TORONTO – Rick Bowness couldn’t have sounded any happier Saturday that the Winnipeg Jets acquired Sean Monahan in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens the previous day.
The Jets landed the highly sought after center for two draft picks, including a first-rounder in 2024. Much to the delight of Winnipeg’s coach, who’s here as one of four coaches at the NHL All-Star Game.
“We’re absolutely thrilled,” Bowness said after his Team MacKinnon was eliminated in the first round of the All-Star game. “He’s a very important addition to our team and he’s going to help us in an awful lot of ways. He’s strong on face-offs, he’s a 200-foot player, which we like to play. I hear nothing but great things about his work habits and being a really good teammate. So, he’s a really good fit for us.”
Winnipeg Jets acquire Sean Monahan, a ‘really smart, intelligent hockey player’
Monahan has 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 49 games this season. He’s also won 55 percent of his face-offs and is a solid two-way player, who’s expected to center Winnipeg’s second line.
“He’s a really smart, intelligent hockey player, has really good hockey sense and he knows how to play a 200-foot game,” Bowness explained. “He’s had a good year offensively and he’s just a really reliable player. Just as important to us is bringing the right character into our locker room. We have great chemistry, and we know he’s going to fit right in with us.”
The Jets are surprisingly one of the top teams in the League this season. They’re third in the Central Division, just two points behind the first-place Colorado Avalanche at the All-Star break.
The trade to bolster their roster comes two days after another Western Conference powerhouse, the Vancouver Canucks, opened trading season by acquiring center Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames.
“I’m not worried about the other teams, I’m worried about us,” Bowness said. “We’ll take care of ourselves and we made a good trade for us and that’s all that matters to me.”
Bowness did like the timing of the Monahan trade for another reason, though.
“Yeah, we were hoping if we made a deal, as early as possible helps,” he said. “Sometimes you get those guys later in the season, and especially with our schedule this year, there’s very little practice time, in March we play 16 games. So, it’s great we got him in now and coming out of the break.”
Monahan can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. His salary cap hit had to be quite attractive for the Jets, a pro-rated $1.985 million.
His postseason play also made Monahan an attractive rental. He has 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 30 Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with the Flames from 2014-20.
In Winnipeg, Monahan is expected to center a line with Cole Perfetti and Nikolaj Ehlers. He will slot behind Mark Scheifele, who’s expected to return to the lineup next week after being out since Jan. 11 with a lower-body injury.
“That makes the coach’s job easier when you look down the bench and need a goal and [Scheifele is] sitting there,” Bowness shared. “He’s a No. 1 center and he’s played a 200-foot game this year. We’ve certainly missed him while he’s been gone. He’s been a wonderful teammate, he’s a great leader on this team. It’s all the little things he does.”