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Monahan's future looms as Flames start road trip

Wednesday, 10.16.2013 / 12:30 AM / NHL Insider

By Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

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Monahan's future looms as Flames start road trip
The Calgary Flames will soon have to make a decision on whether or not to keep impressive rookie Sean Monahan with the team.

CALGARY -- Sean Monahan doesn't need a calendar to know there's a decision on his future coming next week.

Having already played five games this season, the Calgary Flames rookie could eclipse the nine-game audition allowed before the first year of his three-year, entry-level contract kicks in during Calgary's upcoming five-game, 10-day road trip that begins Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

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Whether he earns a 10th game or a trip back to the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League remains to be seen. For better or worse, the 19-year-old is well aware he will find out soon enough.

"Obviously I want to close the road trip out with the team, but that's not something I think about," said Monahan, Calgary's first pick (No. 6) at the 2013 NHL Draft. "I just come to the rink and try to do my job every day.

"I'm here to do my job and my part and they're going to make the decision whenever they want to. We'll see what happens."

Should the 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward dress for each of the first four games on the trip, his 10th game is scheduled for Oct. 24 against the Dallas Stars.

"We know how to count to nine, so eventually we'll have a breakfast, a lunch or a dinner," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "I don't know [when], but I'm sure we're going to be talking about it."

The teenager has given the Flames' brass plenty to talk about. Monahan leads the Flames with four goals, and his six points are just one behind Jiri Hudler's team lead. His ice time continues to trend upwards, earning more responsibility and trust from Hartley.

Praise has grown substantially, too.

"His offensive upside is there, that's undeniable," Hartley said after watching Monahan score in Calgary's 5-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 6. "What he offers and what he brings is pretty special for a 19-year-old kid."

"I just, sometimes, pinch myself wondering if I need to check his birth certificate," Hartley told media after a pair of points from Monahan in the Flames' 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens three days later. "The poise that he's showing for a 19-year-old kid. ... He's having fun. He's bringing passion, he's bringing excitement and he's learning. He's a pretty special kid."

The coach didn't need to add much after Monahan scored the game winner with 2:43 remaining in Calgary's 3-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils last Friday, a game that saw Monahan play a career-high 16:31.

"He's a monster player," Hartley said. "He knows where to get open plus every time I saw him with the puck, it seems to find the back of the net. You call this a gifted player. He has that touch. He's a very special young player for us."

Sean Monahan
Center - CGY
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 6
SOG: 13 | +/-: 0
Glowing reviews for a player who isn't necessarily guaranteed to be in the League by the time the Flames return to Scotiabank Saddledome on Oct. 26. Still, Monahan has seemingly passed every test taken thus far with flying colors.

He's preparing for his final exam, his toughest quiz to date.

Monahan will skate opposite the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton and Anze Kopitar -- an all-star trio that averages an imposing stature at 6-foot-4, 222-pounds. He'll also draw shifts opposite the likes of Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Mike Richards, too.

Add in the fact the Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings have the last change as the home team against the Flames, and his final becomes that much more difficult.

But that doesn't faze Monahan, whose immediate future hinges on whether or not he can keep up with the Western Conference's best over his next four games.

"I'm going to try to be the same player I've been and just continue to learn things and build on my game and try to be an everyday pro and let the cards fall where they fall," he said.

Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins