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Sean Monahan: first-round pick debate at deadline returns
Sean Monahan is officially back in the Montreal Canadiens fold, as of about 24 hours ago. Kent Hughes was able to bring him back to town on a one-year contract valued at $1.985 million.

He could earn a total of $2 million if he plays 26 games or more.

It seems like I was the first one to say there was a chance he’d stay, but every time I made my potential roster for next season, I quickly put him aside.

But now, he’s in town for… um… how long, really?

Because no, we don’t really know how long his stay in town will last. Will the centerfielder finish out his contract here? And if so, will he be on the long-term injured list, like last year?

Ultimately, I liked the way Dany Dubé brought him in: he allows the Habs to buy time.

I really get the feeling that the club wants to add a long-term center. Until proven otherwise, Sean Monahan isn’t going to play that role because of his age and injury history.

But he has the chance to surprise.

If the Habs draft a fifth-round center next week, the odds are good that this guy won’t be playing in the NHL as early as 2023-2024. Having Monahan fills the hole in the short term.

If the club goes after Pierre-Luc Dubois, Monahan can still play on the wing. We saw the success he had with Kirby Dach in the first games of the 2022-2023 season, didn’t we?

And in such a scenario, he could also be traded by the end of the season. Because yes, if he stays healthy, he’ll be a nice target.

Why? Because he’s a good player. Because he’s a good player on the ice, but also in the dressing room. Because he’s experienced. Because he’s making little money this season. Because he’s excellent on the ice. Because he has no no-trade clause.

It’s still early days, but the debate over the first pick at the deadline in return for his services could come up again.

But if he stays, since a team can never have too many center players, Kent Hughes makes sure he gives his coach one more piece of ammunition to make sure he doesn’t run out of center.

I often say this, but I like to see a club overflow in the center. That way, the wings are stronger. That’s what Monahan can do, which could have the effect of making Nick Suzuki even more dominant.

I reiterate that Suzuki had a better first half of the season, not just because of fatigue, Cole Caufield’s injury or anything like that, but mainly because the club had real depth in the middle.

With Sean Monahan, Christian Dvorak and Jake Evans behind him, he had the latitude to spread his wings instead of being the only guy who could put out fires on the ice.

The loss of Monahan, in my eyes, hurt the Captain more than that of Caufield. Why is that? Because replacing a center is a team effort. And last year, the team was… Suzuki.

So the club is buying itself some time, and even if the club is currently overflowing with attacking players, having Monahan is excellent news for the coach and the GM.

Even if Martin St-Louis is already wondering how he’s going to give everyone ice time.

These days, Monahan is able to jump on the ice. If he’s signed a contract, it’s no doubt because he’s deemed healthy enough to help the club during the upcoming season.

And if he chose to sign a contract with the Canadiens less than two weeks before the free-agent market opens, it’s because he really wanted to stay here.

The one who will be talking to the media this morning is the signing the club needed. Because, no, Kent Hughes won’t be making a big splash on the unrestricted free-agent market.

It remains to be seen whether he can stay healthy enough to prove he can sign another good NHL contract, here or elsewhere.

Breaking news

– Coming up.

– Souris, la vie est un fromage.

– Why not?

– The Blue Jackets have a blue line full of first-round picks. [HF]

– A great performance by the Blue Jays.

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