NHL Draft prospects: No. 9 Sean Monahan

Sean Monahan could find himself picked in the top 10 at next week's NHL Draft.

Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey on June 30.

The steady and reliable pivot from the Ottawa 67’s, Sean Monahan, is the No. 9 prospect in our countdown.

Stats: Ottawa 67’s (OHL) | 58 GP | 31 G | 47 A | 78 P | -18 | 24 PIM

Who is Sean Monahan?

Monahan has been in the spotlight ever since the 67’s picked him with the 16th pick in the 2010 Ontario Hockey League priority selection. He burst on the scene as a rookie, finishing 10th in rookie scoring with 47 points in 65 games. He then posted back-to-back 78 point seasons, a remarkable feat this past year where he handled the bulk of the offensive load on a rebuilding team.

Monahan was captain of the 67’s this season and missed some time due to a 10-game suspension in November.

Internationally, Monahan led Team Ontario to the 2011 world under-17 hockey challenge gold medal. He scored twice in the championship game, including the winner. Monahan also captured gold on Canada’s 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial under-18 roster. He was cut from Canada’s under-20 world junior entry last December.

Sean Monahan’s scouting report:

Monahan has the intelligence and vision that make him a gifted playmaker. He can spot the open man and makes those around him better. Although he’s not naturally aggressive in terms of physical play, he plays with a competitive drive and will put his team on his shoulders.

He’s more of a playmaker than a scorer, but he’s got a quick release and an accurate shot. Monahan developed a reputation for playing his best when it matters most. His skating is an area needing improvement, but he plays a complete game with intensity and a drive that should make him a successful pro.

Teams who might be interested in Sean Monahan:

Similarly to Sean Couturier in 2011, Monahan was downgraded on draft lists after playing three full seasons in junior, perhaps a result of over-scouting. Like Couturier, Monahan isn’t flashy but should round into a very serviceable pro.

The New Jersey Devils, should they retain the ninth-overall pick, could be interested, given that Monahan plays a style they tend to covet. Otherwise, the Edmonton Oilers, who may be interested in another centre prospect, could be targeting Monahan with the seventh pick.

Scout’s take: “Monahan had a good year statistically despite all the graduations, especially with Tyler Toffoli and Shane Prince leaving the fold,” explains David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “He had a revolving set of linemates he played with this year and all things considered, I thought Sean Monahan had a good year despite being an early round cut for the world juniors. He really improved his play without the puck this year, but skating is a bit of an issue. He’s got to get a little bit of a deeper knee-bend to maximize his stride.

“He plays very competitive,” adds Burstyn. “He hates to lose. He played a lot more without the puck this year than with it, but when he had the puck, especially on the power play, he was very dangerous both as a passer and as a shooter. I think his best ability is his ability to shield the puck and come off the boards to make a play, whether that’s passing off to an open teammate or exercising his quick snapshot that he has a fair bit of success with.”

“Monahan is a fantastic playmaking forward who really understands the physics of the game,” says Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He is a sound, two-way player who has shown a knack for creating turnovers and capitalizing off transition situations. He is poised with the puck and can amplify the skill sets of those he plays with. He is a good shooter, but thrives most in drawing defenders with the puck and making plays to find open teammates.

“He has, at times, looked like an Eric Staal clone and has the ability, when on top of his game, to completely take over,” MacLean continues. “His late birthday and the fact that he missed time to start the year affected his level of exposure, but Monahan is primed to be a show stealer, whether it’s in the NHL next season or back in major junior. He still has some technical fine tuning left to do with his skating stride and needs to really find his comfort level concerning his work ethic, but neither should be considered something that will hold him back at all.”

Rankings: Monahan was ranked fifth by the NHL’s Central Scouting (North American skaters), ninth by International Scouting Services and 11th by McKeen’s Hockey.

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