FlamesNation chats with Johnny Gaudreau

 

 

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.

  • NHL93

    The guy is champ. I would love to see him in a Flames jersey once he graduates.
    Does he have an advantage playing against a wider spectrum of players (relatively mature men) in NCAA than against other ‘kids’ in the CHL?

  • MattyFranchise

    Well, Nemisz is a pro and Goudreau isn’t. Nemisz may suck at hockey but he’s been around at a higher level than Goudreau for a while. I’m sure there’s something to learn from him.

  • SmellOfVictory

    @NHL93: I think he specifically benefits because the NCAA guys are more physically mature, on average, than CHLers. For a smaller dude with whom the primary concern is physical ability against grown men, it’s a better test of adaptability.

    • Truculence

      You may have more mature guys in the NCAA, but the CHL is more physical, both in terms of hits and scraps. I think Gauderau would have a rougher go of it in the CHL, particularly the WHL. But he`s seemingly got skill and heart, so he would prolly have adapted (I`ve heard trying to hit the kid is like punching air).

      It`s probably good he took the USHL and NCAA route instead of the CHL. Guys like Ferland, Dumba and their ilk would have had him in their sights all night, and at 140 lbs, he might enter orbit if they were lucky enough to nail him. Injury risk would have been significantly higher.

      He can cope better with more physical players as he adds weight and becomes more experienced.

      Also, I read an article in the Sun that Weisbrod wants him on the Flames next year if Gauderau rips it up in the NCAA this year. Gauderau said he himself is up for it and would even prefer it, even though he wouldn`t mind playing with his bro at BC the year after next.

  • Sobueno

    It’s always good to hear that he feels he still has holes in his game to work on. I’m sure complacency has killed many a prospect when things seem to be heading in the right direction. Plus, honest self-evaluation is key too. Hope he tears it up in Boston this year!

  • MC Hockey

    I hope he maintains his work ethic and humility as those things will go along way towards him being the next Martin St. Louis. Let’s hope the Flames don’t handle him like they did MSL however or he will tear it up in 5 years for some other team.

  • Sobueno

    When Gaudreau was drafted and I heard all the “He’s small but super skilled” talk, being the pessimist I am I pretty much wrote him off as a project that had a low chance of making the NHL. But after hearing rumbles of how truly skilled he was I started to pay attention.

    I watched some of the Frozen Four and was impressed he seemed very dangerous and shifty on the ice. I vaguely remember him having a “bad” game, sub par game is a better descriptor but other than that he was really outstanding and clutch.

    Having the pleasure of a hernia operation I had some time off work and had a few chances to see him at the prospect camp. Watching him you can see his skill just oozes out on the ice. He has a pretty sweet shot, he has a knack of avoid being hit and can make a guy look REALLLY bad. I am not sure if he is the best skater but he isn’t Derian Hatcher terrible.

    The one thing that stood out for me was the shootout goal that he had. He went in with intensity and focus, his eyes locked on the goalie, stick handling back and forth. Then at the last moment he kinda let up and using his stick like a shuffleboard cue one handed it thru the goalies 5 hole. I remember when he scored gasping and thinking “WOW that takes some balls.”

    Anyway I am a fan and I think Gaudreau is more than just a run of a mill “small guy with skill” that every organization has.

    • That’s rather melodramatic.

      He’s a mediocre prospect given his draft position. Full stop. If he becomes an everyday NHLer at this point, it should be considered a win.

      I’m not personally cheering against him or anything. Just my assessment based on what I’ve I’ve seen from him on the ice and what the numbers suggest. If he takes a big step forward and develops into something more than replacement level, that will be great for him and org.

      • Reidja

        It’s a metaphore… Something about claiming to see the future. Agreed, it would be melodramatic if I were being literal (and totally gross too).

        I’m seeing way too much negativity leveled for some prospects and way too much praise for others around here these days. I guess you can only beat up the players that currently carry the puck for this team for so long though eh?