The Calgary Flames' bright young hope did this countless times across his three seasons for the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's: initiate the rush and materialize in good scoring position in front of the net. In the third minute of the game, the 18-year-old helped turn a puck over in the Calgary zone, fed a lead pass up to Lee Stempniak and beat a path to the net, where he rolled off of some jousting with James Wisniewski and got position to rap in a rebound.
So Columbus fans saw Jack Nicklaus do a ceremonial faceoff and saw Monahan's first goal. In the big picture, that makes up for a Blue Jackets loss, eh?
There was a lot of high hockey IQ going on here. There might not be a plausible scenario in which one can envision the Flames making the Stanley Cup playoffs, but at least their bright young hope has looked mature beyond his years in his first couple games.
Other high picks from the 2013 NHL draft who were selected after Monahan went No. 6 overall might have a higher ceiling, but the 6-foot-2 centre has inevitably produced throughout his progression to the NHL.
There was a time when there was a healthy skepticism about Monahan's potential. In his minor midget season, while playing for the Mississauga Rebels, Monahan wasn't at the top of most mock drafts ahead of the 2010 OHL priority selection. He helped Mississauga, a wild-card entry, win the year-end OHL Cup showcase tournament, and the 67's selected with the hope he could continue their lineage of perspicacious pivots that has included Logan Couture, Alyn McCauley, Andrew Cassels, Adam Creighton and Bobby Smith. Monahan showed early on that he was a man-child.
Only two of the 15 players taken ahead of Monahan in 2010 have played a NHL regular-season game: Montreal Canadiens rookie Alex Galchenyuk, who went No. 1 to the Sarnia Sting, and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Scott Laughton, the No. 3 choice who went to the Oshawa Generals. Some believed Monahan might have got some time in The Show last season if he had been old enough for the 2012 draft, but he still got there rapidly.
Monahan played 13 minutes 20 seconds in Calgary's 4-3 victory. He played 11:40 in his NHL debut on Thursday, when he notched an assist for Calgary in a game against the Washington Capitals.
Perhaps tellingly, Calgary GM Jay Feaster stated earlier this week that the nine games Monahan can play before burning a year off his NHL contract can be "spread over the course of three months if we decide to do it." So far (stress, so far) he seems to be learning on the job rather swimmingly.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org (video: Sportsnet).
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