By Aaron Bell
Two years ago, Sean Monahan was a green rookie in the Ottawa 67's lineup and despite being a first round pick, didn't know exactly what to expect from playing in the OHL.
Fast forward to this season and Monahan is one of the top offensive producers in the Eastern Conference, a highly rated prospect for the NHL Entry Draft in June and most importantly to his team, the 67's co-captain.
That means that in addition to looking after his own personal goals this season, he is being counted on to help the 67's young core of players learn their way through the league.
"We've got a lot of 16 and 17-year-olds and I've already been in the league for two years so I think I know what it takes and they can come to me for advice," Monahan said. "I just talk to them and help guide them to do the right things and make the right choices."
Monahan helped the Mississauga Rebels win the OHL Minor Midget Cup in his draft year and then quickly established himself as a consistent offensive producer in the OHL, scoring 20 goals and 47 points as a freshman. Last year he bumped those totals up to 33 goals and 78 points and he already has four goals and 15 points in 11 games this season.
The 2013 NHL Draft is already being considered a two horse race between Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads and Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks but Monahan is widely considered to be one of the next best prospects in North America and should be an early pick.
"It's pretty cool to be talked about with that group of guys but I think there is still lots of work ahead and that's what 'Im looking forward to," Monahan said. "I think you have to come in and play your game and just do what you normally do. If you do that, I think that's what they're looking for."
Right now, Monahan is more worried about helping the 67's get back on track. They lost top scorers Tyler Toffoli and Shane Prince from last year and Monahan has put a lot of pressure on himself to step into that leadership role.
The 67's have just three wins in their first 11 games and are in last place in the league standings but Monahan said that he thinks his team is ready to turn things around after a slow start.
"We've got a lot of new faces so I think the start of the season has been kind of a learning curve," Monahan said. "We're starting to build on it and I think we're going to start to come together here and get some wins."
Good news, bad news for Gaunce
It was a little good news and a little bad news this week for Belleville Bulls captain Brendan Gaunce. The Vancouver Canucks prospect was named to the OHL squad for the SUBWAY Super Series next month against Russia but also learned that he would be out of the Bulls lineup for three to six weeks with a separated shoulder.
Gaunce, the Bulls top scoring forward with four goals and nine points, is hopeful to be back and 100% in time for the SUBWAY Super Series.