The 2014 Flames Fifteen – #2 Johnny Gaudreau

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Few Calgary prospects have had an amateur career comparable to Johnny Gaudreau. National champion, gold medalist, tournament MVP, league MVP and multiple all-star, Gaudreau can count himself amongst the very few hockey players who has had several t-shirts made of them before ever stepping on the ice as a pro. He’s a sublime talent and probably the most exciting player in the Flames system.

The only reason Gaudreau isn’t #1 on this list is the same thing that has no doubt dogged him throughout his career: his small stature.

Gaudreau was the smallest player ever drafted by the Flames when they called his name in the 4th round back in 2011. If he makes the NHL full time next year, he’ll probably be its most diminutive skater. At approximately 5’7″, 155 pounds, the 21-year old left winger is an unimposing figure. In many ways hockey is still a big mans game, so until Gaudreau can translate his success in the show, the question of his size will remain.

Player Justin Kent Ryan BOL Byron Taylor Christian
John Gaudreau 1 2 1 3 1 2 2

That’s the only knock against the kid. Otherwise, he’s an outstanding prospect. He lead Hockey East in every major offensive category you can think of this season: points (80), goals (36), assists (44), powerplay goals (10) and shots on goal (159). His incredible plus/minus rating of +42 was second only to linemate and fellow Calgary prospect Bill Arnold (+43).

Gaudreau didn’t merely lead his division in scoring. He completely destroyed it. His 80 points were 15 more than second place Kevin Hayes, who was also a Gaudreau linemate. The closest non-Eagle point getter in Hockey East was Kevin Goumas of New Hampshire with 53 points. The closest scoring junior (ie; the closest scoring guy of the same age) managed 39 points – less than half of Johnny’s results. On top of all that, Gaudreau tied Paul Kariya’s record single season point streak of 31 consecutive games. His 80-points were the most the league has seen since 2003.

This was a total runaway folks.

Of course, Gaudreau’s year didn’t end there. The kid was invited to play for the American team at the World Championships this spring, were this stuff happened:

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Gaudreau was a human highlight reel against a better caliber of competition in the IIHF tournament. He also tied for the team lead in points with 9 (and he could have had a dozen more with a few more bounces). In a series of contests against older, bigger, stronger opponents, Gaudreau again proved himself to be one of the best players on the ice.

Conclusion

Hands, agility, speed, vision, creativity, a laser accurate shot – aside from height and weight, Gaudreau has it all. He thinks the game at a different level and can execute circus-like plays at high speed. He’s already pro-level or better in many ways.

Gaudreau didn’t look terribly out of place during his single game Flames debut at the end of the season, but the organization may choose to start him in the AHL anyways because of the size thing.

Of course, if Gaudreau picks apart the American Hockey League like he has every other level of hockey he has ever played at, the Flames won’t have much choice but to call him up and give him a chance to answer the lone, lingering question about his hockey career that remains.

PS – You can vote for Gaudreau as best male college athlete of the year here.

  • MonsterPod

    Ok so when I posted a few days ago that we should go after Nikitin I didnt think it would take 4.5 per to sign the guy…. or is that what it takes to get any average UFA to sign in the chuk….?

  • RedMan

    Gaborik got how much for how long????!

    I don’t like our chances of signing Cammalleri to a decent contract if that is the standard for an injury prone 32 year old winger……..

    WW

    • DragonFlame

      Gaborik’s career PPG higher than Cammi’s despite Gaborik playing much of his career for what many would deem to be one of the most boring teams of all time (Minnesota Wild), back in the Jacques Lemaire left wing lock days.

      Gaborik has a Cup (finally) and led all players this year with 14 goals in the playoffs (4 more than the next highest player).

      I would like to see Cammalleri re-sign with the Flames, but there is really not much out there for UFA’s this year, so it is hard to blame Cammi for testing the water. If a team wants to overpay to acquire his services, well . . . that’s what free agency and the cap world that makes up the NHL is all about.

      Gaborik didn’t sign for a king’s ransom, really. He took term over a big buck’s pay day. The Kings locked him up as the penalty for signing a player to a long-term contract is no longer enforced . . . meaning if Gabby retires three years from now, the Kings are not on the hook for the remaining years and are free to look elsewhere.

      For all we know, this could be a nudge nudge/wink wink agreement between the LA Kings and Gaborik.

    • beloch

      This sentiment is a tiny bit more credible than Bob Cob’s, but not well founded.

      First of all, Baertschi averaged 0.5 ppg in his first NHL season, which is pretty spiffy for a 19-year old. He fell to 0.42 ppg last season, which is still very good in light of his struggles, but his defensive game was not yet there. This is normal for younger kids. Yes, the Yak might improve that aspect of his game too (and he’d better!). Baertschi is still on track to be very, very good.

      Baertschi had a NHLE of 49.2 two seasons ago based on his last full season in the WHL (NHLE conversion ratio of 0.3). Gaudraeu has a NHLE of 67.2 based on his last full season in the NCAA (NHLE conversion of 0.41). If you look at the average age/height/weight of players, the WHL is clearly a junior league while the NCAA is almost identical in composition to the AHL. It was a much bigger leap for Baertschi to translate his WHL success to the NHL than it will be for Gaudreau to transition from the NCAA to the NHL. Also, Gaudreau has been tested (and found to be awesome) against Men’s, not junior, world cup hockey competition. Finally, if the World Cup is any indication, Gaudreau is a puck-stealing possession machine.

      In short, Gaudreau has a significantly higher NHLE than Baertschi ever did and it’s based on play in a league that is much closer in difficulty to the NHL than Baertschi’s junior NHLE was.

  • supra steve

    The Fleury comparisons are fascinating. It is debatable whether or not the Gaudfather has “more skill” than Theo, and for me the point is moot. The thing with Fleury was his unmatched drive and determination. He played like a man possessed (sadly this was true) and he scared the living bejeezus out of thugs twice his size with his notorious stick work. Obviously, J.G. must have a lot of tenacity to have made it this far, but he seems like more of a Lady Byng, St. Louis type player. There is nothing wrong with that, but Fleury was just as slick while playing with a nasty edge.

  • beloch

    Re: Comparing Gaudreau to Fleury

    I’m sorry, but I’m not going to do this. Fleury was a very special player. Many have speculated about what he might have accomplished without the personal demons he faced but, who knows, perhaps Fleury was great because he ran on pure, distilled, liquid rage!

    Gaudreau is very promising, but to compare him to one of the finest Flames ever to play the game before he’s played his second NHL game… It’s unfair to him. Gaudreau is not the second coming of Fleury. He’s Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau. We don’t know what that means yet, but the kid deserves a chance to define that himself.

    • TheoForever

      That’s not at beloch, can’t remove the name now.

      To all those that believe Flames never had anyone as talented as Johnny hockey, you guys either have short memory or were too young to see them. Nilsson, Makarov, MacDonald, Gilmour, St.Louis, Mullen, Hull, Housley, Fleury, Loob, Savard, Iginla, MacInnis.
      That list could be extended to include: Suter, Nieuwendyk, Roberts, Nylander, Hrdina and a couple more.

        • TheoForever

          Housley is in US Hockey Hall of Fame with 1288 pts. Wayne Gretzky called Nilsson the most talented player he has ever seen. Makarov was top Russian player for long time. So many great players played for the Flames. 🙂

  • Big Ell

    I wonder if Gaudreau can be a player who can switch over to the right wing. Watching some of his highlights and a lot of his goals seem to be coming from the RW position. If he could make that transition, we would be pretty deep on both sides of center. On another note, its very strange how few right handed shooters we have on the Flames and our prospect pipeline.

  • EugeneV

    In the early 80’s I HATED the Oilers so much that when Sather picked Randy Gregg and Charlie Huddy for Canada in the 1984 Canada Cup, I was a traitor and cheered for the Russians to win as Makarov was my favorite player.

    That’s right I hated the Oilers so much that I cheered for Russia against Canada. BEFORE the wall came down.

  • Brent G.

    I wouldn’t be too worried about the trolls guys. It is the product of their insecurities and jealousy as they line up to watch yakupov, Schultz, Nuge etc. and know they are bound to be terrible for a very long time when those players are the key to their success. They are all good talented players who were handed the reigns too early and have now adapted to a strong losing environment. I live in Edmonton and love the arbitrary reasons they will be a contender next year (just like every other year).

    They see the Flames quite quickly being put back together (by Burke no less) and feel the need to discredit our key prospects because, well, what else can they do? If the Flames don’t screw up this draft and are as bad as we all suspect they will be next year, they will have a shot at some legit generational talent; we will then be back on our way to respectability and better with a small efficient rebuild.

    Poor poor Edmontonians. Always a bridesmaid never a bride….

    Bold prediction, Calgary and Vancouver will both get it together long before Edmonton will even contemplate getting out of the top 5 of the draft. Lowe will make some point at a presser about how they are only technically on year 2 of the rebuild and the Asian and Ukrainian Oiler fans are second class by their standards because [fill in the blank].

  • Depending on what Edmonton does in Free Agency, they could be SLIGHTLY improved next season. They’ve addressed their goaltending issues, so at least they have that figured out for next year.

    Their timing couldn’t be worse as I don’t think they will finish low enough to draft one of the top players in the 2015 draft.

  • Captain Ron

    I haven’t been this excited to watch a player in his first season since Teemu was a rookie in Wpg. Make no mistake I think Johnny is going to be an impact player PDQ. Our power play should be greatly improved with him on it.

    Small size my arse. This man can play.