Monahan making it tough for Flames to send him back to junior

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Just three games into the regular season, Calgary Flames fans are already seeing why the club used its sixth overall pick on Sean Monahan. The question now is, will they keep seeing it all season, or will he be returned to his junior club in Ottawa?

The argument for keeping Monahan: he has two goals and one assist as Calgary (1-0-2) has collected at least a point in each of its first three games.

But on the other hand: the 18-year-old center is minus-3 and, according to head coach Bob Hartley, “There’s lots of junior stuff still in his game.”

Monahan can play nine games with the Flames before they have to make a decision on whether to keep him or send him back to the OHL (and delay the start of his entry-level contract).

Calgary isn’t exactly deep at center, so if Monahan keeps producing at his current level, there’s reason to believe he could stay all season with the big club, playing meaningful minutes and gaining valuable experience in the process.

The Flames won’t want to rush him though, and delaying the start of that ELC will be tempting for a team that’s only starting its rebuild.

Canucks send ’13 first-rounder Shinkaruk back to junior

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Vancouver has now officially sent both of its 2013 first-round draft picks back to their respective junior clubs, returning Hunter Shinkaruk to WHL Medicine Hat on Monday — one day after dispatching Bo Horvat to OHL London.

Horvat, the ninth overall selection (acquired in the Cory Schneider trade) was the more ballyhooed prospect heading into training camp, but it was Shinkaruk (24th overall) that lasted longer and arguably made the bigger impression.

Head coach John Tortorella said he really liked Shinkaruk’s camp, adding the 18-year-old was “trying like hell” to make the team.

The moves mean none of Vancouver’s last four first-round picks — Horvat, Shinkaruk, Nicklas Jensen and Brendan Gaunce — are still with the team. It’s unclear what Vancouver plans to do with Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh (acquired yesterday from Carolina) or Ryan Stanton, claimed off waivers from Chicago on Monday morning.

Related: Hurricanes and Canucks swap prospects and a pick

Canucks send first-round pick Horvat back to junior

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One of Vancouver’s two first-round picks from the 2013 draft will be sticking with the team, but it may not be the one you’re expecting.

The London Knights announced that ninth overall section Bo Horvat was re-assigned to their team by the Canucks. Horvat was not at today’s practice in Vancouver leading to speculation he was headed back. 26th overall pick Hunter Shinkaruk will be sticking around.

While the two players were both thought to be staying in Vancouver as recently as yesterday, plans may have changed for the Canucks after acquiring Zac Dalpe from the Carolina Hurricanes late last night.

According to Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun, Canucks GM Mike Gillis views Dalpe as a guy who can play at center, the same position Horvat plays. Shinkaruk, meanwhile, will at least get a nine-game peek to see what he can do. As a winger, there’s more flexibility to fit him into the lineup.

Lightning send 2013 first-rounder Drouin back to junior

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Tampa Bay’s 2013 first-round pick won’t be winning the Calder Trophy this year.

The Lightning announced they’re sending third overall pick Jonathan Drouin back to his junior team in Halifax. Just yesterday we shared here how GM Steve Yzerman had a difficult decision on whether to keep their hot prospect or send him back. Clearly the team feels it’s better for his development to head back to the QMJHL.

Some fans may get critical of the move, but it’s one that can work out and the Lightning just need to look across the state for a prime example of that.

Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau didn’t join the Panthers immediately after being drafted in 2011, but he turned his first NHL season last year into a Calder Trophy-winning one. Lightning fans may want to see just what they got for such a bad season last year but they’ll have to be patient.

As for Drouin, the rest of the QMJHL should be terrified to see him back after the numbers he put up last season (41-64-105) in 49 games.

Stars send ’12 first-rounder Faksa back to juniors

The Dallas Stars confirmed what they said over the summer and won’t rush 2012 first-round pick Radek Faksa to the NHL.

The team announced they’re sending the 19-year-old Czech back to the OHL Kitchener Rangers. Faksa was taken 13th overall in last year’s draft and they’re hoping he’ll be one of their top centers soon.

Last season with Kitchener, Faksa had his season hampered by a MCL strain. He played in just 39 games scoring nine goals with 22 assists. In the OHL playoffs, he had four goals and two assists in 10 games. Two years ago, his first in the OHL, he had 67 points in 62 games leading to his lofty position in the draft.