and avoiding a bridge deal is the correct way to go if you’re the Calgary Flames. Both Monahan and Gaudreau are franchise building blocks and in their relatively young careers have provided enough evidence that it would be wise to lock them up – for six or seven years at a minimum.
Sean Monahan’s Skill
While clearly talented, posting back-to-back 60-plus point seasons, Monahan possesses arguably less natural skill than Gaudreau. Gaudreau is the flashier player, the one you buy a ticket to see; while Monahan is the player who somewhat quietly pushes your franchise forward. If you’re not from Calgary and don’t see the team on a regular basis, you might be surprised to read Monahan’s stat line, which reads like a proven number one pivot – 22 goals as a rookie, 31 the following season and 27 in 2015-16.
This isn’t to say that Monahan comes completely void of highlight-reel plays –his video reel stacks up against some of the best. But, like any defenceman was in Montreal or will be in Nashville, or like Jonathan Toews is to a Patrick Kane in Chicago, the skillset or marketability of the faces of your franchise can make, or in this case, help the workhorses go a bit more unnoticed. Sean Monahan is that workhorse.
When compared to Gaudreau, Monahan’s lack of “must see” television doesn’t make him any less valuable. Monahan is a leader and a skilled, top-flight center; which according to history and the laws of supply and demand can be harder, if not nearly impossible for teams to acquire, without first drafting and developing them. First line centers simply don’t fall off trees in the NHL and at only 21 years of age, it’s reasonable to think the Flames have only scratched the surface of what Sean Monahan can provide.
Sean Monahan’s Worth
But to predict what Monahan is worth means taking a look at recent signings and players in a similar position over the past two to three seasons. Similar deals seemed to start in Edmonton – a place I’m clearly familiar with as an Edmontonian. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were each handed $6 million contracts at a young age, skipping right over their RFA bridge years into longer-term deals.
This past summer Nathan MacKinnon was given a $6.3 million per year deal over seven years. Mark Scheifele was given $6.125 over eight years in Winnipeg and Aleksander Barkov $5.9 million over six years. Looking at total points and games played, Monahan ranks higher than all three and is arguably as valuable as any of the Oilers just mentioned.
The market here suggests that Monahan will get a seven-year deal, somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.25 million per season. The team can go as high as eight years, and as high as $6.5 million and that shouldn’t be considered an overpayment. If Calgary can do so, they’ll likely try to stay just north of $6 million and anything less is a steal, no matter what the term.
In any respect, it will be a nice payday for Sean Monahan. He’s clearly been one of Calgary’s best forwards the past three seasons and he’s also clearly earned it.