You knew I was the right man to write the next installment in this series.
It’s no secret my disdain for the Hurricanes drafting Elias Lindholm, adding to years of mediocrity by reaching on a player that should have been drafted a few picks lower. Now that the two-way forward has been traded away by the organization, it’s important to try to imagine a world in which the Hurricanes drafter the forward taken sixth overall: center Sean Monahan.
Need a first-line center? Need a forward that can score goals? Need a forward that creates opportunities? Look no further than Monahan. The root of the Hurricanes goal scoring woes lies in that devastating mistake.
Let’s get one thing straight: Elias Lindholm is not a bad player at all. In fact, he’s a decent middle six forward. His possession numbers are good and he’s gotten better as a playmaker over the years. He just wasn’t the right selection for the team’s needs that have haunted them since he was selected.
So what would the Hurricanes world looked like with Monahan in tow? Well, scoring rates would surely be higher. Monahan averages 0.7 points per game, higher than the 0.5 Lindholm averaged in a Hurricanes uniform. Monahan could have added strength down the middle, creating a one-two punch with Jordan Staal on lines one and two. Monahan has five seasons of at least 20 goals and four seasons of at least 50 points, neither of which Lindholm has accomplished.
Monahan’s production would have trickled to those around him including forwards Jeff Skinner and eventually, Sebastian Aho. Skinner’s shoot-first mentality could have been complimented by Monahan’s playmaking abilities, adding to his numbers. A trade could have possibly been avoided, keeping the smiley forward in Raleigh and avoiding a departure to Buffalo.
The Hurricanes’ drafting approach would have stayed largely the same, still needing to fill the gaps on defense that were present at the time. The choices to draft Haydn Fleury and Noah Hanifin. The draft that could have been affected would be the selections in 2016. With Monahan growing and Skinner thriving, the Hurricanes may have been inclined to trade one, if not both, of the picks for a roster player. The team could have added a strong forward to compliment its core and increase their chances of making the 2016-17 postseason.
Of course, with Monahan, the Hurricanes would not have made the move they made at the 2018 NHL Draft, acquiring Dougie Hamilton from the Calgary Flames. Hamilton will likely be a valuable member of the Hurricanes moving forward but in a Monahan-alternate reality, the Hurricanes stick with Noah Hanifin, allowing him to continue to grow and reach his ceiling.
The Hurricanes playoff-less fortunes from 2013 onward could have changed with one single line: “With the fifth overall pick, the Carolina Hurricanes are proud to select...from the Ottawa 67s...Sean Monahan.”