With the Calgary Flames suposedly beginning a rebuilding phase this season, a big question emerged through their first nine games: should they keep top draft pick Sean Monahan with the team in Calgary or send him back to junior and preserve a year on his entry-level deal?
On Wednesday the Flames made their decision: he's staying.
"We believe his development is best served with us," GM Jay Feaster said. "We feel good about him. We feel good about the decision we've made.
"He's a 19-year-old going on 29 years old."
On the one hand it's pretty easy to see why the Flames are keeping Monahan around. He's their leading goal-scorer with six and three assists through the first nine games, making a massive impression fromt he get-go. While it's still just a small sampling of NHL play, he's shown he's ready for the big league.
On the other hand, the Flames burn the first year of his entry-level deal on a season where it's expected they won't be heading anywhere (though early season returns are making that a bit more interesting).
In the end that becomes tough to justify keeping him down. Monahan is likely to gain as much and probably more experience with the team in Calgary than he would going back to the junior level. The question shouldn't be what's best for the Flames' wallet but what's best for Monahan's individual development. Feaster and Brian Burke clearly feel that means staying in the NHL.
Does that mean that Monahan won't be joining Team Canada for the World Junior Championships in late December? Not necessarily.
You figure it will likely depend just as much on where the Flames are as to where Monahan is at that time. Either way, he's going to have ample opportunity to prove himself against the world's best.