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.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Maybe its just me. But Gaudreau did not look undersized at the Worlds in the slightest. In fact besides the dingle dangles, he didnt look out of place at all.

  • Bob Cobb

    OVER – Wait for it – RATED!!! Sven was supposed to be good too.

    Calgary = where prospects come to die!

    Oh and those highlights, anyone could score on Germany in international play, that’s like scoring on Canada’s men’s team in soccer.

    If he was really good, he’d of been ranked higher in his draft year.

    Patrick Kane special?….Alcoholism is no joke! Get help son!

    You guys are all delusional, oh well, beats hearing about “Intellectual honesty”, two words by the way that should never be associated with the Flames or there fanbase.

    • supra steve

      I hope Yakupov and J Schultz work out for you, I really do.

      Talk about over-rating prospects. But then again, I guess that’s the only way you can build hope in a perpetual rebuild

      Thanks for coming friend

      • beloch

        I also cheer for the Oilers (whenever they’re not playing the Flames and always with copious amounts of hard liquor on hand). The Oilers have drafted some good players in the last few years (Yes, the Yak is good and still very young). However, with three #1 overall picks in a row and only one pick out of the top ten in the last seven years, the expectation should be that you could point to at least one clearly elite guy by now. Hall is probably the closest, but his defensive game is really off and on and his compete level is questionable a lot of nights. The Oilers also haven’t had much success with their later round picks lately. Few, if any, of their prospects/rookies have really outperformed their draft position for a very long time.

        This, I feel, is a major reason why Gaudreau is going to make Oiler fans a little bit punchy next season. How would you guys feel if Edmonton brought a 20-year-old 4th round pick into the NHL next season and he outperformed Monahan? Well, the probability is rather high that Gaudraeu (picked #104 overall) is going to blow the pants of Yakupov (picked #1 overall) and Gagner (picked #6 overall) combined next season (Johnny’s NHLE is higher than the combined point totals of Gagner and Yakupov) while simultaneously not absolutely sucking at possession.

        Now, look to the Flames blueline. Guess who was drafted #114 overall? Thomas James freakin’ Brodie. Oiler fans can only hope Nurse (drafted #7 overall) turns out that good! He might… Here’s hoping! Still, Brodie blows the pants off of any defender currently wearing the copper and blue, and he was a fourth rounder. Oh, and Giordano was undrafted.

        The Oilers and Flames are both sitting in a freakin’ deep pit with just a tiny crack of sunshine filtering down from above through the claws and stingers of some pretty nasty Western conference competition. To climb out of that pit and into the playoffs, both teams need to do more than just get good, solid players with their first round picks. Both teams need to flush talent out from where it has absolutely no buisness hiding. Whether it’s skill or luck at the draft, the Flames have been doing just that. The oilers haven’t. Brodie is already a symbol of that, and Gaudreau will be another soon enough.

  • Burnward

    If he was a first round pick everyone would be talking about him.

    They’re going to find out quick that this kid is very special.

    I believe Pat Kane special.

  • beloch

    Re: The AHL

    Time in the AHL isn’t going to change Gaudreau’s size. It also doesn’t make sense to start a kid with a NHLE over sixty on the farm. He’s got a spot on the big team that’s his to keep or lose. My money is on Gaudreau being the Flames top winger next season, both in scoring and possession. He was as notable in the world cup for stealing pucks and controlling play as he was for scoring.

    • McRib

      Exactly. The AHL is to either develop your hockey game, gain emotional maturity or grow into your frame while learning to play against men.

      JG shoud work on his strength (while not adding much size), but it’s not like he’s waiting to put on another 50lbs or something.

      Maturity level? Check.

      As for his game, that won’t grow in the AHL IMO, it’s already ready to be tested at the NHL level.

      Sure, there’s the chance he stinks in camp or gets hammered in pre-season or to start the regular season and gets sent down, but I just don’t see it.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      “He was as notable in the world cup for stealing pucks and controlling play as he was for scoring.”

      If you haven’t watched the below highlights you will see ample evidence of what beloch states.

      His tenacity on the backcheck is impressive. To me that’s what I call defense – your ability to turn pucks over NOT shadow guys. Strip the puck or separate man from puck –

      I know this is about JG and I don’t mean to harp on Sven but THIS is what I think Flames’ braintrust want to see out of Sven or any smallish forward, if they want to fit into the long term plans – tenacity in takeaways/backchecking.

      Gallagher is the example Hartley gave for Sven and when you watch JG (forget about the mind blowing puck skills and offense for a microsecond) he gets on the puck or inside guys’ kitchens instantly and then gone in another instant. Hartley will love this kid.

      Just watch the play at 2:40 where he steals the puck (the movement!?!)

      Oh boy Johnny Gaudreau. Johnny Gaudreau.

      Now after that the talk of his skating, hockey sense and offense can be appreciated even more.

      All this talk about his size…Johnny is nothing short of amazing!!!

      I strongly believe in him. He will not be denied and all sentences with Calgary will begin and end with Johnny Gaudreau, oh Johnny Gaudreau! WTF did I just see Johnny Gaudreau?!!???!!

      There will be a lot of people with neck strains at the dome (new arena) from all the jumbotron replay watching.

      Get the beef Burke – like the secret service.

    • McRib

      This… a hundred times THIS!

      in terms of NHLE the conversion value of the NCAA and the AHL is almost identical:

      NCAA: 0.41
      AHL: 0.44

      As you said, he’s not gonna learn to be a bigger player, so put him in the show and work with him there. I liked what Cammo said at the end of the season about Gaudreau. He basically said that Johnny doesn’t necessarily need to get stronger or bigger to take the next step, he needs to play his game. That’s just it. Let Johnny be Johnny.

      He’ll take his lumps like any rookie does but another year playing against a competition level that he has already proven he can shred offensively does NOTHING for his development. He’s an NHL player. He needs to play against NHLers.

    • Parallex

      I agree… the AHL has tons of big boys and chuckleheads… he’ll find no protection or shelter from physical play in the A. I dont think it will help him develop further either.

      Straight to the show Johnny… straight to the show…

  • McRib

    Wow I’m excited for Gaudreau. I’m sure he’ll spend some time in the AHL, but my guess is he will absolutely tear that up. As an NHLer, I feel like 30 points isn’t an unreasonable expectation.

    I wouldn’t be blown out of the water if we did a 4-6 swap with the Canucks, but I would prefer another late round pick thrown in to sweeten the pot. I heard it was #6 and Shinkaruk (not Horvat) And I never bears Tanev included either. I don’t feel like Vancouver would be willing to give up that much. I want to know what the going price on the Isles’ #5 is! Could you imagine…, #4 and #5. Give up two second rounders, and Glencross/Hudler plus rights to Cammy? I don’t know…

  • FeyWest

    Heheh I was going to message you Kent to try and get Johnny voted up for the ESPY’s but seems like you were “on the puck” per se!

    I’ve been trying to get every hockey related outlet I know aware of the voting, to get him the recognition he deserves. It’s ESPN so football is gonna be the one to beat.

    Go Johnny Go!!!

  • McRib

    Yes, he’s great!

    Off topic: if the Canuck rumour is true that they offered #6, Tanev and Horvat or Shinkurack to trade up to first overall; presumably so they can pick local boy Reinhart.

    If Reinhart falls to us at number 4 ( like Button has him), would they offer us the same deal?

    Would we take it? (Horvat would be my choice).

    WW

    • FeyWest

      I’d rather just keep the pick and draft Reinhart. Horvat isn’t worth it.

      I’m still waiting for Garth Snow to offer all his picks to move up two spots. He’s done it before.

      • supra steve

        Horvat went 9th overall in 2013 (a strong draft year); if he was offered to the Flames with the #6 pick on Friday, for Calgary’s #4–then I think the Flames would make that deal. Actually I don’t think Treliving would even have to think about it, just do the deal.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          I disagree. The drop off from 4th to 6th is too significant, especially if the player sitting there at 4th is Sam Reinhart. I’d take Reinhart over Horvat and Virtanen. Wouldn’t you?

          Just because Horvat went 9th overall doesn’t mean he should have. Let’s be honest here, he barely outscored Morgan Klimchuk last season. How good is he, really?

          • supra steve

            In the Hockey News Future Watch edition this year, they had Horvat as the 12th best (drafted) prospect not in the NHL. He was one spot below Griffin Reinhart. The list of names above him on that list is quite impressive, as are a lot of the names below him (Lazar, Domi, Pouliot, Nurse, Gaudreau, Dumba, etc.).

            Is it possible that the Flames would come to regret such a trade?—Sure. But it is also QUITE possible that such a move would be a big win for the franchise. I would definitely run it by my assistant and my Pres of Hockey Ops if I were GM, and I would recommend pulling the trigger on that deal.

            However, I don’t believe that that offer is on the table.

          • MonsterPod

            I disagree with them, but there were those on the radio who said we should have taken Horvat at 6 instead of Monahan. Time will tell how these kids evolve but I highly doubt Horvat is in play in Vancouver. Shinkaruk maybe.

            And for God’s sake, we should not trade down in the draft. No no no no no. I would argue we shouldn’t even try to move up, not if it would cost us #34 which could be really interesting.

        • DragonFlame

          I agree. However as this is a player specific deal (Reinhart) chances are we likely won’t be offered the deal.

          Hopefully this does not deter the Flames from continuing to secure a trade for second 1st rounder.

          On that note does anyone know the protocol the NHL follows to announce trades. Can teams submit a trade, have it confirmed, but delay the announcement until a specific time later.

          For example, could the Flames trade for the #5 pick from NYI (Hudler, Agostino, #34 pick) AND DET #15 pick (Glencross, Knight, #54 pick), have these picks confirmed but not have them be announced until it’s time for the #5 and #15 selections?

          Am thinking once a price is set it will impact other trades so there may be strategic reasons for wanting to get trades confirmed but keep them quiet. Anyone know for sure if this can be done?

          BTW …just floating the actual trades for fun..but wouldn’t it be great to get Bennett/Draisaitl, Richie/Virtanen, and Sanheim?

          • gotommygo

            ‘On that note does anyone know the protocol the NHL follows to announce trades. Can teams submit a trade, have it confirmed, but delay the announcement until a specific time later.’

            I don’t think it has to be announced until the actual selection takes place. These trades are often conditional upon a certain player still being available for selection, otherwise, no deal.

    • Parallex

      If they offered us that deal (provided it was Horvat and not Shinkurak) I think I would say yes. That being said I don’t think they would offer that to us. I think the optics would be bad for them and they probably (like everyone else) want to avoid trading within the division.

      On Gaudreau: What everyone else said. Guy is just a wizard out there. I’d probably start him in the AHL for a variety of reasons (adjustment to pro-schedule, adjustment to life as a professional, adjustment to pro skill level of opponents, spot on the main roster to fill cap space and evaluate more tenured prospects at NHL level) but I think he’ll be bringing folk to their feet in the NHL for a long time and in relatively short order.

    • piscera.infada

      The only thing unlikeable about this entire article is that coincidently we are highlighting an Oiler in those Gifs as well!!!

      Who’s this Oiler? I only see Stapleton, Abdelkader, and Matt Donovan. Who am I missing?

      I’m wondering what the chances are of Gaudreau making the big club next season. While his skill could be an asset to the Flames next year, is it better to play it safe? If he is able to handle the rigours and physicality of pro hockey, then you can bring him up in the second half of the season. That way he also get’s to adjust alongside Bill Arnold, likely allowing both of them to ease into pro hockey.

      I’m excited either way for him, can’t wait! He’s going to be electric.

      • McRib

        “Who’s this Oiler? I only see Stapleton, Abdelkader, and Matt Donovan. Who am I missing?”

        Hahah, Deleted that post, but apparently it didn’t get past you! I mistakenly read the name of Justin “Abdelkader” in that grainy gif to read Mark “Arcobello”. I then realized my mistake, but the damage had already been done! That said I was going to transition my comment into a statement on how I thought Mark Arcobello was a decent find for the Shelbyville Oilers… Hopefully our Yale Grad has as much or more success adjusting to the pro ranks.

  • PerpetuallyPineapple

    I don’t recall ever really having someone with his skill set on the flames before, really excited to see how much he improves others on his line. The way he plays, creates space and makes insane passes he will make the players on his line so much better

      • Parallex

        Other than their similarity in size I actually don’t see any similarities in terms of the game Johnny plays and the game Theo played.

        IMO Theo was all about attack. He played almost a power forward’s game. He attack the play through traffic and towards the net. He was a little ball of hate. He was the Little Big Man and he had a recklessness in his style of play that Johnny Hockey just doesn’t.

        Gaudreau has more of an elusive and slippery game. His best attribute could actually be his size (which is the greatest knock against him). Watching him at the Wold’s and the handful of times I was able to catch a feed of a BC game you can see how he’s almost impossible to hit. He’s weaving through, under, and around guys. When he doesn’t outright evade a hit his speed and agility seem to limit and diminish any effectiveness the hit may have had.

        I think Johnny G is the best prospect that the flames have had in the system since Iggy. Trying not to let my expectations get too high but the kid has earned the lofty praise and the expectations that come along with them.

        • McRib

          I disagree, as I think Johnny Gaudreau is very underrated in space on the rush.

          Watch how Johnny Gaudreau hits the neutral zone with speed, then putting it into hyper drive to explode past opposing defenses at the blueline. Most of his highlight reel goals are on up-tempo plays, even if he creates a lot of offense down low off of High IQ plays he has the same type of quick attack Theo Fleury did.

          Undersized offensive forwards that are “slippery and elusive” in the CHL/NCAA are a dime-a-dozen. Johnny Gaudreau does a lot more than just “sneak past” opposing defenses, you don’t score 2.0 PPG (Kariya, St. Louis, Gaudreau) as a True Junior (21) by going “unnoticed”, he has also shown an outstanding ability to blow past people as well. I do agree, he doesn’t have Theo’s physicality and super pest mentality, but I think Gaudreau will likely be able to play an electric/high octane game as well in the NHL and that extra ability is what seperates him from everyone else.

          Watch this highlight reel package, almost every goal is scored off the rush: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iArX3s5EinY

      • PerpetuallyPineapple

        I would argue they are different types of players, J.G has more high end skill than Theo, more of a finesse player, where as Theo was more of a bulldog, gritty type.

        • McRib

          Theo Fleury scored 1088 Points in the NHL while battling substance abuse…. If he was clean and sober for the majority of his career he would have scored 1200+ points and been a first ballot Hall of Famer!!!

          I think Johnny Gaudreau has the chance to be great, but in no way am I prepared to say he is “more skilled” than one of the most talented small forwards to ever play the game, yet! I agree they play slightly different styles, but I think people are really underestimating Gaudreau’s abilities on the attack and he is going to need a lot more than just a “finesse” game if he thinks he’s going to score anywhere close to 1,000+ points in the NHL.

          • FeyWest

            Hey, you won’t get any argument from me over how great Theo was in his prime. I can never really decide between Iggy and Theo as my 2 favourite players ever. Not flames. Players. He should have been a sure fire first ballot hall of famer if not for the demons in his life.

            He also should have made the team out of training camp in 2009… but i digress…

            My point is mainly that the style of play is different. There was a nastiness to Theo’s game, a chip on the shoulder, that made him the player he was. I don’t see any of that in Johnny’s game. I see more of that in Cammy’s game than in Theo’s.

          • PerpetuallyPineapple

            Yes Theo scored 1088 points, we all know that, what we are debating is they types of players they both are, not what player will score more points. Do I think J.G can score 1000+ points in the NHL, I think its possible but that is a pretty tall order for anyone coming into the league. I stand by my initial comment that J.G is a highly skilled, finesse type player and that his skills are something the Flames have never really had before.

          • SmellOfVictory

            For a few years, yes. But they rapidly began to retire/leave/be traded. By 94/95 it was just a couple of remaining stars and a rapidly expanding cast of guys who weren’t so great.

          • jeremywilhelm

            Agreed! Peopl here seem to remember Theo’s heart and grit, but not his skill level. Different frame and style of game, but he was still 5’6″ and 160lbs. when he came into the NHL. Theo’s skill level was off the charts. He could play hockey like very few others and don’t forget, all during the Dead Puck Era of clutch-and-grab and breaking your stick over people’s heads for evenbeing near the crease.

          • McRib

            I know unfortunately people seem to remember the New York Rangers / Chicago Blackhawks “Theo”, rather than the Calgary Flames “Theo” who was scoring 80-100 points a year playing with a bunch of AHLers (“Young Guns”). Or the guy who finished tied with Joe Sakic for the WHL scoring crown (160 Points) during his final year in Junior. Unfortunately I think our owners have also forgotten the Calgary Flames “Theo” (only rational way of explaining why number 14 isn’t hanging in the rafters!).

            Listen all you youngens out there!!! There is a reason why current NHL stars like Jordan Eberle wear number 14!!!