The Calgary Flames have been toying with the idea of moving one of their core pieces for what feels like three offseasons now. When discussing core members, people are mainly referring to Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano, and more than likely Matthew Tkachuk. With the Seattle Kraken more than likely taking Giordano, the Flames need to evaluate the forward group and why he shouldn’t be the only core piece they move away from.
The lack of production from the forwards is a cause for concern throughout the regular season but as well at the postseason. Johnny Gaudreau has 8 postseason goals in 30 games. He went without a goal in the 2016-17 as well as the 2018-19 run. He is top five in the league for even strength goal scorers. While he has appeared to have a streaky stretch here and there, you have to consider who he is carrying. While most of the time it is Monahan centering him, he often has a washed up AHL player on the right wing. We’ve seen Zac Rinaldo and Brett Ritchie try to make a permanent home there and it never works.
Adjustments were made when Monahan’s season came to a close. Gaudreau saw time on the top line consisting of Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk. Gaudreau was playing the way one might expect Johnny Hockey to play. When you elevate a player and surround them with similar talent you are setting them up for success rather than holding them back. He had 10 points in his last 10 games. That first line is a recipe for success if you ask me.
Sean Monahan has had an unfortunate string of injuries plague his career. The 26 year old has had a number of surgeries that are a cause for concern for any hockey player. Back in 2016 he needed wrist surgery. At the end of the Flames playoff run in 2018, Monahan disclosed that he needed a number of procedures including, two hernia surgeries, surgically repairing a groin, as well as another wrist surgery. Fast forward to May 2021 and it’s reported that the first round draft pick needed hip surgery.
Expectations heading into the season were high for Monahan. It was time for him to finally take the leap to the top line but alas the season was nothing to write home about. Monahan underperformed with just 10 goals and 18 assists. His CORSI was 55.5% which is just above the 50% threshold. In all honesty, one would expect him to be performing at a higher level.
Assuming Monahan is ready for the season come October, his performance may still be lacking. Recovering from hip surgery takes a while and is not anything that should be rushed. The difference between cleared to play and healed is probably one million miles. We’ve seen players like David Pastrnak come back immediately from hip surgery and have a down year. It took David Krejci two seasons to fully heal and get back up to caliber.
The Flames should have moved Monahan well before this.
His trade value right now is 0. You can’t move a guy who is having that serious of a surgery. Teams don’t trade for a player whose season ended due to an injury. It’s common sense. However, with a string of surgeries and a down year, the Flames are going to be out for some time to come. Hindsight is 20/20. I’m no expert but something tells me that you could’ve seen this coming. It’s going to be harder to move a player with a laundry list of injuries and surgeries than it would have been after the 2018-19 season.
Losing Giordano in the expansion draft does a lot more harm than you might expect, especially now that you can’t move your core’s weakest link. The Flames have their work cut out for them and it’s up to Brad Treliving to take the Flames from mediocre to a competitor.