This week's Capped discusses Sean Monahan, and his worth/cost in cap leagues.
After being drafted sixth overall in 2013, the 22-year-old Sean Monahan is now the first line centre for the Calgary Flames, and he desperately needs to start producing. At the time of writing, Calgary is sitting at 28th in the entire league, with the second-worst goal differential of the entire NHL. Through the first 17 games, Monahan has produced way below expectations points-wise, and fantasy-wise, points are really all he produces anyways. He is the ideal player for points-only fantasy leagues, but in any kind of league that counts secondary categories like hits or blocks, Monahan loses a lot of value. So when he is not scoring either, then his value is pretty much sunk.
The previous two seasons, Monahan produced at a rate of 63 points per season, while only missing one game. As of Wednesday morning, he is on pace for 29 points, which is less than half of his previous norm. His shot count is down, averaging fewer than two shots a game, but his shooting percentage is actually higher than normal. While the high shooting percentage may seem like a red flag, all of his other luck metrics are screaming bad luck, so maybe that is all it is, and he just needs a few more bounces to go his way.
Over the course of the season, Monahan’s most frequent line-mate has been Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau is a very skilled player that is also a very one-dimensional, points-only producer for fantasy purposes. He has also been struggling. Undoubtedly though, Gaudreau is the one that carries the Flames offensively. It has also been put out there in the past, that Gaudreau actually carries Monahan as well. But how much credence can be put into that?
The numbers dive
Apparently there is quite a lot of weight to the statement of Gaudreau carrying the Flames and Monahan. Of Monahan’s six points so far this season, five of them Gaudreau also recorded a point on, and all six of them saw Gaudreau on the ice as well. On the other end of the spectrum, when the two have not been on the ice together over the last year and a half, Gaudreau’s possession and Corsi numbers barely change. However, without Gaudreau, Monahan seems to become one of the lower tier centres in the league.
Corsi percentage from the 2015-2016 season:
Gaudreau with Monahan – 49.9%
Gaudreau without Monahan – 47.2%
Monahan without Gaudreau – 36.2% (!!)
Wow is that ever a staggering difference! It’s a good thing that Monahan is signed to a seven-year deal already, covering the six years that Gaudreau has on his deal. They both signed new deals this summer, and both could be considered bargain deals in points only leagues when compared to the contracts of other star players. The two should continue to see the majority of their time together, over the course of their young careers. They signed very similar contracts this summer, and have said that they envision playing with each other “for the next 10 years”. Playing with Gaudreau would be what Monahan needs to keep up the numbers that make him worth the $6,375,000 that he makes per year until the 2022-2023 season.
In leagues where peripherals such as hits, blocks and penalty minutes are counted, Monahan is definitely below average. Four hits in the last 10 games is not going to cut it, and neither will four penalty minutes and a measly two blocks in that same time frame. The points are nice when they are coming, but otherwise, it makes Monahan tough to roster when there are so many categories to fill. The faceoffs are nice in leagues that count them, but there is also the cross point, that there are so many centres already, that the faceoffs really don’t have all that much extra value. Thus it becomes a stat that really doesn’t increase his value at all from where it is already.
The last member of the top line in Calgary has been a revolving door of mediocrity since Jiri Hudler and his 70-point season in 2014-2015. This season, the most common line-mate of Gaudreau and Monahan has been Alex Chiasson. Chiasson has a career high of 35 points, and only a total of 40 over the last two seasons. He doesn’t exactly make a very dangerous completion of the trio. Kris Versteeg has also seen a fair amount of shifts with the Gaudreau/Monahan duo, but he hasn’t produced much either. If ever a proper power forward was placed on this line (oh I don’t know, maybe Calgary’s second line RW Troy Brouwer fits the bill) then we could see a real uptick in points from the dynamic duo.
In addition to the line-mate troubles, power play struggles could have even more to do with the scoring slump. Calgary is last in the league in power play efficiency, running at 8% right now. Over the course of last season, it was more than twice as efficient, with the Flames having scored on 17% of their power plays. Had the power play run at 17% efficiency to this point in the season, there would be an extra five goals to go around, and knowing the Calgary power play, that would be at least an extra three or four points for Monahan and Gaudreau. Really that difference would put them right back almost on pace with where they should be in terms of point production.
Between line-mate shuffling, the power play clicking, and a swing in luck, Monahan is in line to see his point totals balance out over the season. He will likely again finish with low 60s in points this season, but alongside Gaudreau, he has the potential to put up 70 in a good season. Unfortunately, Monahan doesn’t produce any secondary stats to keep owners happy during the slumps, but the best is yet to come from the 22-year-old centre.
In cap leagues that value points highly, now is the time to buy, as he should be solid value moving forward, but in leagues with a strong multi-category component, he makes for a hold at best. Hopefully Monahan and his fantasy owners don’t have to wait too long for him to bust the slump. With a lot of good matchups coming in December and January, especially with the majority of the games at home, it would be a good setup for Monahan, Gaudreau, and the rest of the Flames to go on a nice streak.
As always, comments are welcome, and thanks for reading!
Editor’s Note: Submission of this column came before news of Gaudreau’s finger surgery was released.
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