Scouting report: BC’s Johnny Gaudreau and Billy Arnold



Boston College has two of the Flames’ more intriguing prospects on its roster, and in Johnny Gaudreau in particular, probably one of its two or three best.

Through the first three games of the season, Gaudreau was also BC’s best player, compiling 2-3-5 in that time, good for second on the team, behind his own linemate. That line, as I think I mentioned last week, scored seven of BC’s 10 goals in those three games, so you can see just how important Gaudreau has become to the team’s offense.

Game 1 – You Can Only Hope to Contain Johnny G

I expected to see more of the same on Friday night when I traveled to Lowell to see the top-ranked Eagles take on the No. 11 UMass Lowell River Hawks (full disclosure: That’s my alma mater), and got something considerably different. While Lowell has struggled for offense this season, that’s obviously not BC’s problem, and the assumption was that both teams would be able to shut the other down at least somewhat effectively. As it turned out, that was all too true. The game ended 1-0 to the visitors, which didn’t seem particularly fair given that they were outshot 38-20.

Lowell, as you might expect, focused most of its attentions on shutting down the Gaudreau line and was more or less effective in doing so, sending out Chad Ruhwedel — arguably the best two-way defenseman in the league — and Jake Suter, son of Gary and prodigious blocker of shots, to play against BC’s top scorers as often as was possible. Gaudreau would show the occasional flashes of brilliance that have quickly become his trademark, but Lowell’s tight defense held him more or less to the perimeter and seemed content to let him skillfully dance around people as long as he was doing it far from the center of the ice. Where he particularly succeeded for the vast majority of the game was in making guys miss, but when the other team’s best line only puts four shots on goal total (including just one by Gaudreau), then Lowell had to be happy with that.

Of course, one of those four shots was the only one that went in, and that was classic playmaking by the Eagles’ sophomore sensation. On a breakout just 3:17 into the final period, when the game was obviously still scoreless, BC’s leading scorer Pat Mullane got the puck down the left wing and fed to Gaudreau in slipstream, who delayed for a split second. I don’t know how he saw Steven Whitney streaking into the slot, but the pass was right on his tape, and the shot beat Doug Carr, one of the best goaltenders in the country, high blocker.

I say I don’t know how he saw it, and that’s all well and good, but Whitney said basically the same thing. Except given that he plays with the guy, maybe he’s just come to expect that every pass will end up looking fantastic.

"Johnny Gaudreau just has eyes on the back of his head," Whitney told reporters after the game. "He saw me coming late and gave it to me and there was a screen in the front of the goalie."

Gaudreau was also out a little bit on the penalty kill, which went 4-for-4 against a pretty skilled Lowell team, but saw no power play time because the River Hawks didn’t commit any infractions. Arnold, who you’d be right to call the best two-way forward in the conference, was far more in evidence on the PK, but as with all but one of his other games, he was held off the scoresheet.

Game 2 – Bill Arnold Makes a Mark

The same could not be said for Sunday’s return engagement at Boston College, where the Eagles’ offense rained goals on Carr and won 6-3. Arnold and linemate Kevin Hayes were the stars, scoring three of BC’s goals between them, and both of Hayes’ came on the power play. Arnold opened the scoring just over four minutes into the game.

Any questions critics might have had about BC’s scoring depth were likely answered in this one, given that five different guys got on the scoresheet (including Gaudreau, who also finished plus-2). From a BC perspective, there was a lot more to like about this game, because it dictated the play, rather than letting Lowell do it and being lucky to escape with two points, as they were Friday. From a Lowell perspective, when you’re letting BC dictate anything to you in their own building, you’re lucky to only give up six most nights.

"We have two lines now that are going to have to be really scoring for us and I think Billy [Arnold’s] line stepped up for us tonight," coach Jerry York said.

It’s important to keep in mind that when it comes to experience, Arnold and Gaudreau still have a ways to go. They’ve both won a national title, but they’re still pretty young where college hockey is concerned, and while they don’t often look it, will obviously need more work. Playing under York will go a long way to making them pro-ready, and both have some skills that are already on that level. While point production is the one thing everyone will point to as being indicative of whether they’re succeeding at this level, rounding out their games will be the most important thing going forward. Especially because it once again looks like they’ll be scoring for fun all winter.

  • they should probably both stay in college for the full 4 years, for various reasons. Yes, even Gaudreau.

    Arnold is my flat-out favourite Flames prospect (which is certainly not to say I think he’s the best, of course). Great to see him finally start making an impact on the scoresheet.

      • Parallex

        If he stays in school the full four years what are the benefit for him to sign with the Flames? He basically becomes a free agent if he waits the full four years no?

        He could just decide that he wants to stick around Mass. and sign with the Bruins or maybe he longs to be closer to home and decides to sign with one of the NY/NJ teams.

        Makes far more sense for the Flames to try and get him to sign after his junior year.

        I’d like to see Bill Arnold signed right after the college season ends (CBA permitting).

    • Parallex

      I agree Baalzamon.

      Arnold has shown growth from the time he was drafted.

      I remember he was one of few Flames draft that year that were in the building when his name was called. Then he paid his own way to that first prospects camp and showed well, in my opinion. Good size and plays well in his own end. May not be a first liner, but could be a solid third liner in the NHL, and someone who just might be able to chip in with 15 goals a year.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    As far as prospects go Johnny G is my pick for most interesting. If he can continue to develop and hopefully add some size, we could have a very special player dawning Flames colours. Yes, I know lots more to see, but I watched him play a game in the final 4 – pure talent.

    • T&A4Flames

      the sad thing is, Gaudreau is still bigger than me.

      I don’t actually think Gaudreau is much of a flight risk. He has seemed pretty happy to be part of the organization, and certainly enjoys being in the same system as Arnold.

      Then again, I would never have called Schultz jumping on the first plane out of anaheim.

      In spite of my feeling that he should stay in college for the full 4, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he signed with the Flames after his Junior season. He does seem rather inclined to complete his school work, though, so he might just want to finish the degree whether Feaster and co. think he’s ready or not.

    • Truculence

      That`s odd. Both the Herald and Sun stated that Gadereau was a little under 5`9 this past summer. He is visibly taller than Sylvester, who is listed as 5`7 and plays on the Heat.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I don’t think the Flames should actively push him too hard, but I don’t see anything wrong with offering him a contract at the end of this or next season. If he ends up needing a little more development, that’s what the AHL is for. And I realize a major part of staying in the NCAA is the full scholarship, but the money made in a single season in the AHL would be enough to cover the cost of a year at Boston College.

    Looks like the standard is 60-70k AHL salary for high-level ELCs, and I assume he’d get the signing bonus regardless of whether he’s in the NHL or AHL, so he could be making six figures in the minors.