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OHL’s top prospect Sean Monahan gets 10 games for head shot

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Sean Monahan is the OHL's top-ranked NHL draft prospect (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

Sean Monahan, if nothing else, will be rested when arrives at Canada's national junior team selection camp last month.

Even though there was no penalty whistled on the play, there was reason to worry about the worst for the OHL's top draft prospect as soon his elbow struck the head of defenceman Colin MacDonald in last Sunday's Plymouth Whalers-Ottawa 67's game. Not much was said afterward, since suspensions of this nature are pretty much expected in the OHL. The head contact was discernible and now the 18-year-old centre and 67's co-captain has been shelved for 10 games, which covers the three weeks remaining before tryouts for Canada's entry in the IIHF world U20 hockey championship.

It should not affect Monahan's draft stock. It could affect his readiness to try out for Team Canada; he'll be in a similar situation to the Oshawa Generals' Scott Laughton, who had to play in the Subway Super Series while serving a head-checking suspension.

The biggest ripple from this might be how it weighs into the 67's decisions about how to handle the rest of their retooling season. Coach Chris Byrne's team is heading into this weekend's action at 7-15-0-2, 19th overall in the 20-team OHL, while staring at a nine-game road stretch without their offensive centrepiece. They're up a creek sans paddle.

The farther Ottawa slips out of a playoff race, the tougher it is justify keeping their two premier 19-year-olds, Ottawa Senators first-round defenceman Cody Ceci on defence and Minnesota Wild-drafted centre Tyler Graovac. Monahan, as a star in his age-18 season who could command conditional draft choices in a trade since there is a greater chance of him playing in the OHL next season. The 67's surely are already anticipating missing Monahan from Dec. 9 until about Jan. 9 if he cracks Team Canada's lineup. This may be an early start.

The suspension itself is line with what the OHL metes out when head contact leads to injury, like it or not. The second angle shows Monahan's elbow made first contact with MacDonald, which is why the OHL's rationale was "contact with head" rather than "check to the head," as in Laughton's case. The OHL will make an example of that every time, although Monahan (90 penalty minutes in 173 OHL games) has not been known as a dirty player.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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