Montreal Canadiens 2023-24 Season-In-Review: Sean Monahan

The Canadiens acquired a first-round pick for Sean Monahan at the trade deadline. Will the centerman think about a reunion in 2024-25?
Sean Monahan celebrating goal with Canadiens
Sean Monahan celebrating goal with Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Sean Monahan was a beloved member of the Montreal Canadiens, despite playing just 74 games with the team over two seasons. Monahan missed most of the 2022-23 season with a groin injury, which made people wonder if his injury-riddled career was reaching an endpoint. Monahan was benched at the end of his Calgary Flames tenure, and then he barely played again in 2022-23. However, Kent Hughes took a chance on the big centerman, re-signing him to a one-year deal for the 2023-24 season.

Hughes took the chance on Monahan since they had the cap space and knew a player of Monahan's stature could fetch a good return at the trade deadline. The move paid off for Hughes, as Monahan had 35 points in 49 games before the trade. We have no way of knowing what Hughes expected when he signed Monahan, but there's a good chance he didn't expect to get a first-round pick back. The Jets will relinquish the 27th overall pick in this year's draft for Monahan's services, which they could regret after going out in the first round.

There isn't a lot of offensive talent at the back end of the first round, and the Canadiens have their fill of young defensemen. There will be plenty of content on this site in June that outlines what the Canadiens could do with the 27th selection. However, an early look makes me think it could be a trade-down situation if Michael Brandsegg-Nygard doesn't fall to them, or they could look at Quebec-born Maxim Masse, a skilled forward with 75 points in 67 games in the QMJHL.

Sean Monahan's 2023-24 Performance

It's hard to complain about Sean Monahan's 2023-24 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He only played in 49 games before joining the Winnipeg Jets, but you could argue that he was their most valuable player. He became a fan favorite with his bounce back from injury, played well above the expectations of his $1.985 million contract, and landed the Canadiens a first-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. 

There aren't many fans who would admit it now, but most were indifferent about Monahan's return to the team. The Canadiens needed to ice four lines every night, so he was worth bringing back as long as he stayed healthy, but if Kent Hughes hadn't pulled the trigger, there wouldn't have been an uproar.

Monahan became such a fan favorite that many didn't want to see him leave the team at the trade deadline. However, hindsight is 20/20 on that, because they would have accepted it if they had known he'd land a first-round pick. The good news for Habs fans is that if Monahan loved the city as much as they loved seeing him wear the bleu, blanc, et rouge, he could return to the team in 2024-25.

A Possible Reunion?

No one will blame Monahan if he takes a contract to chase a Stanley Cup with one of the league's more serious contenders. He isn't getting any younger, and his injury history suggests he doesn't have the same shelf life as other players. Monahan may take the opportunity to try and win a cup, as he realizes the Habs are still a few years away from contending.

However, nothing is stopping Monahan from taking the same path this season. He will get plenty of opportunities to play in Montreal and be a mentor for the young players on the team. If he finds the same success in Montreal as last season, Kent Hughes could run back the gameplan and trade him at the deadline for more assets.

It's a dangerous move for Monahan, but he seemed to love the city and playing in front of one of the best fan bases in the league. Monahan performed well for the Jets, so it's more likely that he will get an offer from a contender at the start of free agency, but it's fun for fans to dream of a possible reunion.