Folks, if there’s one question I get asked the most in my travels nowadays – even moreso than “How majestic is Brian Burke’s hair in-person?” or “Why aren’t there more than two Pocket Dog stands in the ‘Dome?” – is “When is Johnny Gaudreau going to sign?”
Thankfully, that question is replacing the panicked statement, usually involving a fan clutching my arm or shoulders, “He’s going to sign, right?” After Al Morganti’s recent reassurances that Gaudreau will most likely sign here, barring war or insurrection, the next question is timing.
The short answer is this – he’ll sign when his college season is done, most likely.
The long answer is a bit more complex.
Johnny Gaudreau plays for Boston College, and Boston College is a really good team. They’re first in their conference, Hockey East. They already have a bye into the quarterfinals of their conference playoffs, which means they get next week off while the Merrimacks and Boston Universities of the world have to play their way in.
If Boston College somehow gets beaten in their quarterfinal match-up – and they’ll be playing the weakest remaining seed after the play-in games – their season is most likely not over. As of this week, they’re ranked #1 in the country by both USCHO.com and USA Today. [For the curious, Providence College is #12 on both, Yale is #15 & #14 and Colgate is #16 & #15.] That means that when it comes time for at-large bids for the Frozen Four, there’s almost no way Boston College isn’t getting one. So Gaudreau will almost assuredly get his crack at another NCAA Title before he finishes school. (There’s an outside shot that Providence College gets a trip to the big dance without a conference title, too.)
The Frozen Four regional games take place March 28-30. The four regional winners move on to Philadelphia – across the river from where Gaudreau grew up in New Jersey – for the national semis and finals on April 10 and 12.
If Boston College exits in the regionals, I’d imagine the Flames would try to ink him, and he’d join the team on the road – most likely in early April, as the team would give him time to grab some stuff to take with him. You can probably target April 1 in Toronto or the April 3/4 trip to Tampa Bay or Florida as the earliest he could wear a Flames jersey.
If Boston College makes it to Philadelphia, give up hope on Gaudreau wearing a Flames jersey this season, as Calgary’s regular season ends on April 13 in Vancouver. He would, however, possibly play in Abbotsford for the playoffs. The Heat finish off their regular season on April 19 in Texas, and should they make the playoffs – and the odds are good of that – they’d open up the following weekend.
Barring an epic Boston College collapse, Johnny Gaudreau will not make his Calgary Flames debut this season. There is, however, a fairly decent chance that he’ll play with the Abbotsford Heat at some point in the near future.