Monahan says he’s “NHL ready” after going sixth overall to Flames

The Calgary Flames selected Ottawa 67′s centre Sean Monahan sixth overall at the NHL Draft in New Jersey Sunday.

Monahan says he’s “NHL ready” after going sixth overall to Flames
Sean Monahan (L) and Brett Gustavsen of the Ottawa 67's against the Owen Sound Attack during second period OHL action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, January 20, 2013. (Jean Levac/OTTAWA CITIZEN)

NEW JERSEY – Once the initial shock wore off for Sean Monahan — “I didn’t actually realize I had been picked and I kind of blacked out for a second” — the Ottawa 67′s captain made a bold statement to the Calgary Flames and their fans.

“I think I’m NHL ready,” said Monahan, who is off to Alberta after being selected sixth overall by the Flames in Sunday’s NHL entry draft here. “This summer is going to help that. I’m worked out a lot since our season ended March 17.”

Monahan scored 31 goals and 47 assists in 58 games for the 67′s in 2012-13, his third full year in the Ontario Hockey League. While it’s rare for a player to step directly out of junior into the big leagues, the Flames have been searching for a talented young centre seemingly forever.

Monahan, who turns 19 in October, says the lead up to the draft, full of interview after interview, was “crazy,” but he had a strong feeling that the Flames would call his name – unless somebody beat them to it.

“I wasn’t 100 per cent sure, but I knew they had an interest and I knew one of their needs was a centre. I had a few interviews with them and I thought I left a good impression.”

While the 2013-14 season was long and trying for Monahan as the 67′s endured one of their worst seasons ever, he says the experience of playing through constant flux – loss after loss and the trading away of players to rebuild for a more promising future – he believes that will only serve to make him a better player in the long run.

“You’ve got to go through a lot of adversity and bumps and you learn a lot about yourself and your team,” he said.

Monahan isn’t exactly setting a low bar of expectations for himself, either. He looks up to Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, now a two-time Stanley Cup winner, as the type of NHL player he would like to strive to become.

“He plays a two-way game and he competes hard game after game. He’s a leader and he also produces. That’s the kind of player I want to be in the NHL.”

If Monahan has played his final game in the OHL – the decision on whether he stays or goes figures to go right down to the end of training camp and possibly into the opening 10 games of the NHL season – he only had positive things to say about the 67′s organization.

“I couldn’t thank Ottawa enough,” he said. “(Former coach and GM) Brian Kilrea drove down to my house when I was 15. That’s a special memory for me. Thinking back, it seems like yesterday.”

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