Sean Monahan might be sitting.
Monahan, alongside Trevor Lewis, was the odd-man out at practice yesterday and participated at length in today’s optional morning skate prior to the Calgary Flames hosting the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.
That’s usually the sign of a player getting healthy scratched.
“You’ve got to look at the big picture with Sean for sure,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said. “He had major hip surgery last summer and worked his tail off to come back here and be ready. If you look at his first 20 games or 10 games or so, letting him ramp it up, then I’d say his first 40 were good games. I think he’s struggled offensively the last 20 or 25. I probably should’ve been monitoring him and how much he played a little bit more, giving him some games, I think, where he wasn’t playing. That’s my plan now.
“We played 11 in 20 with two or three late back-to-back nights with travel. I probably should’ve pulled him out of a game somewhere there and let him get a reset. That’s all it is. I’m not overly concerned about it. I still think he’s an important piece of it going forward and he handles it well.”
Monahan’s struggles this season have not been a secret.
Monahan, the No. 6 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, scored 20 or more goals in each of his first seven seasons in the NHL — including an NHL career-high 34 in 2018-19 — before settling with just 10 last year.
He was shut down after 50 games after it was revealed he’d been battling a hip injury for the majority of the season that resulted in season-ending surgery.
The 27-year-old has no points in his past 14 games and one goal — a power play marker — in his past 26. He’s also a team-worst minus-16.
He’s been bumped from the top power play unit to the second squad to off special teams altogether.
Monahan has one season remaining on a six-year contract worth an average annual salary of $6,375,000.
“He’s such a good person off the ice and he is a talented player on the ice,” longtime linemate and friend Johnny Gaudreau said. “Anytime he comes to the rink he’s got a smile on his face and he’s ready to joke here and joke there, get ready to go on the ice and get serious and have a good practice. It’s not the way he’s wanted to go this year but nothing’s changed about him, his personality or anything like that.
“He’s in a different role this year, too. I think people have got to give him the benefit of the doubt here. He’s playing fourth line, fourth line minutes, he’s not on the power play anymore. It’s difficult to go from playing first power play unit and first line and dropping down from that. Personally, just to see him at the rink always with a smile on his face, always in a positive mood, shows what kind of teammate he is and what kind of friend he is and a person you want on your team every single day.”
Monahan, who has just eight goals in 63 games this season, is eighth in franchise history with 212 goals in 654 games.
He’s the Flames leader among active players in that regard.
“I think he’s got to get a reset,” Sutter said. “If you want to be a playoff team you’ve got to maximize your skill set. If you don’t, you won’t. It gets way blown out of proportion here. When it’s bad, it’s terrible. When it’s just okay, it’s great. Players just got to concentrate on what they bring and keep it tight like that.”
It’s also pushed Monahan’s importance on the team further south, too.
“We played 11 in 20 with two or three late back-to-back nights with travel,” Sutter said. “I probably should’ve pulled him out of a game somewhere there and let him get a reset. That’s all it is. I’m not overly concerned about it. I still think he’s an important piece of it going forward and he handles it well.
“He’s got a great attitude. That’s why I don’t have a problem with him.”