The Montreal Canadiens made a great trade last offseason when they acquired Sean Monahan from the Calgary Flames. The Flames just wanted to clear his cap space off their books, so they added a 2025 first round pick to Monahan and sent that package to Montreal for nothing at all in return.
The Canadiens had the cap space so they acquired a first round pick just for taking on Monahan’s contract. Then, the center who had battled injuries in the past bounced back early in the 2022-23 season and looked like a pretty valuable NHL player for a while.
Unfortunately Monahan was injured yet again and missed a significant portion of the season. While he was on the ice, he put up decent production, proved to be a really good faceoff guy, and was a valued leader on a team with many young players.
Monahan turned 28 at the start of the season, and went out and re-established some value by scoring six goals and 17 points in 25 games. He was playing so well, it began to look like the Canadiens would get another big return for him at the trade deadline to add to the first round pick they had already acquired just for taking on his contract.
That was before he got hurt though. His season ended early, and rather mysteriously, but there was no trade to be made when the deadline arrived. The regular season ended without him returning and it appeared his time with the Canadiens was up. But that might not be the case after all.
Chris Johnston of SDPN Sports commented on the Chris Johnston podcast that the Canadiens and Monahan could agree to another contract before next season. He says it is not impossible that Monahan returns to Montreal, nor is it a guarantee, but there has been some discussions between player and team and it could lead to an extension.
That makes a lot of sense, but it would have to come at a significant pay reduction. Monahan earned $6.375 against the cap last season but struggled in his final few years in Calgary and has battled numerous injuries in recent seasons. It would make sense for him to sign a cheap one-year deal in Montreal where he fit in well and try to establish his value heading into free agency in 2024.
The Canadiens do have four centers locked in for next season with Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach, Christian Dvorak and Jake Evans but they could use more depth at the position as they don’t have a lot of NHL-ready centers at the AHL level or any that are about to turn pro and jump right to the Canadiens lineup.
If Monahan comes back on a one-year contract with a manageable cap hit of about $2 million, it would give the Canadiens more depth at an important position. It would also give them a potential trade chip at the deadline if they are out of the postseason race, or a valued veteran to have around the room if they are hanging around the playoff chase.
The Canadiens surely have a lot of balls in the air right now. With yet another retooling season possibly on the horizon, it makes a lot of sense to have Monahan in those plans. If he wants a one-year contract, the Canadiens should be quick to get him signed for the upcoming season.
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