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May 18, 2016 | 4:13pm ET
Monahan key to Calgary's future

TORONTO, ON -- The Calgary Flames know how important center Sean Monahan is to their organization's future success, and by all accounts, they've relayed that message to the rising star. Now, it's time to put their money where their mouth is.

Monahan, 21, is coming off of his three-year, entry-level contract and can become a restricted free agent July 1. He's coming off of back-to-back 60+ point seasons, and has scored 22 goals, 31 goals and 27 goals in each of his last three years, respectively. Those are some pretty solid numbers, and they'll result in a hefty raise.

But the two sides haven't gotten down to the nitty-gritty negotiations just yet, and Monahan's agent, Pat Morris, told me on Wednesday they are "not very far along."

"There's been lots of general chatter, but we are not down to specifics," he said.

"I just don't know where they're coming from yet, other than a strong expression that they want to get Sean signed."

The Flames have experienced quite the roller-coaster ride over the last two seasons. After battling their way against the odds to the playoffs in 2014-15, they missed the boat this season and fell to 26th in the NHL. They were sellers at the trade deadline and head coach Bob Hartley was shown the door after the team registered the same record (35-40-7) it achieved in 2013-14.

But the Flames are full of top, young talent, led by Monahan and fellow pending RFA star Johnny Gaudreau, and they aren't that far along from being consistent contenders.

Sure, the team certainly could use improvement in some areas, especially between the pipes (and I'm too busy to fill the void), and that's something GM Brad Treliving and his staff will work at achieving this summer.

Priority No.1, however, is getting Monahan signed to an extension before July 1. (After that, the Flames risk other teams poking their nose in and trying to persuade Monahan into signing an offer sheet -- Gaudreau doesn't have that right).

"Time is always on the player's side," Morris said, "but they chose not to do an extension (during the season or last summer), as some teams have done with their young players."

Monahan wants a long-term contract, presumably in the six-to-eight year range, and could command around $6 million per season. Again, term and dollars haven't really been discussed, to date.

"That's all going to depend on what Calgary's thinking," Morris said, in reference to a long-term extension, adding that a short-term bridge contract is "not likely."

"He enjoys Calgary and certainly has excelled there. He wants the relationship to continue."

Contract negotiations are expected to intensify after the World Championships when Treliving returns from St. Petersburg, Russia.

While Morris admitted he and Treliving "talk a lot," the two sides are likely to discuss this specific matter and hammer out a deal in the coming weeks.

It's certainly in Calgary's best interest to get this piece of their puzzle squared away early, so management can focus on shaping the rest of its roster.

Once Monahan's locked up, Gaudreau and fellow RFAs-to-be Josh Jooris and Joe Colborne shouldn't be too far behind him.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.

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