February 22nd, 2024

Sean Monahan to step up on faceoffs for Jets after traded from Canadiens

By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press on February 4, 2024.

Montreal Canadiens center Sean Monahan (91) against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, in Newark, N.J. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Adam Hunger

WINNIPEG – Acquiring a player who can win the majority of his faceoffs should pay dividends for the Winnipeg Jets.

Sean Monahan was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to Winnipeg on Friday for a first-round draft selection in 2024 and a conditional pick in 2027. Monahan, who is also expected to improve the Jets ailing power play, has won 55 per cent of his draws this season.

“Yeah, I take pride in it,” said the six-foot-two, 202-pound Brampton, Ont., native. “As a centreman, you want to start with the puck. I don’t know exactly how I’ll be playing or used or anything like that, but anytime taking a faceoff, I’m trying to win it. So that’s where my mindset is at.”

The Jets are 28th worst at faceoffs in the NHL with a 46.7 percentage.

“Faceoffs on your specialty teams are huge,” said Jets coach Rick Bowness, who has been lamenting the lack of prowess in the circle all season. “When the (penalty kill) wins the faceoff, it’s down the ice. “¦ If you lose the faceoff on the power play, you’re wasting 30 seconds.

“Faceoffs are important. He’s really strong on that left side. We’re going to use him in those situations.”

Monahan, who scored 13 goals and 35 points in 49 games with the Habs, is expected to add life to a power play that ranks 24th in the NHL at 15.7 per cent.

“It’s good for me. I’m comfortable in the bumper there,” said the 29-year-old Monahan. “When you’re feeling good and you have that confidence with touches and are obviously surrounded by great players on the power play, you want to get them the puck and be able to relieve pressure. It’s something that I’ve done kind of my whole career.”

Monahan will take the left-side faceoffs while centre Mark Scheifele will take the right side on power plays, Bowness said.

“Sean’s just a guy that’s very cerebral,” said Scheifele, who will return from a lower-body injury to play against the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. “He knows the places to go. He’s good on faceoffs. He does a lot of really good things.

“It was a great first look (at practice) today, and I just want to keep that going.”

When not on the power play, Monahan will centre the second line between Nikolaj Ehlers and Cole Perfetti, Bowness said.

“Both special players,” said Monahan, who worked out with Perfetti last summer. “Really smart. I’m looking forward to it. You get a few touches today and you’re excited to see what comes from that.”

Monahan also played against Scheifele in junior and roomed with him at the 2014 world championship.

Monahan, who was traded to Montreal from Calgary in 2022, was excited to come to his third Canadian centre.

“It’s special,” he said. “As a player, all you want to do is have a chance to play in the playoffs. I think we’re going to have a good chance here. Playing in a Canadian market makes it that much more special.”

His new teammates welcomed Monahan with open arms.

“We’ve heard great things from guys who have played with him,” said Jets captain Adam Lowry. “Just playing against him, and you look at his career and what he was able to do with the Flames, and with the season he was having this year, we are just really excited to get him.”

Monahan’s best year was 2018-19 when he scored 34 goals and 48 assists in 78 games with Calgary, and won the Lady Byng Trophy

“Sean is going to be a big piece for this team moving forward,” Bowness said. “He’s a great fit for us from everything we hear and checked on him. His character, his work habits, being a really good teammate. So, he will fit right into the culture that we’ve created here, and we’re thrilled to have him.”

Monahan, who signed a one-year contract with Montreal last summer, could become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

NOTE: Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck was given the day off practice after returning from the All-Star Game in Toronto.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Fed. 4, 2024.

Share this story:
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments