One of the first phrases used to describe Sean Monahan when every expert is asked to is "hockey sense". By all accounts, he is a young man who thinks the game ahead of most at his level and can really compete based on that. In a recent TSN interview, Craig Button praised Monahan's ability to diversify his skillset.
According to Button, Monahan is the type of player who can play anywhere in a line-up and who makes adjustments based on the game situation. He doesn't just have one gear or one style of play, he figures out what he needs to do and what his team needs to do at every point in a game and molds his play after that. His hockey sense allows him to stay ahead of defenders and really think the game a few steps forward which allows him to both make plays others wouldn't think of and adjust quickly and effectively when things don't go as planned.
The other catalyst for his pace-changing ability is his foot speed. Monahan is a fast and fluid skater who can transition through all three zones with ease and really put defensemen on their heels while also having the ability to quickly get back to his defensive zone and break up plays going the other way.
There's a lot more to Sean Monahan than just foot speed and pace control, however; a lot more. He has high end offensive skill which should translate well to the NHL. As Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus notes: "His ability as an offensive playmaker is high end, as he has tremendous instincts, displaying the ability to make quality passes. Monahan regularly shows the ability to slow the game down. He controls play from the perimeter on the power play. He is patient, creative and he does not simply rely on one dimension, either."
Moreover, he can beat you any way you want..Monahan is very developed as a center at this point in his career; he doesn't have to rely solely on his passing or shooting game but can tailor his game to however he needs to play. If the defense plays him tight and doesn't give him room to shoot, he dissects them with great passing. When only respect his passing game, he can shoot like some of the best in the OHL.
Sean Monahan projects to be the quintessential second line center who might even be able to develop into a first line center. While he lacks the elite, game-breaking talent of many of the top draft-eligible players this summer, he more than makes up for it with a great defensive game to go along with very, very good offensive instincts.
On top of that, he served as the captain of the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League this past season and showed tremendous leadership abilities. Not only can he command a game on the ice with great play, he can pick his teammates up and carry them with him to victory. His big bag of intangibles will be extremely valuable at the NHL level. Leadership ability like his is hard to come by and, while that doesn't necessarily slate him into a future captaincy, but strong leadership in a young player helps in the transition to the next level as it shows a lot of maturity and ability to persevere through adversity.
Monahan looks like he could end up being a great second-line center, something every team sorely needs (see: 2013 Dallas Stars) and brings great awareness, offense, defense, and leadership/ intangibles to the table of any franchise that ends up picking him. In short, he may not make your jaw drop like some of the other projected first round prospects, but Sean Monahan is the complete package at a very young age.
7. Sean Monahan, Center, Ottawa (OHL)
"Monahan is a smart two-way player who has shined in the OHL over the past two seasons. His ability as an offensive playmaker is high end, as he has tremendous instincts, displaying the ability to make quality passes. Monahan regularly shows the ability to slow the game down. He controls play from the perimeter on the power play. He is patient, creative, and he does not simply rely on one dimension, either. He has good puck skills; while they still lag behind his hockey sense, he can make some defensemen miss. Monahan possesses good size (in order to shoulder off checks). If defenders try to overplay the pass, he has a great shot, and he can finish from medium range if given the chance. His skating is fairly average. He is not a total liability on his feet, but his skating stands out as the least impressive aspect of his game. Monahan projects as a quality defensive center, capable of winning faceoffs consistently. He does not have a clear developmental weakness in his game, which bodes well for a team that may be looking for him to make the transition to the NHL within a year or two.
International Scouting Services:
Concussion issues and suspension derailed his draft year. His size, skill, and hockey sense for this rangy center are well established. However, it is near impossible to predict exactly where he will be taken. Will teams be put off by his inconsistent season and drop? Or will a team try to outsmart everyone and take him as high as the top 5?
Monohan's vision off the rush is right up there with the best in this years draft class, he shows incredibble vision, poise and creativity to create scoring chances. Sean has the ability to find his teammates anywhere in the offensive zone, truly jaw dropping puck mover. He uses every inch of his frame when protecting the puck and shows great poise when in possession of the puck. On the puck pursuit and backhcheck he has shown a knack for forcing turnovers with applied pressure and great stickwork. Fine tuning his stride and consistent game pace will be crucial in making a much more seamless transition into the pro game.
The Hockey News Draft Guide:
The game before the woeful Ottawa 67's were eliminated from playoff contention, Monahan went hard into the boards and injured his back. The team didn't even bring his equipment to practice the next day, but he played hurt the next game and scored twice. That kind of character goes a long way, particularly when combined with good hockey sense and an ability to create offense. Monahan is not regarded as a great skater, but he gets around well enough to play in the NHL. "There's nothing about Sean Monahan that wows you," a scout said, "but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. He's a No. 1 center."
The only blemishes on his record this season were a suspension and not making Canada's WJC team. Scouts insist he makes those around him better - it was just difficult to notice on the OHL's worst team. "One of the knocks on him is his speed, but it's not going to hold him back because of his hockey sense," another scout said.