Talking About John Gaudreau



When the Flames announced John Gaudreau’s name at the entry draft in Minnesota, it was the first time I’d ever heard of him. I had to look his stats at hockeydb to make sure he was a real hockey player. There I discovered he put up fine numbers, but was the size of most 10th-graders at 5’6" and 140 pounds.

Since then I’ve done some digging and what I’ve discovered about the tiny winger has intrigued me. Despite his diminutive size, the New Jersey native scored 36 goals and 72 points in just 60 games for the USHL’s Dubuque Fight Saints. Only one other player managed more than 60 points on the club (Vinny Saponari) and it was his 20-year old season. Scott Reynolds recently look at NHL equivalency numbers (meaning, translating a players PPG pace in his respective league to the NHL equivalent) and Gueadreau placed 28th overall. To put that in perspective, Joel Armia placed 27th, Rocco Grimaldi placed 32nd, Tomas Jurco, Brandon Saad…even further down the list.

Gaudreau’s season was so good last year he was named the USHL’s rookie of the year, an award voted on by coaches and managers in that league:

"I join all the League’s General Managers in congratulating John on one of the best rookie years we’ve seen in the USHL in quite a while," said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince.  "He was a great player on one of the USHL’s strongest teams.  He may not be the biggest player on the ice – but as he’s heard and will continue to hear throughout his career, no one plays a bigger game."

Another arrow pointing in the right direction for Gaudreau is hia age: an August, 1993 birthday means he was one of the younger draft eligible players available. He won’t even turn 18 until next month. This means Gaudreau was putting up numbers despite both his size and his age. It also means he’ll have a bit more time to fill out and bulk up before he reaches the pro game.

It’s not just the numbers that are complimentary to Gaudreau however. First hand accounts and scouting reports trickling in from the Flames recent development camp have all included rave reviews of his skill level.

“Anybody you’ve talked to about him, the bigger the game, the tougher the game, the better he played,” said head coach Brent Sutter. “That’s a very intriguing sign. They say he’s got great bite to his game. You don’t measure the heart of a player by how big he is.”

 That’s from Randy Sportak’s recent article on the kid. Calgarypuck member Flamesrule14 had this to say about Gaudreau’s performance at camp:

Caught myself watching him most of the sessions. So incredibly small. Seriously his jersey must be 2 sizes to big and he looks like a boy amoung men. Damn though he has all world skill. Real good shot and just great with the puck. Had a little trouble with the power skating(especially going backwards), but still has pretty good speed. Head is always up too. Him and Wahl just put on an absolute clinic on one of the 2 on 2 drills. If he can get some size and strength I definetly think he could be a player. Time is on his side too with him going to college so he can really develop and hopefully become a steal. Definitely the guy I came away today most impressed with.

FlamesNation’s own Pat Steinberg attended some of the sessions and will no doubt be sharing his own thoughts on the player. I’d be surprised if his observations don’t echo what we’ve already heard, however.

As a smaller player during my hockey playing days, I have a more personal reason beyond my Flames fanship to root for Gaudreau to make it. I also find it heartening the Flames would make this sort of selection – not only since it signals a real change in their direction in terms of drafting, but because this is exactly the sort of gamble teams should make in the middle rounds of the draft: high skill players who have fallen through cracks for one reason or the other. Gaudreau’s never going to be the biggest guy on his team, but if he can add three inches and 30 pounds, the Flames might just have a 4th round steal on their hands.

  • Who do we have scouting US juniors or college bound players, cause who ever it is, is doing a bang up job IMO(well these last two years).

    Last year with Bill arnold falling as far as he did was kinda surprising, ranked 36th, picked at 108, but seems like a solid pick up and has a few years of development left and was a US World Junior invite as well.

    John Ramage also won gold in the World Junior tournament with the US and he will be with College for a while so we can wait on him as well.

    And now with Gaudreau, his young B-day suggesting he will get taller and bigger(though probably not a lot) and a ton of skill. I really liked this pick. If a guy can overcome a bit of a size issue with his overall skill and make the bigger guys around him better I’m all for it.

  • @ Colin

    I have to say that one of the things that’s bothered me about the Flames during the Sutter era is how they seemingly overlooked U.S. College players. I appreciate that they drafted Ramage and Arnold (who, incidentally, put up some decent 1st year numbers at Boston College), but it seems to me that they could be a bit better at signing U.S. College free agents. I give some kudos Brian Burke for following this appraoch.

    I take some comfort in the fact that, at least according to jay Feaster, the Flames were in the running to signing some College free agents (i.e. Stephane Da Costa).

    Correct me if I’m wrong but, as a USHL player heard for the NCAA, don’t the Flames Hold Gaudreau’s rights for 4 years?

    • Yeah we hold on to their rights till they are out of college because if they go to college you can’t sign them or they lose their “ametuer” status. And its not really fair to the player or the team that if you draft them as an 18 year old they re-enter the draft after two years, because then no team would draft 18 year old college kids cause they would just have to re-draft them later.

      They can after the school year sign a contract and join the team and not finish school, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you think they are gonna make your team that year, why not let them get bigger or stronger first wait till they are out of school and then sign them to an ELC.

  • Everything I have heard about this kid, other then his size, has been positive. I am eager to hear Pat’s observations from the development camp.

    I assume he won’t be at camp or the young guns tourny in September? Too bad. I would love to see how he matches up against other prospects in a game situation.

    • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

      I would think he would go to the young guns tourney, the only downside would he would have to pay for himself(NCAA rules is that he can’t get his way paid or he is recieving improper benefits or some bullcrap and he loses his ametuer status), thats what he did this time as well, he paid his own way to attend the prospects camp here. So if he wants to do it a second time he very well could. I don’t think he will be attending training camp because he is committed to college.

    • Not NFL rules, NCAA, probably one of the worst organizations on the face of the planet. Any sort of compenstation any of their players might recieve will result in that player losing their ametuer status and getting kicked out of school and may result in their school recieving fines and sanctions. If you want to see how these kinda things work, just look up whats currently happening to Ohio State, or what recently happened with I belive it was Georgia or even a little further back with USC and that whole debocle. You hear about it more in the NCAA football side of things because schools will do just about anything to get the best recruits.

      • It’s close to indentured servitude. College athletes get scholarships and such, but no other compensation is allowed, including teams paying for guys to come to things like development camp. On the other end, colleges and institutions like NCAA literally make billions of dollars off the backs of these kids.

        • No to mention these guys that run these so called “great” bowl games(terrible format) are making over 1 million or more per season just to run a single bowl game, how the hell is that fair to any single athlete.

          Its great to see Gaudreau able to come out but still, for everyone else in the camp to get comp’d for it and him to have to pay, I hope everyone is buying him a dinner.

  • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

    Fehr to the Jets for the proverbial bag of pucks. That gets WSH up to par with the cap – only $3M to go to sign Alzner. Would they deal Wideman? No Jay, we don’t want him – all the pain of Green with no upside.

  • I grew up with a USHL team in my hometown, Thunder Bay Flyers. We had some good teams, but it’s a Junior B league. The odd player comes out of there. (Two friends of mine got drafted while playing for the Flyers but one had a cup of coffee in the NHL the other never saw above the ECHL) The skill level in that league is fairly low. It’s below the NCAA and well below the CHL. I’d say players from there are a risk but can turn into something. Most play there then go collegiate where they hone their skills. One thing I do question about teams, especially the Flames, is drafting players who have committed to a collegiate team. As mentioned, it is my belief they cannot sign with any professional team, nor have an agent or they loose their eligibility. This has been a problem in the NBA and NFL. Not only would they loose their eligibility so they wont sign, then we get into, if a draftee isnt signed in 2 years they go back in. Why take the risk?

    • The 2 year not getting signed rule doesn’t apply to draftees that are committed to college. As long as they are in college we maintain their rights.

      We would retain the rights to that player the entire time while they are in college. As well we have until 30 days after they finish college to sign them to a contract or trade their rights to another team, after the 30 days they become a free agent. However, just because the kid doesn’t have an agent and can’t technically sign doesn’t mean a GM can’t discuss with the kid a potential contract for when they leave college.

      For example I believe Montreal recently had a first round pick who went to college(Leblanc), who took a contract with Montreal after his first season. So GMs can still talk with these kids.

      I have no problem taking these College players as long as we don’t lose them for nothing once they are finished college.

    • What you say about the USHL may be true, but what I have been hearing lately is that that league has improved quite a bit in the least few years. Boomer on the FAN 960 said after this years draft that more players were selected from the USHL than from the Quebec league so it appears something is changing.

  • I heard an interview with Gaudreau on or shortly after he was drafted and he said that he was sort of so-so on going to Northeastern and might try to get out of it. Something to do with the coach changing after he signed his commitment letter or something.

    While I think it is clear that there can be a lot of benefits from the NCAA route, I am wondering if Gaudreau wouldn’t be better off getting into Abbotsford or the WHL if he could.

    • Gaudreau could not play in Abbotsford for the next two seasons, Can’t play in the AHL till he is 20 years old, as Per Steinberg from the Baertschi posting.

      If he isn’t keen on Northeastern, there are ways to transfer to other schools, I’ve heard of it in NCAA football a bunch of times, don’t know if its to late to do that for this upcoming season though. If he really feels that the NCAA is not where he belongs or he feels kinda short changed after the coach or whatever left, then he would have to go to the CHL or another developmental league. IMO US college hockey is probably the best bet for him because of his size, there is still a lot of goonery in the WHL/OHL and with his size you never know what some dumb goon could pull.

      • I could be wrong, but I thought that was an agreement with the CHL as opposed to an age restriction. Basically to keep from looting the best talent from the CHL.

        Though I agree. I think College may be the best place for him to gain size before entering into either the CHL or AHL.

        • No you are correct, I’ve went and checked it out, Europeans and College prospects that are 18 before September 15th of that current year can play in the AHL. Its between the CHL and European players coming over to play in the CHL that have to be 20 before going to the AHL.

          Even then, I would NOT want Gaudreau to play in the AHL at his age and size, some of the stupid STUPID goons that people employ in that league would just wreck him cause their tiny brains would think it was funny. I think his best development is in a place like college hockey or maybe the QJMHL where its more skill over size and hitting.

  • I liked what I saw from Gaudreau in the Calgary puck forum videos. He is great at stick-handling the puck out of reach from would-be checkers. Plus, his ability to make passes is uncanny–he has excellent timing.

    My one reservation is all the sheeple will scream “gooOoOoOooOOooOoo” every time he touches the puck. Lame.

  • Yeah Gaudreau has to stay away from pro hockey right now at his size.

    College is a somewhat risky route to take for development purposes: there are less games and the prime ice time is usually reserved for the older guys. That said, it’s also a pretty decent level of competition because guys range in age from 18-22 or so, rather than the teens in the CHL.