Sean Monahan: The Decline of a Former First Center

Sean Monahan: The Decline of a Former First Center

Though he’s only 27, Montreal Canadiens newcomer Sean Monahan has already played 656 games in the National Hockey League (NHL) during which he’s seen his star fade… and almost die.

• Also read: Sean Monahan traded with the Canadians

Here are five things you should know about the Canadian center, once recognized as a top line player on the Bettman Tour.

In the NHL at 18

In 2013, Monahan was picked sixth overall by the Calgary Flames – three notches behind Jonathan Drouin – and was called up to his NHL debut a few months later at the age of 18. He will spend the entire season in the city of Alberta, scoring 22 goals and 34 points in 75 games and not making a single meeting with the Flames Farm Club.

A scorer of 30 goals

Beginning in his second season in the league, Monahan embarked on a five-year streak of threading the needle at least 27 times each year. In 2018-2019 he had by far the best season of his career thanks to a collection of 34 goals and 82 points. Since then, Monahan has fared much less well, recording just 40 goals and 99 points in 185 games.

Subscriber to the infirmary

His stats don’t show that, having played at least 70 games in seven of his nine NHL seasons, but Monahan does have a serious medical history. His ordeal began in 2017 when he underwent surgery on his left wrist. The following year, he went under the knife four times and healed two herniated discs, another wrist problem, and a groin injury. He finally underwent surgery on his left hip in 2021, and then on his right in 2022.

A dizzying fall

Slowed down by injuries, Monahan has gradually diminished his role since the 2019-20 season. While Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund were surrounded by talented wingers like Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane, the Brampton native was used in the Flames’ third and fourth units. Last season, he was even dropped from the squad by head coach Darryl Sutter, who was unhappy with Monahan’s meager performance (23 points in 65 games).

A colossal contract

In 2016, when his entry-level deal with the Flames expired, Monahan signed the lower chunk of a seven-year, $6.375 million-per-year deal. If that pact initially made Brad Treliving look like a good negotiator, today he’s more of a blot on his record. After the departures of Tkachuk and Gaudreau and before the signing of Nazem Kadri, no player was paid as well as Monahan for the Flames.