Friday, February 24, 2017

Triple 20: Context Around Sean Monahan's Long-Awaited Arrival at the Century Mark



As the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.

Stuck at 99 goals for 20 days, Sean Monahan finally hit the century mark on Thursday night and in doing so, became the youngest player in Flames franchise history to reach that milestone.

The former No. 20 with the Ottawa 67s is the 20th player in Calgary team history to score 100 goals and going back to 1972, he's the 20th player in Flames franchise history to score his first 100 NHL goals with the club.

Any regrets about taking the 6-foot-3 centre at No. 6 in the 2013 NHL Draft? No way.

The big moment came six minutes into the second period of a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Coming 81 seconds after Mikael Backlund tied it 1-1, the goal came on a set-up from who else -- his longtime, diminutive wingman Johnny Gaudreau -- would have stood up as his 19th career game-winner if not for a late power play tally from the home side with 1:13 remaining in the game.


At the young age of 22 years and 134 days, Monahan is nearly two full months younger than Joe Nieuwendyk was when he reached that same milestone in March 1989.

Sure, at 298 games, Monahan required twice-as-many games as Nieuwendyk did. But it is also a different era now -- way different. Back then hockey was far more free wheeling. 1987-88, for example, Calgary averaged just a smidge under five goals per game. Since Monahan entered the league in 2013, the Flames have averaged just a little over two-and-a-half goals per game.


Climbing the Leaderboard

In hitting 20 goals for the fourth straight season, the leading goal scorer among active Flames players (next is Backlund, the 2007 first round pick is at 90 goals), Monahan is the 27th player to score 100 goals for the Flames. This goes back to when the franchise was in Atlanta.

He could climb as high as 23rd before the end of this season. Lying ahead are:

22. Curtis Glencross, 114 
T23. Paul Reinhart, 109
T23. Cory Stillman, 109
25. German Titov, 107
26. Carey Wilson, 102
27. Sean Monahan, 100 


By the end of 2017-18, he should be comfortably inside the top 20. If he averages between 25 and 30 goals over the final six years of his contract, that should leave him in the high 200s and right behind the big three of Jarome Iginla (525 g), Theoren Fleury (364 g) and Nieuwendyk (314 g).

And he'll only be 28 years old.


20 Youngest Flames to Score 100 Goals 
(Date of 100th goal, age at the time)

1. Sean Monahan on Feb. 23, 2017 - 22 years, 134 days
2. Joe Nieuwendyk on Mar. 14, 1989 - 22 years, 185 days
3. Robert Reichel on Feb. 2, 1994 - 22 years, 222 days
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4. Guy Chouinard on Dec. 12, 1979 - 23 years, 54 days
5. Theoren Fleury on Oct. 15, 1991 - 23 years, 108 days
6. Jarome Iginla on Dec. 9, 2000 - 23 years, 161 days
7. Tom Lysiak on Mar. 20, 1977 - 23 years, 333 days
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8. Eric Vail on Jan. 31, 1978 - 24 years, 138 days
9. Gary Roberts on Mar. 14, 1991 - 24 years, 295 days
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10. Jim Peplinski on Jan. 22, 1986 - 25 years, 91 days
11. Willi Plett on Nov. 11, 1980 - 25 years, 157 days
12. Kent Nilsson on Feb. 5, 1982 - 25 years, 159 days
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13. Al MacInnis on Oct. 14, 1989 - 26 years, 95 days
14. Hakan Loob on Oct. 11, 1986 - 26 years, 101 days
15. Paul Reinhart on Nov. 24, 1986 - 26 years, 321 days
16. Cory Stillman on Dec. 16, 2000 - 26 years, 362 days
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17. Ken Houston on Feb. 17, 1981 - 27 years, 156 days
18. Gary Suter on Feb. 25, 1992 - 27 years, 246 days
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19. Joel Otto on Oct. 30, 1990 - 29 years, 1 day
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20. German Titov on Jan. 3, 1998 - 32 years, 79 days


There are seven others that scored 100 goals with the Flames, but who started their career with another NHL team: Curt Bennett, Bob MacMillan, Lanny McDonald, Carey Wilson, Joe Mullen, Curtis Glencross and Daymond Langkow.


Behind Some Impressive Company

The other staggering note is that among active NHL players, Monahan is the sixth youngest to reach 100 goals. 

The other five:

1. Steven Stamkos - 20 years, 316 days
2. Sidney Crosby - 21 years, 72 days
3. Jaromir Jagr - 21 years, 261 days
4. Alex Ovechkin - 22 years, 25 days
5. Patrick Kane - 22 years, 115 days

Say what you want about Monahan not being in that class of player, that's nonetheless a pretty elite five-pack to be behind.


20 Fastest Flames to Score 100 Goals 

1. Joe Nieuwendyk - 147 gm
2. Kent Nilsson - 177 gm
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3. Theoren Fleury - 201 gm
4. Hakan Loob - 225 gm
5. Guy Chouinard - 266 gm
6. Robert Reichel - 276 gm
7. Eric Vail - 283 gm
8. Sean Monahan - 298 gm
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9. Tom Lysiak - 307 gm
10. Willi Plett - 312 gm
11. German Titov - 316 gm
12. Gary Roberts - 327 gm
13. Jarome Iginla - 342 gm
14. Cory Stillman - 359 gm
15. Ken Houston - 373 gm
16. Joel Otto - 386 gm
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17. Jim Peplinski - 433 gm
18. Paul Reinhart - 448 gm
19. Al MacInnis - 454 gm
20. Gary Suter - 493 gm



Monahan is eighth in terms of fewest number of games taken to reach 100 but for context to that, re-read the seven names in front of him. All of them reached that 100 goal mark in 1994 or earlier. This is 2017 now. The NHL game has changed significantly since then.

Also, a reminder that this is 100 goals with the Flames franchise to begin your career. Take away that requirement and the surprise -- until you think about -- answer to the trivia question of whichCalgary player got to 100 goals the fastest is Lanny McDonald.

Having already played for Toronto and Colorado, McDonald needed just 133 games in Calgary to score 100 goals. But he was age 28 when he arrived in town. His incredible 66-goal season in 1982-83 was not something you'll ever see again.

Joe Mullen is another example. A dangerous player offensively, he got to 100 goals in just 182 games but again, he was an established veteran when he was acquired from St. Louis. 



Amazing Start to his Career

How good has Monahan's first four seasons gone? Since entering the NHL in 2013-14, only 17 players have scored more goals.

1. Alex Ovechkin - 181
2. Joe Pavelski - 136
3. Max Pacioretty - 134
4. Sidney Crosby - 133
5. Jamie Benn - 130
6. Tyler Seguin - 128
7. Vladimir Tarasenko - 126
8. Patrick Kane - 125
9. Corey Perry - 121
10. John Tavares - 118
11. Wayne Simmonds - 114
12. Steven Stamkos - 113
13. Brad Marchand - 112
14. Phil Kessel - 109
15. Jeff Carter - 108
16. Evgeni Malkin - 103
17. Zach Parise - 101
T18. Sean Monahan - 100
T18. Rick Nash - 100

On that list, Monahan's age is what jumps off the list. He's 32 months younger than Tyler Seguin, 25, who is the next youngest in that group of 19.


100 Goal Scorers - By Draft Class

Looking back at recent draft classes and where Monahan ranks adds another exclamation mark to what he's achieved. Here's the number of 100-goal scorers by draft class.

2016 - 0 (leader is Patrik Laine - 30)
2015 - 0 (leader is Jack Eichel - 37)
2014 - 0 (leader is David Pastrnak - 50)
2013 - 1 (Sean Monahan - 100, next is Nathan MacKinnon - 71)
2012 - 0 (leader is Alex Galchenyuk - 84)
2011 - 2 (Gabriel Landeskog - 111,  Brandon Saad - 101)
2010 - 4 (Tyler Seguin - 184, Jeff Skinner - 163, Taylor Hall - 146, Vladimir Tarasenko - 134)
2009 - 6 (John Tavares - 229, Matt Duchene - 172, Evander Kane - 150, Ryan O'Reilly - 124, Nazem Kadri - 106, Brayden Schenn - 103)
2008 - 7 (Steven Stamkos - 321, Jordan Eberle - 157, Derek Stepan - 123, Adam Henrique - 113, Cam Atkinson - 113, Erik Karlsson - 110, Josh Bailey - 105)


Just try to wrap your head around this. From the 2008 draft, these are players selected five full years earlier than Monahan. Despite essentially giving them a five-year head start, he still would rank eighth in goal scoring. Not bad.


Final Word

I get the criticism. Given his size and lack of a mean streak, at times Monahan leaves you wanting more. But let's be honest, what the Flames are getting is pretty darn good.

Need I remind you of the dubious history of 6th overall picks in this organization? Do the names Rico Fata and Daniel Tkaczuk ring a bell? Drafted consecutively at No. 6 in 1997 and 1998, they combined in their careers with Calgary for four goals. That's right, four goals combined!

They say scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in the NHL. So when you have someone that is really good at it and by that, I mean really, damn good at it, you gladly accept it and ride it all the way to the bank including right into the Stanley Cup playoffs, which are sure to soon follow.

Some fans refer to him as 'Money Hands'. They've got that right.



By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Do so now! It's another way to be alerted to new Calgary stories I've written, other articles from my colleagues I enjoyed and I'll also sometimes use that space to weigh in on the news of the day.

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