Five years ago, the Calgary Flames would not have chosen a guy like Johnny Gaudreau in the NHL Entry Draft.
First of all, Gaudreau is distinctively small. Even though he’s put on some size since last season, he was still noticably smaller than every player in Flames development camp save for Dustin Sylvester – I’d guess that Gaudreau may actually be slightly taller, but Sylvester is thicker.
Secondly, Gaudreau has both a distinctive Northeastern accent and a "aw shucks" complete lack of swagger. Despite bursting into a very competitive Hockey East conference as a freshman with a Boston College club that had lofty expectations, Gaudreau downplays his accomplishments and focuses on getting better. Yes, the arguably second-half MVP for Boston College and the guy who tore up the NCAA Frozen Four tournament en route to a national championship thinks he has holes in his game that he needs to fix.
FlamesNation’s Ryan Pike had the chance to chat with Gaudreau in-between sessions at Flames development camp.
Ryan Pike: How did school go last year?
John Gaudreau: It went well. I mean, BC’s a pretty tough school so I had a little trouble at the beginning managing my time and hockey and all the work and stuff, but I have a tutor out there and he helped me out a lot. I’m thankful that he helped me out so much.
RP: Given how well your first season in college went, have you given any thought to how long you’re going to stay in the NCAA?
JG: [I’m taking it] a year at a time. I’m not really sure how it’s going to go, but I like BC a lot. I have a great team there, a really close team, that’s really good for me, but right now just playing by year and going into each season looking forward to it throughout the year.
RP: What are your goals for next season?
JG: Definitely getting my weight up. I’m only 155, 160, between there, I think that’s one of my biggest goals. I need to get better at is working out in the weight room. I’d also like to get better in the defensive zone. I’d like to do that before I go anywhere else.
RP: Have you gotten any tips from some of the older guys here about putting on weight?
JG: A little. All of the guys are really nice and talk to the new guys like me and some of the new drafts and they help us out a lot. But not too much about my weight and how they grew with their weight and stuff like that. But that’s about it.
RP: Last year you were one of the last cuts from the American team for the World Juniors. Is making the team one of your goals?
JG: I hope I make it. I’m going out, beginning of August, go out there and try to hopefully make that team. It’d be an honour to make that and so I’m looking forward to try-outs.
RP: A couple of other Flames prospects, Jon Gillies and Patrick Sieloff, are also attending that USA Hockey camp in August. Does that make things more relaxed?
JG: It’s gonna make my time a lot easier. You’re gonna meet new guys, but it’s always good to have that one guy or two guys that you know there and it’s easier to talk to other people when you have more people around with you.
RP: A lot of people, both players and fans, are excited to see you at camps like this. (Goalie Jon Gillies even joked how he doesn’t want to play against you.) How does it feel to be thought of like that, and do you have any players that you’re keeping an eye on here?
JG: It’s an honour. It’s good that people want to watch me and like how I play and don’t want to play against me. It’s really cool how players think that. For me, every guy here is just a really good prospect and watching them all is really good and really fun to watch. But I like to watch Sven and Roman and Nemisz. Those guys I like watching and learning how they are on the ice.