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Versatile centre Sean Monahan's week both "crazy" and exciting

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Sean Monahan (middle) poses with other top prospects Friday in Weehawken, New Jersey (Getty Images).

- With New York's Freedom Tower standing tall in the background, Sean Monahan was doing his best to take it all in.

As hundreds of reporters gathered at the picturesque Lincoln Harbor across the Hudson River, there was something especially real about what he was going through.

"It's crazy," said the wide-eyed 18-year-old. "There's a lot going on and it all happens so quickly. Honestly, though, it's been a great experience and I'm having fun with it."

The 6-foot-2, 187-pound pivot recorded 31 goals and 78 points last season with OHL's Ottawa 67s. The team won only 16 games in 2012-13, but Monahan was one of the lone bright spots, leading the 67s in scoring by 38 points and establishing his name as one of the best prospects in the nation.

Highly regarded as a strong, versatile two-way centre, Monahan is expected to be a Top 10 pick Sunday at the Prudential Center.

Falling in that range and considering each team's needs heading in, Monahan seems destined to be scooped up by either the Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers or Buffalo Sabres.

In Oil Country, General Manager Craig MacTavish has expressed great interest in the club's need to acquire another building block down the middle. If it unfolds that way, the product of Brampton, Ontario would be beside himself.

"It's a Canadian team and I'm a Canadian kid. I grew up watching them," he said. "I went to Edmonton for a visit pretty recently and it's a great city. They've got a great, young team and I think I'd fit in very well.

"But, ultimately it's out of my control. Wherever I go, I go. No matter what I'm looking forward to Sunday and am extremely excited to get drafted."

Of Monahan's 31 goals last year, 15 were scored on the power-play. In addition to his prowess offensively and on special teams, he's an ace on draws, a defensive-zone force and high-level performer in pressure situations.

Along with Ottawa Senators prospect Cody Ceci, Monahan was named co-captain of the 67s back in September of 2012.

"I like and look up to Jonathan Toews the Staal (Eric and Jordan) brothers," Monahan said. "They're good, two-way guys and are great leaders. They play a complete game and I'd say they're my role models.

"I don't necessarily model my game after them, but certainly my character."

Heading into the draft and an entire summer of off-season training, Monahan has put his focus and attention on the most primal skill in hockey. He's already considered to be one of the strongest skaters in this year's class, but there's always room for improvement.

"I'm working hard on my explosiveness," Monahan said. "Once I get that down, then it's about developing my overall skating. I know I'm already a strong skater, but I want to get quicker in all areas of the ice. I haven't experienced it yet, but I know how important that will be at the next level."

Monahan heads into the draft ranked fifth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

-- Ryan Dittrick, | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick
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