(SportsNetwork.com) - Rookie center Sean Monahan has impressed Calgary enough that he won't be going back to juniors this season.
The 19-year-old will try to lead the Flames to a victory on Thursday night in the finale of a five-game road trip against the Dallas Stars, who may have their No. 1 goaltender back in action.
Monahan was selected sixth overall in the 2013 draft and has posted a team- leading six goals through nine games on the season. He is also tied for second on the Flames with nine points and though general manager Jay Feaster said the youngster still has things to work on, he will do so at the NHL level.
"As we always tell players, they make the decisions. The players decide and certainly in Sean's case, Sean decided," Feaster said on Wednesday. "Through those first nine games, he demonstrated that he can play in this league. He has not looked out of place and has not been a guy who's taken five or six minutes and a few shifts a night. He has seen his ice time increase through this trip."
By not returning Monahan to his junior club, the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League, the first season of his three-year, entry-level contract will activate as tonight will be his 10th game of the season.
"I didn't know what to expect," Monahan said of Wednesday's deadline for his return. "Obviously I was nervous going into this day and I'm just really happy to be part of this team and trying to help this team win games."
Monahan has been held without a point in just two of his nine games this season, including Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Lee Stempniak had a goal and Jiri Hudler assisted on Joe Colborne's third- period tally. Hudler has logged a point in all nine of Calgary's games this season, posting four goals and 12 points.
"We got some timely goals and made a game out of it, but too little, too late," Stempniak said. "We'd like to have a 60-minute effort to give ourselves a better chance."
Joey MacDonald allowed three goals on 32 shots as Calgary fell to 1-3-0 on its road trip and played without captain Mark Giordano due to a lower-body injury. The defenseman is questionable for tonight.
Karri Ramo is slated to make his fourth start of the season tonight for Calgary and has never before faced Dallas, which could see Kari Lehtonen return to net for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury in an Oct. 11 game against Winnipeg.
Lehtonen has missed Dallas' last five games and was activated from injured reserve on Monday. He is 2-1-0 with a 1.57 goals against average and .953 save percentage in three games this season.
"Hopefully I'm able to get going and kind of start where I left off," said Lehtonen. "That would be great. Every game is a new challenge and anything can happen. I just have to prepare myself."
Lehtonen is 6-3-2 with a 2.85 GAA in 11 career games versus the Flames.
Backup Dan Ellis started the first four games with Lehtonen sidelined, including Saturday's setback in Los Angeles. The Stars were in action the following night in Anaheim, with 21-year-old Jack Campbell making his NHL debut in net.
It was a rough one for Campbell, who yielded six goals on 47 shots faced.
Dallas took a two-goal lead after the first period thanks to tallies from Shawn Horcoff, Brenden Dillon and Ryan Garbutt, but did not score again and the Ducks went ahead with a three-goal second period.
"We came out strong after playing last night, got up to a 3-1 lead and it was really unfortunate for us to have that fall through," Garbutt said after his club's second straight loss and fourth in five games.
Garbutt won't get a chance to help his team get on track as he will begin serving a five-game suspension for charging Anaheim forward Dustin Penner during the second period of the loss. He left his feet to hit Penner after having just exited the penalty box, though was not penalized in the game.
Penner was helped to the dressing room and did not return to the game. He sat out Anaheim's contest at Toronto on Tuesday as well.
Dallas forward Erik Cole is also day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and did not practice on Wednesday.
The Stars lost two of three to the Flames last season, splitting two meetings in Dallas.