The Calgary Flames have officially shutdown Sean Monahan for the 2021–22 season as he goes in for hip surgery and subsequent rehabilitation in advance of next year. This is not his first surgery, having not played a complete season since 2016–17 campaign. These injuries have clearly taken a toll on the 27-year-old, who has gone from a top line centre to the Flames’ bottom and occasional 13th forward. Let’s take a look at how we got here and what could be next for the 2013 first-round pick.
Monahan’s injury history by season
Monahan is clearly beloved by the team for what he brings to the locker room, and the way he has been able to keep his head down and do his job night in and night out. The problem is that he has clearly been playing through injuries for multiple games at a time so as to give his team the greatest chance of winning. Here are the injuries that are publicly known broken down by season.
We’ve covered this before and the hope was that this list wouldn’t need updating after 2021–22, but that didn’t pan out for Monahan. So to recap Monahan’s injury history, here’s how it all breaks down—or rather, how his body has broken down.
Although he ended up playing the whole season, Monahan needed wrist surgery following the completion of the season. It was likely that he was suffering from this injury for at least part of the year, as it was unlikely he picked up the knock in the last game of the season.
Rehabbing his wrist kept him out of the World Championships that year, but he was described as good to go at the start of the following year.
This was a great season for Monahan, with 64 points, but not a great one for the team, who ended up missing the playoffs. After game 74 of the season, Monahan was shutdown to undergo four surgeries: two herniated discs, a groin operation, and a left wrist surgery, the same issue he struggled with the season before.
At the time Monahan noted the wrist as the key one for him, “I felt like I was playing with one hand for a while. I lost all my grip strength in my hand. It definitely limits you.” Monahan saw two separate surgery teams: the wrist in New York and the remainder in St. Louis. He was allegedly better to start the following season.
This was Monahan’s best season, and only one where he was above a point-per-game. He recorded 82 points in 78 regular season games, but the Flames would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Colorado Avalanche.
At the conclusion of the series, it was reported that Monahan was playing with a cracked thumb. After undergoing four surgeries the year before, this seemed like a much smaller concern.
Monahan really struggled this season, and it was the first year of what has been an ongoing decline. He had just 40 points in 70 games and just did not look like the player he used to be. Interestingly, there were no reports of him undergoing any major work at the completion of this season.
There was a lot of hope that Monahan would rebound going into the 2020-21 season, but he put up the worst season of his career with just 28 points in 50 games. With the Flames out of the playoffs, Monahan was shut down to undergo hip surgery on his left side. As a faceoff-taker, struggling with hip issues is a major concern for his ability to play the game. He allegedly suffered the injury quite early in the season, and struggled to walk after practice, yet he continued to play to help his team win games.
This season was what it was. Monahan struggled to make an impact on the ice, and was healthy scratched for just the second time in his career. He was shut down for the season to undergo hip surgery on his right hip this time. This is retroactive to April 1, which means he may have been injured in the overtime loss to Los Angeles or it could have been aggravated even more that night to the point where the surgery was necessary now as opposed to in the off-season.
What happens for Monahan now
In either case, it is hard to imagine Monahan being back in Calgary on the same contract that he is right now. The Flames have four players to re-sign, and three of whom are three of the team’s top four scorers. With a nominal cap increase this year, every dollar is going to count, and Monahan’s trade value is at probably its lowest point. The Flames might have to consider buy inghim out this summer.
There is a good chance however that we have not seen the end of the Flames’ alternate captain. Monahan is beloved in the room, and has done so much to pull the franchise to where it is today. It is hard to overstate just how much he has given to make this team what it is today, and his history of playing through injuries is just the icing on that cake.
Whatever the Flames do this summer with him and his contract has to be with his say. Monahan has done everything for this team, and has earned the right to be part of that decision-making process. He also holds a ten-team no trade clause, which limits a little what the Flames can do with him.
However, it does not seem impossible to imagine the Flames buying him out then re-signing him to a much lower number just to keep him here with the team that drafted him. If he can come out from under the knife as even a serviceable bottom-six centre, the Flames could do worse things on the market than trying to retain his services at a lower cap hit.