Sean Monahan’s predictive analytics promising for Calgary Flames

Sean Monahan, who scored two goals in the 5-1 win over the Panthers on Tuesday, needs to consistently buoy the team’s secondary scoring for the Calgary Flames to pose a postseason threat.

Once a key driver in the Calgary Flames offence, Monahan has struggled over the past two seasons relative to his performance earlier in his career.  Injuries have most certainly been a factor, as Monahan has undergone surgery for various ailments at the conclusion of each of the last two seasons.

A return to his peak form is wishful thinking, but could we see a more modest scoring uptick from Monahan in the second half of the season?

Let’s take a look at some numbers to gain some insight.  Data is provided via Natural Stat Trick, along with projections for this season from Puck Luck Analytics to dig into Monahan’s performance.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 03: Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames celebrates a goal against the Anaheim Ducks in the second period at Honda Center on December 03, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

At 5v5 this season, Monahan has a G/60 rate of 0.44 and an A/60 rate of 0.59.  His goal rate is the lowest of his career while his assist rate is the second lowest of his career, ahead of only his rookie season.

Part of the reason for his lower goal scoring rates this season is his shooting percentage. At 7.69%, it’s the second lowest 5v5 shooting percentage of his career, with only last season’s 7.14% inferior.  Prior to the 19/20 season, Monahan hadn’t shot less than 10% at 5v5.  Shooting percentage usually varies widely, with a tendency to gravitate toward a player’s true shooting talent, so there is reason to think we might see Monahan’s shooting improve in the second half.

His shot volumes are down this season, with 5.77 5v5 S/60 also a career low.

While Monahan’s injury history may be behind some of his decline, there are other factors at play.  He’s playing further down the lineup than he has most of his career and the lower quality of linemates is affecting his production.  There are also signs that his career low numbers are, to some extent, due to recovery over the full season.

Looking at Monahan’s performance this season relative to the Puck Luck Analytics model shows a distinct possibility of upward progression. His 5v5 G/60 is down around the 25th percentile for forwards this season.

With a full season projection that is significantly higher, the most likely outcome through the second half of the season is that we’ll see his goal production improve.  It may not be what it was in 2018-2019, but even a rebound to somewhere near the projection would be a big boost for the Flames secondary scoring.

Another observation regarding Monahan’s 5v5 offence is that 100% of his 5v5 assists this season have been primary assists.  It’s a good sign that he’s been involved in scoring plays and not just the beneficiary of touching the puck before the offensive play manifests.

Monahan’s 5v5 on-ice GF/60 also sits well below the projection.  While some of this gap is driven by his lower-than-projected individual offensive production, there are likely other factors at play as well.  Playing with lower quality linemates is one explanation, as their infrequent offensive impact drags down the proficiency of a more talented player.  With the trade deadline starting to come into view, adding a middle six winger to complement Monahan may be a way to improve his offensive impact.

It would be a great benefit to the Flames if Monahan can provide some additional secondary scoring in the second half of the season.

The good news is the numbers suggest that outcome is probable. And if the Flames can add a complementary winger, they may get another bump in production from #23.