The Calgary Flames are coming off a disappointing season, falling to 25th in the National Hockey League standings a year after advancing to the second round in the playoffs. Their biggest weakness this season was goaltending, but their most important task this off-season is to sign Sean Monahan to a new contract. Monahan is currently a restricted free agent, so there is no worry of him walking away for nothing this summer, but what is it going to cost to keep the 21-year-old long term?
How Much Will It Cost The Calgary Flames To Sign Sean Monahan?
Monahan was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, he made the team immediately with a very strong first training camp, scored 22 goals as a rookie and has cemented his role as the team’s first line center for the present and long into the future.
Having seasons of 22, 31 and 27 goals during his entry-level contract has Monahan in very rare company. Only nine other players scored at least 22 goals in each of their first three seasons in the salary cap era, including first overall picks Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares and Steven Stamkos as well as Jamie Benn, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Thomas Vanek and James Neal.
Pretty elite company for Monahan as a goal-scoring youngster.
Monahan has also impressively topped the 60-point barrier twice in his first three NHL seasons. Only 11 players have scored 60 points in a pair of seasons before turning 21 since 2005, with Monahan’s 62 and 63 point seasons putting him just behind Anze Kopitar and Toews in production by players of a similar age. Once again, impressive company.
Having such a productive young center who is capable of playing well at both ends of the ice is great news for Flames fans. The only downside is it is now time to sign Monahan to a new contract, and it will eat up a ton of cap space.
But how much will it cost to sign Sean Monahan?
Looking back at the contracts that Kopitar and Toews had when they held similar leverage, there’s an idea of what Monahan can reasonably demand.
During his first three years in the league, Kopitar had goal totals of 20, 32 and 27, which is almost identical to Monahan’s current production. Kopitar had reached a career high of 77 points, while Monahan’s best season is 63, but the Los Angeles Kings were yet to find the playoff success they would in the future and Kopitar had not played a postseason game in his first three seasons.
Kopitar signed a seven-year contract with the Kings that came with an average cap hit of $6.8 million per season. Kopitar was a year older during his entry level deal because he played one more season in Sweden before coming to the league, and he had 125 assists compared to Monahan’s 79 during the three season.
However, in 2009-10, the first year of Kopitar’s extension, the salary cap was just $56.8 million, and will be as much as $15 million higher next season when Monahan’s extension kicks in. This doesn’t change the production of each player, but salary demands climb with the cap, meaning a player with Kopitar’s status could get a slightly higher salary today.
Toews name has become synonymous with leadership and winning. That all started with a Stanley Cup ring earned in his third NHL season. This certainly upped his contract ask coming out of his entry level deal, but his regular seasons were quite similar to what Monahan has produced thus far.
In his first three seasons, Toews scored 83 goals, just three more than Monahan, and added 108 assists. Monahan’s 67 helpers in his second and third seasons aren’t far off from Toews’ 78.
Toews really produced in the postseason and had scored 42 points and won six playoff series coming out of his first contract. Monahan has just six points in 11 career playoff games.
Toews signed a five year contract at $6.3 million per year with the Chicago Blackhawks after leading them to their first Stanley Cup win in 49 years. His regular season success was slightly greater than Monahan’s, but his playoff success was far greater than anything Monahan can claim.
Again, the cap has gone up more than $10 million since 2010, so players can ask for a sliver of that piece as well. Monahan certainly isn’t Toews, but it isn’t all Monahan’s fault that the Flames weren’t in a position to have more post-season success the past three seasons.
Comparing Sean Monahan to Toews and Kopitar seems absurd today since both have gone on to lead their teams to multiple Stanley Cups and they will each earn at least $10 million for the foreseeable future.
However, when breaking down their production during the first three years of their careers, it is a lot closer than one might think. Monahan’s strengths are his goal scoring ability and his two-way game. Compared to the beginning of Toews and Kopitar’s careers, he is not lagging far behind in these areas.
Due to this, the Flames could sign Sean Monahan to a five year deal at an annual average salary of $6 million this summer.
Flames fans can only hope Monahan’s career arc continues to mirror those of Toews and Kopitar and he leads the franchise to a few Stanley Cups in the near future.