As his scoring drought hits eight games, Calgary Flames fans should be plenty happy still with the rookie campaign of Sean Monahan.
Monahan, just 19 years of age, has seen the metaphorical well dry up of late. The sixth overall pick of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft last scored in Calgary’s 4-3 win over the New York Islanders on Mar. 7. Don’t think for a second that he hasn’t been improving since then, though.
All rookies experience a learning curve upon arriving at the NHL level. Regardless of whether they last played at the junior hockey level, collegiate, in the American Hockey League or in Europe, the NHL is a league unlike no other. The play is faster, the players are more skilled and the strength and size of the players in unrivaled. Yes, some players, including Monahan to a great extent, can come in and see success right away inside the opposing teams’ blue-line. The larger adjustment, however, will take place on the defensive side of the puck.
Over the past eight games, the extent of his goal drought, Monahan has averaged nearly 19 minutes per game of ice time. While he struggles on offense, head coach Bob Hartley still feels comfortable giving Monahan big minutes because his defensive zone game has improved dramatically over the course of the season. His plus/minus is -13 for the year, but only -2 in the past eight games. Considering the Flames are 25th in goals against, one might think that minus number would be a lot larger, especially with Monahan only contributing two assists in that span.
Monahan’s current tallies of 19 goals and 12 assists in 64 games for the Flames are more than respectable for a teenage rookie. While Flames supporters get giddy thinking of the future and the goal scoring prowess of the 6-foot-2 center, and rightfully so, it’s also important to keep in mind that the Flames coaching staff is cultivating a player who can play a total game — a 200-foot game.
Despite not scoring, there are still positives to take from the caliber of game Monahan is playing.