A look at the start of Johnny Gaudreau’s season



(Ryan attended Boston College’s most recent game. Here are his thoughts on the play of BIll Arnold, John Gaudreau and BC in general)

It didn’t take Johnny Gaudreau long to make an impact in his first home game of the year. Just 2:03 into the contest against RPI he carried the puck into the attacking zone, moved the puck through the legs of the first defender he encountered then chipped it over the stick of the next, finding linemate Kevin Hayes, who shed a defender of his own and deked around Jason Kasdorf to put BC up 1-0 (see .gif above).

Such is the power of Gaudreau, the prohibitive favorite for the Hobey Baker award (presented to college hockey’s most outstanding player). He also had an assist in BC’s first game, setting up the only goal his team scored in a strange 3-1 loss to Michigan three days earlier.

BC was in fact off to a rather strange start altogether. That BC goal Gaudreau set up was the Eagles’ second of the game and also wound up its last of the period. Outshot 13-2 in the first 20, the score was nonetheless tied 1-1. Then Gaudreau flat-out took over the game. He drew a penalty on a partial break that led to a power play goal he himself scored. On BC’s first five shots, Gaudreau either made the pass that set it up or took the shot himself on four of them (fellow Flames prospect Billy Arnold Picked up a secondary assist by winning the draw). BC scored again on the next shift, 13 seconds later. The game was well and truly in hand despite the Eagles having been outshot by a factor of 3:1.

The game completely turned on its ear, the Eagles went on to win 7-2 in a game that, based on the scoreline, you would never have thought was ever in doubt. Let alone that the Eagles had essentially had their asses handed to them for the first half of the game against a good but notably inferior opponent.

This is, one suspects, the kind of thing BC will actually have to face a lot this year. The Eagles have for more than a decade at this point been one of the three or four best teams in college hockey every single year, and anyone who figured they were going to run to a national title probably wouldn’t have been all that far off. But those days, perhaps, are over. At least for the time being. The Eagles are relying heavily on young and even first-year players on defense — they are, make no mistake, of high quality but they’re also exceedingly young and perhaps not long for the college hockey ranks at all — and in net, where they’re playing a kid who, while being perhaps one of the best American-born goaltending prospects in the past few years, won’t turn 18 until early December. This is not necessarily the best way to succeed in college hockey, but you make do with what you have.

That’s why Gaudreau and Arnold will be so very important for the Eagles this year: They’re going to have these kinds of games, especially early in the season, and they’re going to need veteran leaders to bail them out. Everything for the Eagles, essentially, is going run through those two. Gaudreau kills penalties a little bit but not a ton, and thus Arnold, a consummate two-way center, will have to carry a big load there. The percentage of the Eagles offense that will go through their diminutive third-year production giant is likely to be extraordinarily high; already he has points on four of BC’s eight goals, just a year after figuring into the scoring on 51 of 128.

A thing to remember about Gaudreau, and how revelatory he’s been pretty much since he arrived on campus, is that a good and completely respectable four-year college career typically results in a forward scoring 100 points. Gaudreau currently sits on 99 two games into his third season (81 games total), and looks a likely candidate to get to as many as 150 or even 160 by the time the year is over. That’s 99 in 81 games for Gaudreau, compared with Arnold, who’s been very good as well, and has 94 in 121 games.

To give you an idea of the kind of quality we’re talking about here, Columbus’s Cam Atkinson, who had 124 career points in 117 games three years at BC in more or less the same role, had far better talent around him. The Rangers’ Chris Kreider had 92 points over 114 games. Chicago’s Jimmy Hayes finished his three-year college career with just 81 points in 117.

The difference between any of those three players, as far as I’m concerned (as a person who saw them all play dozens of times in their college careers), is that they don’t have what Gaudreau has in terms of their abilities to immediately turn games around. They are more in line with Arnold: Very, very good college players, perhaps even great ones, who fit very well into systems and excelled at piling on the misery for teams simply because they were so much better than everyone else.

I’m not sure any but Gaudreau was a real threat to turn an entire game around with one shift, one move, one second of acceleration through a defense. Whether it translates to the pro game — and this was the subject of some debate in the press box over the weekend — is obviously something we can only wait to find out, because Gaudreau still has shows upon shows to put on before his college career is finished.

However, given the way things have started this year, I can’t imagine he’ll be playing amateur hockey all that much longer.

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  • McRib

    “in net, where they’re playing a kid who, while being perhaps one of the best American-born goaltending prospects in the past few years, won’t turn 18 until early December. This is not necessarily the best way to succeed in college hockey, but you make do with what you have.”

    Thatcher Demko has to be the most overrated goaltending prospect in years (cough cough since Rick DiPietro). The American media have just gone way too far hyping this kid. All of the private publications (ISS, Red Line, etc) have Demko as a 2/3 rounder. Yet everyone in the USA media talks of this kid like he is a surefire Top. 15….

    No one was even talking about Jon Gillies his draft year and he had a 2.08 GAA/.931% in the USHL. Thather Demko’s numbers at the same age (except late birthday) on a much better team (USNTDP) were inferior 2.21 GAA/.902%.

    I totally can see some horribly bad drafting GM like Paul Holmgren or Mike Gillis that needs a goalie ending up getting absolutely burned with this kid after taking him as a first or shall we say they will get Mike Milbured. I have talked to people who have seen him and they all say if he wasn’t a late birthday he would have been lucky to be the fourth or fifth goalie taken last year in that deep crop (Fucale, Jarry, Comrie, Desrosiers, Martin). Why you don’t take goalies as first’s because people tend to loose their minds on a decent goalie within years that have mediocre numbers across the board. While in deep classes like last year guys like Austin Lotz get completely passed over.

  • Parallex

    “— and this was the subject of some debate in the press box over the weekend —”

    Hey now… don’t be a tease. What was being said and how many were saying it?

  • piscera.infada

    “…they don’t have what Gaudreau has in terms of their abilities to immediately turn games around.

    Perhaps I’m just being overly optimistic, but regardless of his stature I think this is the crux of why he works out in the show. Players that have that innate ability to change a game are rare precisely because they find a way to translate that success to a variety of challenges, not just when they’re given the opportunity.

  • Parallex

    I just hope someone walks into Feaster’s and Burke’s offices and tacks a picture of Martin St. Louis from 99-00 to the wall with the caption “What might have been…”.

  • RedMan

    with this kind of talent on the near horizon, can the Flames manage to get a high draft pick without developing type of acceptance to losing Edmonton has, and be poised to start putting an all new team on the ice next year?

    Exciting times – even with a few losses.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Way off topic here, but I was just looking at CapGeek and I think its best we try and re-sign Cammi at a reduced rate for at least another year. Assuming he buys into what Hartley is preaching like the rest of the team so far.

    If you look at the far right column “AAV Deadline” of all the teams, there aren’t many that can add 6 mill of salary even at the deadline. There are so many teams at the cap right now. NYR might could be the only team I see doing it.

    I’m also super in favour of resigning Stempniak and wouldn’t even be opposed to Stajan. Doesn’t hurt to let the young guys ripen on the vine a bit and help shelter them once they do get to the show.

    • Parallex

      “aren’t many that can add 6 mill of salary even at the deadline.”

      Teams can retain salary/cap in trades now. If need absolutely be the Flames can directly eat $ on the trade to make it work.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Oh I’m aware of that, it’s just we haven’t seen many teams do this yet and it doesn’t seem Flames ownership is fond of the idea, given they didn’t do it on the Bouwmeester trade to up the value.

        I get your point though, if there is no other option at the deadline, they will likely have to eat some salary.

  • If Glencross keeps up this half-assed attitude going forward and fails to improve his shooting % I think it would be smart to package him and Cammy for picks and or prospects. Like Parallex said we could retain say 1/2 of Cammy’s remaining cap hit to alleviate the stress on the opposite teams cap.