SVEN notwithstanding, Flames fans have had few high skill prospects to get excited about in the last decade. There have been plenty of “Coke Machine” prospects (big, strong, and zero skill) and a few all-around players (Erixon, Brodie, and Reinhart come to mind), but players whose raw offensive skill just dazzles you? They have been far and few between…which is what makes Johnny “Pocket” Gaudreau so special.
Though he flew under the radar for most of the season (despite some outstanding numbers in the USHL), Gaudreau burst onto the scene with an exceptional frosh year in the NCAA.
*Reminder – The evaluators were asked to rank players, and we sorted the rankings via a simple point scale-number 15 on each list got one point, while number 1 on each list got 15. The criteria for who was included was pretty simple: players the Flames control who are 23 and under (excluding Mikael Backlund, since he’s already a bona fide NHLer).
Scoring 44 points in 44 games is nothing short of terrific, especially as a (very) small freshman. Gaudreau checks in at a very optimistic 5′ 7" and 150 lbs. And yet to watch him play, you’d think every single one of those inches and pounds was pure kinetic energy.
Gaudreau was a bit of an off-the-board pick when he was selected in the fourth round in the 2011 Entry Draft. He’d had one USHL season where he scored 36-36-72 in 60 games- impressive to be sure, but hardly indicative of the explosive skill he’d demonstrate with the Boston College Eagles.
Even with scoring 21-23-44 in 44 games in the NCAA, Gaudreau has a long way to go before he’s NHL ready: he’ll need to gain more weight, build more strength, and generally make sure he’s capable of playing in a league where everyone outweights him by 50 lbs.
On the other hand, it’s hard to argue with this:
In that single clip, Gaudreau shows offensive brilliance, the strength to power through much bigger players, puck handling skills, and beautiful accuracy.
Gaudreau’s excellence didn’t just extend to lots of points: he also won the Beanpot MVP and the Bill Flynn Trophy for MVP of Hockey East, beating out teammates and rivals such as Chris Krieder, Matt Nieto, and Alex Chiasson.
There have been rumors that he was to be offered a contract this summer, but as of yet, nothing has become of them. Personally, I’d be shocked if Gaudreau wore the Flaming C or Heat colors in any meaningful manner before his senior year at BC despite his excellent College debut.
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