Will he or won’t he?
Stick in the NHL, that is. Or rather, assuming Sean Monahan would vote a hearty “yea” if it was up to him on how to proceed, will they or won’t they? After putting Monahan through the paces of an allotted nine-game tryout, will the Calgary Flames opt to keep him on the big league roster for a 10th contest, subsequently burning the first year of his entry-level deal?
Shortly ahead of Wednesday’s official decision from the Flames regarding the matter, word is -- complements of the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis and others -- the teen center isn’t going anywhere.
The reality is, shipping Monahan back to his junior squad, the Ottawa 67’s, doesn’t make sense from several standpoints. With six goals and three assists, the sixth overall draft pick of 2013 is proving he’s more than capable of competing at the highest level. Not only would such a move stunt the 19-year-old’s development, but the uproar among the Flames faithful would be deafening. As for the future financial repercussions of keeping Monahan in the NHL for the duration of 2013-14, ESPN Insider Craig Custance reports that this factor isn’t likely to play a part in GM Jay Feaster’s decision:
"We will make a 'hockey' decision on whether to keep him, and not one driven by the issue of whether his contract slides. We believe there are enough tools available to us in the new CBA that we are not concerned about 'burning' a year," Feaster wrote in an email Monday. "We will decide based on what we believe to be the best development path for Sean, and what we believe to be in his and our best interests."
So he’s staying. Great. Now what? Well, from our perspective, not much changes in the foreseeable future. While winger Mike Cammalleri has already returned to the lineup, the pending comeback of center Matt Stajan (leg contusion) shouldn’t affect Monahan’s role with the squad. The teen and Jiri Hudler have a good thing going, and the Flames won’t likely care to mess with that chemistry. The same applies to Monahan’s role on Calgary’s top power-play unit. Other than showcasing Stajan (as a trade asset with an expiring contract) here and there, there’s no just cause to remove the rookie permanently. And at worst, Monahan lands on the Flames’ secondary unit.
Therefore, if Monahan is available as a fantasy asset -- as he is in nearly a quarter of all ESPN.com leagues -- you may not want to waste another minute in adding him to your own roster.
Quick hits from around the NHL
• The Vancouver Canucks lost winger Jannik Hansen to what had the look of an upper-body injury during Tuesday’s 5-4 OT win over the New York Islanders. If Hansen can’t make a go of it Thursday against the New Jersey Devils and beyond, David Booth -- a healthy scratch against the Islanders -- is likely to rejoin the Canucks’ lineup. However, neither Vancouver forward carries much value on the fantasy scene these days. While Hansen has been bumped from his spot alongside Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, Booth has been labeled a “weird dude” who “isn’t doing enough to play” by head coach John Tortorella. Avoid utilizing either, if you can.
• After missing one game, Brenden Morrow (neck) is set to return to the lineup for the St. Louis Blues on Friday. Unfortunately for Morrow’s fantasy owners, he’s expected to skate on a fourth line with Vladimir Sobotka and Ryan Reaves. The veteran forward had been competing on a second scoring line with Chris Stewart and Derek Roy. So this may be an appropriate occasion for fantasy owners to cut the 34-year-old loose.
• Suspended 10 games to launch the season, David Clarkson will make his debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. Owned in 97 percent of ESPN.com leagues, the former 30-goal scorer is projected to put up decent numbers as a top-six forward with the Maple Leafs. While Clarkson’s precise spot in the lineup has yet to be determined, he’s pegged to eventually skate with Nazem Kadri, which suggests either Joffrey Lupul or Mason Raymond will drop down to the Leafs’ third forward unit. Adjust your own rosters accordingly. Also, look for some fireworks from Clarkson in his very first contest. Relegated to skating with his new teammates in practice alone for most of the month, the 29-year-old has been champing at the bit to see meaningful action.
• Goalie Chad Johnson is pegged to make his debut for the Boston Bruins this week. If not Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres, then Thursday versus the San Jose Sharks. If all goes well, Johnson will probably garner another start next week during the Bruins’ second set of back-to-back games in October. But beyond contests in consecutive nights, Johnson has little chance of seizing the reigns from a healthy Tuukka Rask.
• Judging from a recent practice session, the Philadelphia Flyers appear ready to unleash yet another new top line. We could see Claude Giroux, center Vincent Lecavalier (in unfamiliar territory on the wing) and unknown commodity Michael Raffl against the New York Rangers on Thursday. Owned in virtually zero ESPN.com leagues (no kidding), Raffl -- a 24-year-old Austrian who has worked his way into coach Craig Berube’s favor -- may somehow or some way morph into a fantasy asset of some worth. However, until the Flyers start winning games with regularity, and Berube puts the line blender back in the cupboard, digest this tidbit as nothing more than a quiet heads-up.
• Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin (3 goals, 3 assists in 10 games) is nursing a potentially serious injury after taking a puck to the face during Tuesday’s win over the Nashville Predators. If repairs go beyond the dentist’s office, and actual bones are broken, look for Jared Spurgeon to fill in temporarily for Brodin on the top pair with Ryan Suter. It’s also worth mentioning that forward Justin Fontaine -- who preformed well on the Wild’s top line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise on Tuesday -- subbed in for Brodin on the second power-play unit. But there’s no point in making any fantasy-related moves until we know more about the nature of Brodin’s injury. As for Fontaine, we want to see more from the 25-year-old winger before throwing any flavor of fantasy endorsement his way.
• In other Wild news, Josh Harding remains the club’s No. 1 goaltender as Niklas Backstrom (knee) still isn’t 100 percent. A moot point really after Harding pitched a 2-0 shutout against the Predators on Tuesday.
• Attention Alex Goligoski owners: Your man may be booted up to the press box in the foreseeable future. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News believes the Dallas Stars could make such a move, as means of giving Kevin Connauton a shot on the blue line. A shadow of his former contributing self, Goligoski has stumbled terribly early on with the Stars this season. And the blame goes well beyond the addition of fellow defenseman Sergei Gonchar (also a huge disappointment to start the campaign). Those less patient owners can’t be faulted for kicking the former fantasy darling to the curb.
• With Taylor Hall (knee) out for a month, forward Mark Arcobello keeps a firm grip on his prominent role with the Edmonton Oilers. Even once fellow center Sam Gagner (jaw) returns, Arcobello should continue to contribute as a top-six forward. The 25-year-old (owned in 26 percent of ESPN.com leagues) has 10 assists in 10 games.
• The New York Islanders are in no mood to hurry Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) back to action. That leaves Andrew MacDonald to man the point for the Islanders’ top power-play unit. Owned in only 8 percent of ESPN.com leagues, MacDonald should serve a productive, if provisional, plug for many fantasy owners.
• Predictably for many, goalie Tim Thomas has fallen hurt again. While Jacob Markstrom re-dons the starter’s sweater for the Florida Panthers, Scott Clemmensen reclaims his position as backup. For what it’s worth, Thomas’ latest lower-body issue is reportedly different from the groin injury suffered a couple of weeks ago. Whatever. We recommend you avoid Florida netminders at this stage of 2013-14 altogether, if possible.
• As anticipated, Mika Zibanejad was recalled from the AHL by the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun believes Zibanejad will get a shot to contribute one of the Senators’ top two lines. If so, the 20-year-old’s fantasy value (currently owned in 31 percent of ESPN.com leagues) should inflate swiftly. He notched 20 points in 42 games last season.
• Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is dealing with what the Rangers are calling a “minor issue.” While the club insisted Wednesday it’s no biggie, coach Alain Vigneault admitted “we can’t say 100 percent sure he’s going to be good to go on Thursday.” Monitor that situation accordingly.