Montreal Canadiens fans are starting to call for the extension of forward Sean Monahan, but what would it cost and does it make sense right now?
Monahan is currently in the last year of his seven-year deal worth $6.375M per year and the 28-year-old is in the prime of his career to cash in on what looks like might be a very successful bounce-back season.
He’s potted five goals and added nine assists for 14 points through 21 games with the Canadiens so far this season, bringing him to a 50-point pace as of now.
Monahan’s seamless fit within the Canadiens’ organization has some clamouring for his extension, believing that Monahan would sign a hometown discount for a team he’s been with for all of two months. Unfortunately, history shows that players in Monahan’s situation do not come cheap, and are often moved at the trade deadline to further mark up their value before being able to cash in at the trade deadline.
As recently as this summer, Andrew Copp and Vincent Trochek both signed deals worth $5.625M per season, which gives you an idea of what second-line centres are going for on the open market as of late.
Both Trochek and Copp were just above the 50-point mark, while having solid playoffs for their respective clubs this past spring.
Even former Montreal Canadiens’ centre Philip Danault signed a six-year deal with the L.A. Kings last summer worth $5.5M per year, which goes to show you that last summer’s market on centres was no fluke.
The going rate seems to be hovering over the 6.75% to 6.9% of a team’s salary cap for a second-line centre in the NHL, and, with the salary cap set to increase exponentially over the next couple of summers, Monahan would be in a perfect position to take advantage and command closer to $6M per season.
The Market For Centres
The added argument for Sean Monahan‘s camp is that the pool of available centres for the 2023 free agent period will not be very deep, making Monahan a likely candidate to cash in even further come July 1.
As it stands, Dylan Larkin, Bo Horvat, Ryan O’Reilly, Jonathan Toews and Monahan are the top-5 centres available at this junction for the upcoming free-agency period.
You can expect Larkin and O’Reilly to likely sign extensions, given where their clubs are currently at. Detroit absolutely needs to retain Larkin for their rebuild to stand a chance, and losing O’Reilly would basically signal a retool for the St. Louis Blues.
That would then leave Bo Horvat, the biggest prize so far, followed by Toews and Monahan as the top centres likely to be available on the open market.
Three major centres available for 32 clubs is sure to create a bidding war for their services, which means their contract values could further spike. The agents of each player is sure to be fully aware of the situation, and thus advise their clients to wait it out; unless their current club overpays to retain them.
The impending reality of next summer’s free agent frenzy could push Monahan’s market value closer to $6M should he continue on his current pace.
Does It Make Sense?
If the Canadiens were ready to compete for the Stanley Cup in the next two seasons, the answer would have been yes, without question.
There’s a reason Monahan is appreciated among the fan base, as he does everything well on the ice and rarely puts his team in trouble.
However, given where the team is at, the best years of Monahan’s hypothetical contract would be spent playing for a Canadiens club that will be waiting on the rest of their young players to hit their primes.
By the time the Canadiens will be ready, Monahan likely won’t be worth his contract, as he’ll be 29 when the season begins in 2023-2024, and likely 31-32 when the club is ready to compete.
If the Canadiens could get a haul for Monahan at the NHL Trade Deadline, it might be wiser to move on and not strap the team with another heavy, long-term contract at this stage.