Flames Top 15 Prospects 2013: #3 John Gaudreau

John Gaudreau

Via Dubuque Fighting Saints

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For all of the crap we give Jay Feaster around here, it’s hard to be pessimistic about the 2011 4th rounder the Flames used on an undersized, soon-to-be college Junior. Most 4th rounders don’t even develop into something we could feasibly call an “NHL prospect”, but that’s exactly what Johnny Gaudreau has done – and then some.

Gaudreau has been tracking well for as long as we have had stats for him:

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2010-11 USHL 0.60 12.3 0.60 12.3 1.20 24.6
2011-12 NCAA  0.47 15.8 0.53 17.8 1.00 33.6
2012-13 NCAA 0.60 20.2 0.86 28.9 1.46 49.1

Obviously, that’s an extremely positive growth pattern. In just three seasons, Gaudreau has doubled his NHLE to almost 50. It’s probably unreasonable to expect his scoring curve will continue to rise at that pace, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an NHLE of 50+ for Gaudreau next year. Generally, guys who produce at that rate at that age are sure-fire NHLers.

Now, I say “generally” because sometimes things that are okay at lower levels don’t transfer to higher levels – and of course, I’m talking about Gaudreau’s size here. Now, I’ve been on record plenty of times saying size doesn’t matter if the player has enough skill. We know Johnny Hockey is crazy skilled – but there are still concerns about his ability to become a top-flight player. Otherwise, he’d be a bluechip kid.

Every site where I found his height and weight agrees: he’s, at best, 5’8 and about 150 pounds. But it’s not that he’s small – no, it’s about what I think might change when he puts that extra weight on. The 8 NHLers shorter than he is weigh an average of 24 pounds more than Gaudreau, so I’m going to assume he puts another 15 pounds on at the very least. Depending on where that strength is allocated, it can screw up his technical skating abilities, his agility, a whole mess of things. There’s always risk when changing one’s body.

  Justin Ryan Kent Hayley BoL
Gaudreau 4 3 3 3 3

I feel bad because Gaudreau is seemingly the only player I’ve ever had this problem with. Reconciling size with skill is generally one of my strongest opinions when looking to the quality of a player. Now, it’s not like I dropped him out of the top 5 or anything, and I don’t think it will be a big deal for him to deal with that extra muscle – but it might be, and that was enough for me.

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Right now, though, Gaudreau has high-end speed, agility and vision. Any time I’ve watched him over the past two years, I’ve come away impressed with how he played. Any line he was on, at best he appeared to be carrying the mail and at worst he was more than keeping pace. I still think him to be a good to very good NHLer, but we’ll have to see where his game is in a year or two once he’s adjusted to his NHL weight.

He completely dominated the World Junior Championships last year, scoring 7G and 2A in 7GP en route to a Gold Medal with the US team. Now, it’s called the tournament of small sample sizes for a reason – but it’s positive to see nonetheless. He’ll be too old for this year’s team, so he’ll play the full schedule for Boston College.

Otherwise, Gaudreau probably has the best resume of any Flames hopeful right now or in recent memory, for that matter. As a college sophomore he has already won a Rookie of the Year award, a Beanpot MVP award, the NCAA National Championship, a WJC Gold medal, the Hockey East player of the Year award and finished 2nd in the running for the Hobey Baker. Phew.


The best thing for the Flames and John going forward is to continue to let Gaudreau play and develop in the NCAA. In my opinion, he should probably stay all 4 years in the NCAA in order to get stronger and work out the kinks in his game (not to mention to get his education finished) and then have at least half a season in the AHL to acclimate to the pro game. He’ll be a 22-year old NHLer.

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Flames Top 15 Prospects 

  • Burnward

    I wonder how crazy his numbers would have been if he played in the CHL.

    Really excited to watch him develop.

    I started calling him Lil’ G at the World Juniors. He’s tiny and he reminded me of Claude Giroux with the puck.

  • Burnward

    The reason I have above average hope for him as a small guy is that he doesn’t rely on speed to excel. It’s his hockey sense and skills that allow him to take over the game.

    That’s something that should translate at a higher level easier than simply being faster than everyone else on the ice.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Some guys have talent that just outpace equivalencies. Gaudreau comes into different leagues and produces right away, in new surroundings. He doesn’t need the excuses of adjusting. That is rare IMO.

    For any player to do that is impressive, now examine his stature.

    I agree to not rush him. As documented here, the pro game is the ultimate test. Let him develop so he is truly in a position to succeed once he turns pro.

  • everton fc

    Perhaps Gaudreau becomes a smallish superstar. He’s certainly a better prospect than someone like Byron ever was…

    He may peak as a #3 winger. If he can get to 180 lbs, he’d be the same size (basically) as Scotty Nicol. But that’s 30 pounds. A lot to ask…

    I agree with changing a body-type too much may produce a radically different, potentially negative set of results. He’ll need to add some muscle, and will. If he’s complimented on a line with 2 very physical players – big guys who will protect him (a Tom Wilson type prospect, and/or a seasoned NHL vet who can back it up with the gloves off) he’d get necessary room to show off his skills, me thinks… It’s really the best strategy for a kid like this, long term. Is it not?? Makes a Ryan Hartman pick make more sense, thogh Hartman’s not that big…

    He’s a 4th round pick. If he even makes it as an everyday NHL player, it’s a coup. A win for the organization. One of Feaster better moves…

    He was a much better “punt” than Jankowski, in my opinion. I think this is now obvious…

    Hard not to get hopes high for Gaudreau. They breed them tough in New Jersey, where he’s from. Anyone have any idea how he handles the physical play, in the NCAA??

  • Parallex

    “Depending on where that strength is allocated, it can screw up his technical skating abilities, his agility, a whole mess of things”

    See now that’s not all that concerning to me… I assume that they’ll be personal trainers that will tell him what and how to work out to add muscle in the right places… my concern is more about whether he’ll gain the muscle at all. I’ve seen several interviews with him over several years and in both cases there were words to this effect…

    Favorite Food?: Junk Food
    Least Favorite Food?: Vegitables.

    … Call me crazy but I prefer my pro-athletes to have a superior diet and nutricianal habits, it kind of worries me that he doesn’t have them. But then maybe I’m making something out of nothing… really want Johnny Hockey to make it. We’re due a fourth round Superstar… c’mon hockey gods let us have this one if you can give Detroit Datsyuk and Zetterberg you can give us Johnny Gaudreau.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Lots of kids are like that, but I agree, it has to change. What’s the last Sutter doing? That’s his job.

      As for his body type changing his style, the focus just has to be on pure strength building and body building. World of difference. With the right trainer he can add significant strength without bulk, including in his legs.

  • piscera.infada

    Agree with Roatis that Cammaratta has the same sort of offensive totals in the USHL with a similar body type and I would love to see the Flames take another swing and draft him this weekend.

    My only downside to Gaudreau is that I get a strong vibe from him that he might want to play on the US east coast and that he will tell the Flames that he is not signing next April. Nothing to really substantiate, but that is the feeling that I have. Have the same feelings about Agostino as well.

    Seems to have a great deal of talent, but we will really need to get a good read on his “character” to see if he will be able to handle the NHL. As we saw in the Bruins/Penguins series that size, physicality, and intimidate can still help you win in the new NHL. I think that with the right linemates opening up ice, running interference, and playing protector that there should be no reason for Gaudrea’s hockey skills, and hockey sense will make him an effective top six player.

    • SmellOfVictory

      The Penguins are just as physical as the Bruins and both teams are average sized. The “Big Bad Bruins” are a myth, as I have said many, many times. They don’t win because they play a certain way. They win because they’re very, very good.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I don’t get that vibe with Johnny at all, he has expressed many times how grateful he is to the flames for taking a chance on him and cant believe the support the organization has showed him.

      Agostino on the other hand….

      I cant seem to get a read on this kid, I haven’t found allot of interviews from him outside of his first can on the fan 960, I wonder how he feels about being traded from a contender like Pittsburgh where he could see a championship is his future to a rebuilding team like the flames?

      • piscera.infada

        I think with any of these kids its all about opportunity – which the Flames will likely have oodles to offer going forward. Thus, they’d have to be stupid to think a team like the Penguins is a more reasonable place for them.

        With regard to Agostino – everything I’ve heard indicates he’s a stand-up, character guy. I also don’t think he’s shown enough (certainly not as much as the Gaudreau’s of the world) to garner enough interest on the open market, especially once the league gets the impression he’s a complete tool.