A Closer Look at John Gaudreau

 

I usually save this sort of analysis for the off-season, but now that Johnny Gaudreau is the Flames most important, high profile prospect outside of Sven Baertschi (and whoever they pick in the top-5 this summer), I didn’t want to wait on things. It was recently announced that Gaudreau would be returning to Boston College to play next year (killing any chance of him turning pro any time soon) so this seems topical as well.

As many probably already know, Gaudreau had a massive season this year. He led Boston College in scoring with 51 points in 35 games, won a gold medal with the US team in the World Junior Hockey Championships and is a finalist in the Hobey Baker race (College’s "best player" award), something that is almost always bestowed on guys two or three years his senior. Oh, Gaudreau was also named Hockey East’s player of the year and BC fans are so enamoured with the 19-year old that they are making shirts in his honor.

Not bad for a tiny guy who was a 4th round pick.

Gaudreau vs Gerbe

The enduring question for any prospect is: will he be able to make it work as a pro? Gaudreau has constantly excelled at every level he has played at thus far despite his diminutive stature, but that’s true of a lot of guys until they try to break into the show.

One potential comparable is the NHL’s current holder of the "league’s smallest dude" title – Nathan Gerbe. Andrew Walker mentioned him as a mirror for Gaudreau on twitter this morning:

 

 

It’s a natural comparison. Beyond the size thing, Gerbe was also a big scorer for BC, a Hobey Baker finalist in 2008 and a 5th round pick for the Sabres. Let’s see just how close the two players are in the same seasons:

Nathan Gerbe

Season points PPG team rank
18-19 18 0.46 8th
19-20 47 1.15 2nd
20-21 68 1.58 1st

John Gaudreau

Season points PPG team rank
18-19 44 1.00 2nd
19-20 51 1.46 1st
20-21 NA NA NA

As you can see, Gaudreau is tracking ahead of Gerbe at this point in their respective careers. Gerbe developed into a difference maker by his sopohmore season, but Gaudreau was already there as a freshman. The latter’s average point-per-game pace in two seasons (1.20) is superior to Gerbe’s college career average (1.08), even with that monster final season under Gerbe’s belt. At the same age, Gerbe had scored 65 points in 80 games (0.81 PPG). Gaudreau has 95 points in 79.

It’s an interesting comparison, although I’m not sure how much we can take from it given it’s only a single guy. Still, Gerbe is an NHLer (albeit not a great one) and Gaudreau is ahead of him in similar circumstances.

Other Context

Two other useful bits of context when it comes to prospect’s output are percentage of team offense and percentage of points scored at even strength. This information tends to weed out the guys who are riding the coattails of a powerful team or are overly dependent on special teams to prop up their numbers.

For example, former Flames first rounder Greg Nemisz put up superficially good counting stats for Windsor in his OHL career, but the Spitfires were a juggernaut and it turned out he was only in on about 25-27% of his team’s scoring in any given season. Legitimate prospects tend to be up over 35% and difference makers usually break 40% or higher. If I recall correctly, Sven Baertschi settled into the 42-43% range for Portland in his final season there.

Luckily I was able to find game-by-game stats for Gaudreau’s regular season in college this year. In 29 games, he scored 47 points, while his team totaled 99 – meaning he was in on over 47% (!) of his club’s total scoring when he was in the line-up. Gaudreau scored 36 of his 47 points at even strength, meaning about 77% of his points came at 5on5 – another very strong number.

Conclusion

Along with the awards and accolades being showered on Gaudreau, the stats paint a fairly rosey picture of the Flames prospect. Johnny Hockey is tracking well ahead of his closest NHL comprable at the same age and his contextual numbers suggest he’s a legitimate difference maker for Boston College who contributes on a high percentage of their scoring and isn’t reliant on favorable special teams ice time to put points on the board.

  • everton fc

    I understand that there is some consternation over the fact that Gaudreau wants to spend another year at BC. Some say he is essentially trying to pull a Justin Schultz type maneuver. I’m not sure if this is the case or not, but it would seem to make sense for Gaudreau to stay in college given the current state of the Flames. I’m assuming he won’t burn a year of his ELC if he stays at BC, so it should be of benefit to the Flames as well, no?

    • I’m not too bothered with all that stuff to tell you the truth. A lot of college players spend 3 or 4 years in school and only a vanishingly small percentage choose to pull a Justin Schultz.

      Given Gaudreau’s size and development, there’s absolutely no reason to rush him into the pro game either.

  • I thought since he went right to the NCAA after being drafted he cannot pull a Shultz, even if he still could with the new CBA?

    Shultz spent another year in the league he was in, during his draft year, after he was drafted and went to NCAA the year after.

    This is the loophole that allowed him to jump ship, I believe…

    The new CBA may or may not have abolished this loophole, even if it hasnt he seemilgly cannot become an unrestriced free agent anytime soon..

    Even if he could I dont think Johnny would ditch us, Shultz was a doosh and planned his exit from Anahiem immediately after being drafted…

      • Truculence

        Of course not. I would have been ecstatic if he signed here.

        I know its hypocritical but I probably would have seen it as the hockey gods evening out the Erixon debacle for us.

        I guess Schultz isnt as big a douche as Erixon, since Erixon never wanted to play here and played it off as if there was no opportunity here. He would be a top 4 here right now for sure.

        Schultz was probably mishandled by Anahiem, while we were just sandbagged by Erixon.

        I guess the hockey gods did something in sending Erixon to Columbus…

  • Mitch2

    Feaster is a genius for drafting this guy (had to write that 🙂

    Often we rip the guy to pieces but since he came aboard we already are seeing better prospect potential, aren’t we?

    • We really don’t know. The 2011 draft looks like a winner, but we really can’t say yet. Almost every draft looks good a year or two down the road. It’s when the kids start hitting the wall as pros that you really get the measure of a draft.

      That said, the 2012 draft doesn’t look especially extraordinary to me. Jon Gillies is the lone shining star there so far.

  • Mitch2

    Certainly not reason to panic yet. He does need another year of physical development, no doubt. However, if he doesn’t sign immediately after the season, the Flames should start shopping him while they can still sell high. If for no other reason than to see what’s out there. If it’s crap, than you wait longer.

    What does happen after his 4th year?

    • as has been mentioned ad nauseum, the Flames CANNOT sign him until he leaves college. This is true of ALL college prospects. Signing a pro contract destroys NCAA eligibility forever. Since he’s returning to BC next season, the Flames cannot–and will not–sign him to an ELC.

      After he leaves College, the Flames have a few months of holding his rights. If he were to leave college this instant, the Flames would have until the middle of August to sign him.

      They have until August to sign Hanowski and Ramage, FYI.

      • Parallex

        Truth be told I don’t know if they want to sign Ramage… I’ve never heard them express any desire to get him signed and I’ve never heard them trumpet him. He might end up getting passed by.

        On a another NCAA non-Gaudreau note Arnold is going to be wearing a letter next year for BC. He’ll get one of the Assistent Captains next year.

        • McRib

          Former Michigan Tech Defenseman-Steven Seigo is a much more rounded defenseman than Ramage. If the Flames wanted to sign John Ramage, I highly doubt they would have recently signed Siego to an AHL tryout. Seigo had 22 more points in college in a much weaker program than Ramage.

          Only Blake Wheeler & Justin Schultz have pulled the NCAA Opt out clause in recent memory. It’s not something that happens very often. When the Flames drafted Gaudreau he was not a celebrated prospect like the other two. Only two/three teams even had him on their radar (Boston was one of them, they were hoping for him in the fifth). But I doubt he screws over a team that took that big of a chance on him. Anaheim also handled Schultz horribly pestering him to leave after his sophomore season. They also gave him a lukewarm Pro Contract Offer. If anything letting Gaudreau make his decision to stay on his own terms helps. Also if the kid doesn’t want to play for the Flames then I DONT want him, which I doubt is the case.

      • Parallex

        I get that. I’m talking about after this coming season. He may want to stay 4 years, but do you want to take the chance that he signs after the 4th year? Maybe, maybe not. I’m just thinking that if he still doesn’t want to turn pro in a year from now you start seeing what he’s worth.

  • Parallex

    The thing about Gerbe though is he’s a very physical player. Gaudreau really isn’t. No one anywhere disputes Gaudreau’s talent level, but the question is whether his game will translate to levels where the physical edge gets ramped up against him.

    It’s a good sign that he scores so much in college, though, since the average age is something like 21/22 years old. Most college players are very physically mature.

    • McRib

      You may be confusing Gerbe with Ennis, as at least in my opinion I have NEVER seen Gerbe even come close to hitting someone at the NHL level. Gerbe also at 5’5″ is legitimately the smallest NHLer ever!! Gaudreau is easily 2-3 inches taller than him at 5’8”-5’9″ and plays an entirely different game.

      Comparing Rocco Grimaldi to Nathan Gerbe is much more of a valid comparison for me. The only similarities between Gaudreau and Gerbe is they both played for Boston College and are below 5’10”. Gaudreau has a much better Hockey IQ, more size and more production so far.

  • McRib

    Another thing to consider with the Gerbe/Gaudreau coparisons is Gaudreau is easily 2-3 inches taller than the tiny 5’5″-5’6″ Gerbe. The same can also be said after watching him at the World Juniors, when he was playing with Rocco Grimaldi. It may not be a major stat, but considering most smaller players add an inch or two to their respective heights, Gaudreau looks to actually be in the 5’8″-5’9″ range compareed to Gerbe/Grimaldi. A couple of inches at that height is a big deal!! Giving him the potential to be more of a Cory Conacher than Gerbe at the next level.

    • Gaudreau is listed at 5’6″ and 150 lbs in most hockey publications. He is listed as 5’8″ and 153 lbs on the BC website. Typically the stats in the program are inflated somewhat.

      I really like him and hope he succeeds but I really think he is going to have a tough time making the transition to playing against men. I think he’s a lot closer to being a smaller Braden Kozen than anything else.

      • McRib

        The United States World Junior Roster had Gaudreau listed at 5’9″, while they had Grimaldi listed at 5’6″… Why would they list Grimaldi at 5’6′” and inflate Gaudreau to 5’9″?? From watching them it also seemed accurate, as Gaudreau was easily two/three inches taller.

        I think most of the 5’6″ listings are start of freshman year. He has said publicly that he grew a few inches since then.

        Regardless Gaudreau is easily three/four inches taller than Gerbe!! Haha. Honestly 5’8″-5’9″ isn’t that bad for the NHL, thats Cory Conacher/Brendan Gallagher height, i.e. two of the NHLs top rookies. He just needs to put on some weight.

        • I’ll reserve judgment until I see him playing against men. Kozen lit up the WHL and is 5’9″ 162. Now that he’s in the AHL his offensive numbers are much more pedestrian. There are lots of examples of guys at any size that could score in junior/college but couldn’t bring it to the next level. There are also a host of players that could score in the AHL but not the NHL. We haven’t even seen if he can score at the AHL level.

          If he’s 5’8″ or 5’9″ he might still have the same problem and I’m not one of those guys that says you need to be a Coke machine on skates to play in the NHL.

          The difficulty for smaller guys is that they have to be top notch offensive players to really succeed. It is tough to be the shut-down defender or two-way player when you are much smaller than many of the other players. If you don’t have the physical attributes to be a more multi-dimensional player or to re-define what you bring to the table at the next level you have fewer options.

          That said, I really like the kid and I’m rooting for him (I feel the same way about Kozen) I just think that he’s got a really uphill climb to succeed in the NHL.

  • Craig

    Gaudreau and Jankowski just need to hit the gym this offseason and start building a commitment to being strong. If they can create that foundation now, they will be much more prepared to hit the pros. For Gaudreau to succeed he’s going to have to be one of the strongest guys on the team, to make up for height and weight.

  • McRib

    Kent…something smells here! Similar to the Rangers whispering in Tim Erixon’s dads ear I can see Chiarelli (Boston) doing same with Gaudreau’s daddy.

    Flames beware!!!!!!!!!

    • Parallex

      Gaudreau’s father has zero connections to Chiarelli or the Bruins that we know of… he doesn’t even live in Boston. They live in New Jersey.

      The only connection the whole family has to Boston the municipality is through Johnny.

      Relax nothing fishy going on. The family just values education and Johnny probably wants to get to play with his brother.

      • McRib

        Only Blake Wheeler & Justin Schultz have pulled the NCAA opt out clause in recent memory.

        It’s not something that happens very often. When the Flames drafted Gaudreau he was not a celebrated prospect like the other two. Only two/three teams even had him on their radar, Boston was one of them. But I doubt he screws over a team that took a chance on him.

        Anaheim also handled Schultz horribly pestering him to leave after his sophomore season. They also gave him a lukewarm Pro Contract Offer. If anything letting Gaudreau make his decision to stay on his own terms helps.

      • Truculence

        Relax…hahaha…We lost Erixon our most highly prized prospect and if you think there was no backroom stuff going on well I have some land I want to sell you….cheap price too!

  • McRib

    Re: The Schultz Wheeler Rule

    This is what I have found.

    The old CBA rule that was problematic was Section 8.6 of the CBA which read:

    “If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19, who had received a Bona Fide Offer in accordance with Section 8.6(a)(ii) above, becomes a bona fide college student prior to the second June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft and does not remain a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain exclusive rights for the negotiation of his services until the fourth June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft.”

    (see http://www.sportsworldreport.com/articles/3176/20120629/nhl-free-agents-2012-justin-schultz-cba-loophole-ducks.htm)

    It is tough to tell if the new CBA closed this loophole. The “Summary of Terms” states:

    Current rules regarding exclusive negotiating rights for College Players will remain status quo. Parties to incorporate NHL/NHLPA Agreement on College Players leaving college prior to graduation (but following the fourth June 1 after date of Draft) (i.e., Goepfert Letter Agreement).

    (see http://www.nhlpa.com/inside-nhlpa/collective-bargaining-agreement)

    What is the Goepfert Letter Agreement? Good question. Nobody outside the NHLPA or NHL seems to know. I googled it and links like this (http://unitedstatesofhockey.com/2013/01/16/new-cba-unlikely-to-bring-relief-to-college-hockey/) and this (https://twitter.com/cbuckser/status/290332767357632513)

    However, because Johnny Hockey entered college straight after his draft year, it appears that he would have to sit out a year if he wants to try and take advantage of the loophole in any event. Schultz and Wheeler’s exclusive negotiating periods expired a year relatively earlier because they had started college a year relatively later.

    • McRib

      Good find, kind of thought this loophole was rectified in the new CBA. At least for Blake Wheeler I know the major reason he never signed with Phoenix was that all of the ownership/management that drafted him had changed by the time he left college. Similar to Schultz and Burke leaving Anaheim.

    • Truculence

      Tach, you are hundred percent correct regarding Gauderau. Johnny G would have to sit out another year after opting out of college. Wheeler and Schultz did indeed not go to College immediately after the draft like Janko and Johnny.

      I read the exact same thing on a TheHockeyNews article.

      Good work.

  • I also don’t see the comparison between Gerber and Johnny. Two different players by far. Statistically they might look the same but this is why scouts actually go watch players play the sport.

    And if you paid attention to the world junior this year and the way the US team deployed Johnny you’d understand. The world jr US team set up their offensive zone a lot like they were playing hoops with Johnny running the plays from what would be the equivalent to the point guard position. A position that requires a high basketball intelligence. Now I don’t know how they deploy him at BC as I have not had a chance to watch him play there and despite attempts to find a stream during the playoffs this year I wasn’t ever able to link up with their schedule or a feed. Johnny definitely has a high IQ the fact that the US team had him running everything through the neutral zone and in the offensive zone was a testament to his skill and vision for the ice. And keep in mind he was just a sophomore. Gerber on the other hand has none of that and is just a fringe player. I don’t expect JG to be our saviour or our rocket richard winner but I do expect JG to be a vital component to a team whose management staff keeps saying they want to get younger, get more skilled and have a better forecheck. JG also give you a vital skill set in someone who can see the ice and quarterback things five on five because of his skating ability, hands and visiuospatial awareness. Something the Flames haven’t had since the 80’s.

    As for him staying in college. I think the Gaudreau family is just one of those families who emphasizes school. Keep in mind that being a smaller player with out the certainties of a future career in the NHL having a degree is a big factor in decision making. I don’t think this is Johnny pulling any sort of shenanigans in not wanting to sign or to avoid signing. He’s just 19 coming off a career season at BC. I don’t think I’d want to leave that atmosphere to come to the uncertain territory and waters of Calgary right away either. I think we will see JG at training camp prior to the 2014/15 season.

  • McRib

    What was the name of that defender Feaster and Weisbrodt were reportedly trying to sign out of the NCAA. That news broke around the deadline they were pursuing this one guy. Any update on that? How good is he?

    As far as Johnny bolting, I dont think it will happen. Even if he has intentions there is nothing us or the Flames can do to change it. In all fairness it is a sport created for the fun and entertainment of all; I dont think this is something getting worked up over. As my boss tells me, just focus on the things you can control. Feaster went through this with douche and I promise you his sensitivity to it is very high to this possibility. That is why we saw him sign Sven hours after he was drafted.

    How far away is Bill Arnold? There is a guy who has a much lower ceiling but could be of real value to the Flames if/when he is signed. Much lower ceiling but better odds of reaching that potential as a 3rd line center I would say.

    The Flames have some giant holes but if they dont botch this draft they should easily walk away with a #1 center, and 2 top prospects. Add in Backlund and Arnold in the future + Sven and Gaudreau. You can really see how this might all come together quickly with a little luck. What is the draft class the year after this one looking like?

    • McRib

      Dan Dekeyser?? He signed with his home state Red Wings a week ago, has already played a couple of games. He looked great shutting down Chicago on Saturday. That was just a pipedream for us, Detroit almost signed him last year before he returned to college with a change of heart. Calgary did quitely pickup a solid NCAA defensive prospect Steven Seigo a few weeks ago. Played with him growing up, was always very underrated. He is currently just signed to an amateur tryout agreement. He has two points in five games with Abby.

    • piscera.infada

      I’m not sure if you’re referring to the same dude. But I know there was a big hub-bub about Danny DeKeyser around the trade deadline.

      He signed in Detroit.

  • everton fc

    Some hope; I am beginning to think positive about our Flames. Even though I still would prefer we move Feaster & Wesibrod.

    I’ve decided to look at the future as potentially sunny. I like what I’ve heard about Bill Arnold. Perhaps he can be like Prust, Dorsett or Clifford for us? Ditto Bouma. We need players like this – not McGrattan’s, and not even Jackman’s (Jackman’s a game fighter, but never seems to win).

    Seigo’s not real “thick” of body for a 22 year old. And I’m still hoping Ferland becomes something.

    Hope we can draft Eric Roy out of Brandon. He’d be a good prospect. Good kid, from what little I’ve read.

    What’s Gaudreau’s brother’s story? He’s listed at 5’7″ 130 lbs with Omaha in the USHL. Certainly isn’t the offencive dynamo his older brother is….

  • everton fc

    Just watched the highlight reel. He seems to easily find open ice. He moves without the puck. His stickhandling is superb, as his his passing. Seems to be a good playmaker, with the ability to bury it when the opportunities arise.

    Likes to go top draw. Seems like a really grounded, decent kid, with good family as a foundation.

    Here’s hopin’!

  • beloch

    Here’s a question:

    What do the Flames (or other teams) do for/with NCAA prospects? Obviously they call them on the phone now and then and invite them out to the annual training camp. Is there any deeper involvement with somebody like Gaudreau? e.g. Would they (or are they even allowed to) hire him a personal trainer over the summer, etc.?
    I’m just curious if NCAA prospects on the other side of the continent are developing a relationship with the flames org or if they’re treated hands-off and left to develop.

    • I think if they hire anyone or provide any kind of service for free it constitutes a “benefit” for the student athlete that is verboten.

      Hockey is a little different though because in the other major sports you waive your eligibility by signing with an agent. You can be drafted and not sign with a team (in basketball) but you can’t have an agent. Obviously hockey players have agents very early on so there must be some kind of different treatment there.

      • Truculence

        Hockey players, football players, and basketball players do not have agents when they are in the NCAA. They have family advisors that do not get paid very much and are there to help explain to the family the potential business aspects that come around once their schooling is complete. Slightly different than an agent in terms of how their compensation is laid out.

        NCAA athletes are allowed to get nothing other than advise from the teams that drafted them. No payments for strength or conditioning, no equipment, clothes, cars, etc. They can suggest options for a conditioning program, and give them advise on areas to work on, but nothing that would have a monetary benefit.

  • Truculence

    Anyone who is concerned about Johnny hockey…and the fact he is not on an appropriate fitness regime in the NCAA needs to put that idea to bed. The NCAA schools are factories when it comes to strength training etc. He may even have better access to training at BC than Abbotsford.

    • Truculence

      Of course, but I’m talking about a detailed, structured program in the off season. But maybe he stays there through the summer and has access to a team trainer, i don’t know. Point is, if he leaves for the summer, he needs to be doing something other than banging out mindless reps. From what shutout says, even giving him a tailored program from Rich H. would constitute a monetary benefit. But they could point him towards an excellent free one on the web.