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Sophomore season next hurdle for Flames' Monahan

Monday, 25.08.2014 / 8:45 AM / News
NHL.com

CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan is aware the temperature is going to be turned up in his sophomore season. The 19-year-old wouldn't have it any other way.

After a 22-goal season -- the most by a Flames rookie since 1989-90 and one more than a fresh-faced Jarome Iginla scored in 1996-97 -- Monahan is ready for bigger challenges.

"I think there will be more pressure this year," Monahan said. "There's an expectation now. I have to be better than last year. That's something I want to do and something I've worked really hard on over the summer to be ready for that.

"As a player, you've got to be up for those challenges. That's something I like to do. It's getting more exciting and it's going to be a challenge I'm really looking forward to."

It's a message Flames general manager Brad Treliving has stressed to Monahan. It's one thing to fly under the radar and score 20 goals. It's another thing to do it with your name highlighted on the lineup board in the opponent's dressing room.

"Now that you've been in the League, and I've talked to Sean a lot about this when I first got the job, you go from hope to expectation," Treliving said. "Pressure is what you deal with in this business. To me, we put more pressure on ourselves than anyone can externally, but expectation now is that you've done it.

"In a lot of ways, this could be a more difficult year. You come in last year, nobody knows who the heck Sean Monahan is. Now people do know him. There's less ice. There's less room out there. When people play the Calgary Flames, opposing coaches are going to circle his name. It makes it difficult, but that's the challenge good players rise to."

Calgary's top pick (No. 6) in the 2013 NHL Draft, Monahan bulled his way onto the Flames roster as an 18-year-old. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound center had an immediate impact, scoring four goals in his first five games and six in his first eight before finishing four shy of the team-leading 26 by forward Mike Cammalleri, who left for the New Jersey Devils this summer as a free agent.

With Cammalleri gone, Monahan spent the offseason preparing to pick up his share.

"This summer has been huge for me," said Monahan, who expects to weigh more than 205 pounds when training camp begins. "I know what to expect coming into this camp and stuff like that. The little things I've needed to adjust this summer to prepare, I've done that.

"The biggest thing for me is to be quicker. I've done a lot of sled work for leg power and acceleration. It's really helped out and I feel great on the ice."

The Flames finished No. 22 in the League in goals with 209. With 241 goals against, Calgary was No. 23.

"This year I want to improve on my all-around game," he said. "I want to come out of this season as a high-plus player and do all the little things well and doing whatever I can to help the team win games.

"Putting the puck in the net and doing all the little things that help chip in will be key."

Author: Aaron Vickers | NHL.com Correspondent