In many ways, with his demeanor, his body language, he reminds me a lot of Joe Sakic. I know that's big shoes to fill and I'm not saying he's going to fill those shoes right away. But we have big plans for this young man. - Bob Hartley on Sean Monahan
REGINA, SK -- One of the most common things asked after a player is drafted is who is his NHL comparable.
People want to know what kind of ceiling a recently-drafted player has and want to know what kind of style he plays. By finding an NHLer with similar traits, one has a better idea of what they can potentially expect out of a draft pick.
When Sean Monahan was selected sixth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, comparisons ranged from Zach Parise, Jonathan Toews, Eric Staal, and Jordan Staal.
Flames head coach Bob Hartley sees Monahan sharing characteristics with another player.
"I commented last night, I said in many ways, with his demeanor, his body language, he reminds me a lot of Joe Sakic," the Flames bench boss said after practice at the Brandt Centre in Regina, SK. "I know that's big shoes to fill and I'm not saying he's going to fill those shoes right away.
"But we have big plans for this young man."
Monahan has been lauded for his character and his leadership skills but those characteristics aren't immediately apparent when you meet him. The 18-year-old has a straightforward, direct way of addressing the media. He doesn't dance around the point - he says what he needs to do before moving on. He is as serious off the ice as he is about perfecting his game on it.
Hartley saw the same thing in Sakic during his tenure as the Colorado Avalanche's head coach.
"It's the same demeanor. Joe Sakic was not a ra-ra guy. Joe Sakic, he was the mirror. I have always said if there are 20 Joe Sakic's on the team, you wouldn't need any coaches because he was always early, was always in the gym. He would come in the next morning after a game and he would tell me, 'At 10:12 of the second period, I lost my man, I made a bad play. Can you show me on the video?' He knew exactly the time. That's the only player that I've coached like this.
"I think that his leadership came by his presence, his poise, by the way that he was doing things. My definition of a true leader is to the do the right things all the time. The right things, the right way, all the time and that's what Joe Sakic did."
Like Sakic did, Monahan is constantly trying to improve every facet of his game. There is no detail too small when it comes to polishing his play and he can be hard on himself if something goes astray. Hartley noted the coaching staff is there to temper that kind of self-flagellation - he is, after all, still a teenager with no NHL games on his resume yet - it is an issue he doesn't mind having.
"It's our job to ease him in but I'd rather try to slow down a thoroughbred than kick a donkey. Trust me, it's much more fun.
"This guy knows he can be the difference and he wants to be the difference."