When the Calgary Flames dealt Sean Monahan to the Canadiens this past offseason, he was considered to be just a cap dump. The Flames even had to throw in a 2025 first-rounder to get the Canadiens to take on Monahan’s contract. However, Sean Monahan has fit in beautifully with the Habs thus far. His resurgence is making this deal look like a steal early on. Monahan is only three years removed from his 82-point campaign. He’s experienced setbacks in his career since but appears to have regained his scoring touch.
Monahan has been flanking Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield on the Habs top line. He’s managed five points in eight games thus far and has been a stable veteran presence for the young Habs. If Monahan can continue his solid play he will up his trade value and potentially fetch the Canadiens a second first at the deadline. However, if Monahan is playing so well is this the route the Canadiens will choose to take?
Options for the Canadiens With Sean Monahan
Trade at the Deadline
If Sean Monahan continues his strong play, he will be an intriguing option for contending teams at the deadline. The Canadiens have an opportunity to acquire a second first-rounder for essentially nothing. In this case, Kent Hughes would look like a genius for flipping a “cap dump” for a first. The 2023 draft is loaded with high-end talent and is projected to be one of the best in recent memory. Even a late first in this stacked of a draft would be huge for the Canadiens. The Canadiens traded Ben Chiarot for a late first last year and it paid off as they drafted young Slovak Filip Mesar. If the team is out of the playoff hunt come the Trade Deadline, expect a similar outcome as Monahan is likely to be flipped to a contender for a late first.
An argument could also be made for the Canadiens to hold on to Monahan past this season. Montreal is a team lacking offensive firepower outside of Caufield and Suzuki. Holding on to a veteran offensive threat who could provide secondary scoring may be in their best interest. The salary cap is expected to rise after this season by up to four million. This jump would provide the Canadiens with the cap flexibility necessary to resign Monahan. If they can ink him to a team-friendly deal, signing the 28-year-old is a viable option. However, if a contender is offering up a first-rounder it would be hard for Hughes to pass that up.
Trade and Re-sign
The final option for the Canadiens is one that we don’t see often in the NHL, in trade and re-sign. Similar to what the habs did with Tomas Plekanec a few years ago, they could flip Monahan and re-sign him in the summer. This would be the best of both worlds as they would be able to acquire assets for him but still keep the player beyond this year. Often times in this scenario, the player has an agreement to re-sign prior to the trade. If Monahan enjoys the city and wishes to re-sign, this could be the best scenario for both clubs.
Monahan’s early bounce-back year has Canadiens fans excited and provides the team with options moving forward. In the end, the Canadiens aren’t likely to contend, however, so if they can flip him for a first they should pull the trigger. But for that to happen, Monahan will need to continue his resurgent play to start the season. In an ideal world, the Habs fetch a first for Monahan and re-sign him in the summer to a team-friendly deal. At only 28, he still has some good years left in the tank, provided he’s healthy. Regardless of the outcome, however, acquiring Monahan on top of a first-rounder for essentially nothing was masterclass work from Hughes.
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