How good is Johnny Gaudreau?

I was lucky enough to be in Minnesota in the summer of 2011, covering the NHL entry draft for the Nations. I was with now-retired contributor Robert Cleave somewhere deep in the Xcel Center concourse when Johnny Gaudreau was drafted by the Calgary Flames. We were looking for a power outlet to recharge our laptops and figured the important work had been done by the team already anyways.

Man were we wrong.

When his name was announced, I had to look it up just to make sure I was spelling it right. I had never heard of the kid before. If I wasn’t being paid to write about the weekend, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to look too closely, but I eventually ended up on Gaudreau’s HockeyDB page. 

I was surprised to find out the newest Flame was drafted out of the relatively obscure USHL in the States. And, what’s more, he was tiny, his profile reading 5’6″ and 137 pounds. 

In fact, it turns out Gaudreau is the smallest player to ever be drafted by the same organization that chose Theoren Fleury in the ninth round so long ago. His being taken at all was so apparently unlikely that Gaudreau didn’t even bother to attend the draft. Many players who will never skate a game in the NHL were in the building that day, but Gaudreau was home with his parents – even though he led his team in scoring by 12 points as a 17-year-old.

Johnny’s odd mix of small stature and big counting stats marked him as a player of interest for FlamesNation. And so we got to follow along from afar as Gaudreau’s status as a prospect grew ever larger, season after college season, even though he remained physically diminutive. 

By the time he left Boston College, Gaudreau had put together one of the greatest amateur resumes of perhaps any Flames prospect: Hobey Baker Award winner, BeanPot MVP, First Team All-Star, Barry Flynn Trophy winner, World Junior Championship gold medal winner, etc. His final season in Boston saw him score 80 points in 40 games, the best numbers in Hockey East and arguably one of the most impressive NCAA seasons of the last 20 years. 

Despite his various achievements, there was still some lingering doubt that Gaudreau would be able to translate his scoring touch to the NHL level. More than a few outstanding amateurs have stumbled at the first hurdle when it comes to putting up numbers at the highest level. After all – Gaudreau was still very small and the NHL is bigger, meaner and faster than college hockey. It’s one thing to dance around 20-year-old hopefuls, quite another to do it against Drew Doughty or Duncan Keith.

Gaudreau has since shown that such doubts were misplaced. After a Calder-worthy rookie season, the 22-year-old put together one of the best sophomore efforts by a Flames youngster in the organization’s history. He scored at a near point-per-game pace and finished sixth in the NHL scoring race. He led the team in scoring by 15 points despite being one of its youngest skaters. He became the club’s most potent offensive weapon and one of the league’s most electrifying stars. 

So just how good is Johnny Gaudreau? Here’s some numbers to put his first two NHL seasons into greater context:

The many dizzying feats of Johnny Hockey

– Since 2014-15, Gaudreau is 12th overall in scoring (142 points), sandwiched between Joe Thornton (147 points) and Claude Giroux (140 points). Steven Stamkos has played the same number of games over that period and scored six fewer points than Gaudreau.

– Amongst skaters 23 or younger over the last two seasons, Gaudreau is the leading scorer by 11 points. Second to him is former fourth overall pick Ryan Johansen, who has played three more games.

– Gaudreau’s rookie and sophomore seasons combined total of 142 points is tied for sixth best in the NHL since 2003. The five players in front of him? Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Paul Stastny. The player he is tied with at sixth is Patrick Kane. Guys like Jonathan Toews and John Tavares lag him by 20 points. 

– Gaudreau now boasts the best PPG pace of anyone drafted in 2011. 

– It took Jarome Iginla five seasons to break the 30-goal and 70-point barrier. Gaudreau did it in two.

– Gaudreau is the one of only three Flames player to crack 70 points in the last five seasons (Iginla – 2010-11, 86 points and Jiri Hudler 2014-15, 76 points) .

– The more recent Flames player to score more than 70 in his rookie or sophomore season was Sergei Makarov in 1990. The last guy under the age of 23 to do it was Joe Nieuwendyk in 1988.

– Gaudreau has more points than all of the Flames’ other 2011 draft picks. And 2010 draft picks. And 2009 draft picks. Combined.

And, oh yeah, he’s a human highlight reel.

Make no mistake Flames fans – we’re witnessing the start of what will likely be one of the greatest Flames careers of all time. 

Whatever else you take away from this season, remember its significance in that we got to see Gaudreau start to write his chapter in this franchise’s history books. 

  • RedMan

    Somewhere (maybe Fan960?) I thought I heard that Gaudreau made a comment about he and Sean getting the same contract and getting it out of the way quickly – did I miss-hear this?

    if So, does Monny Get Johnny Money, or does Johnny get Monny money?

    inquiring minds want to know.

    • supra steve

      He did also say that ultimately, the agents were handling it. I am hopeful that neither approach negotiations as their chance to grab as big a piece as they can. Would be great if they left a few dollars on the table for BT to use for other players, like their buddy Colborne.

        • supra steve

          Seems to me that Colborne is one of the nicest guys in that locker room. He’s always being interviewed and sounds like he’s well liked by his team mates. If BT can shave a little off of both Gaudreau and Monahan and redirect that money to their team mates (including Colborne), then that is good for the team, and sets an example for future contracts, like Bennett.

          Gio took less than most of us expected when he re signed, and Brodie took a bargain contract. Crosby has never been greedy, he does just fine thank you, but he isn’t even the highest paid Penguin. So, do the young guys follow those examples….or do they follow the Toews/Kane (take all that I can possibly get) example?

        • cberg

          If they get a Finn who cracks the opening night roster, & Jankowski makes the team along with Mangiapanne, and each does well, then I have no problem trading JC. Otherwise, he’s been great with Backlund on a scoring/shutdown line.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Ha if he wants the same contract as Monahan he’s going to have to leave money on the table (which is fine for us). If Monahan gets slightly overpaid as a result, I guess that’s alright, because there’s no way they’re both getting Tarasenko money.

    • Greg

      I’d heard that quote too. Shows how selfless and down to earth Gaudreau is. One of the things I liked best about the Iggy era was he was a genuine nice guy, which isn’t always the case with superstars. Pretty cool we seem to have grabbed another one in that vein.

  • Kpat99

    My buddy Anthony makes those videos. It will be two parts. He had two parts from last year too. Recklesscaution.com is his site check it out he has some awesome highlight packages.

  • Greg

    I couldn’t watch the whole video, but most of those first goals I was still trying to track down where Johnny was and suddenly there was a flame all alone in the front of the net with the puck. Of course the pass had come from Johnny, but the skill was so understated and subtle. And quick. He does things so fast in the game that I can’t even see until the slowmo replay.

  • beloch

    The first time I really got a chance to watch Gaudreau play (not just college highlight reels) was the 2013 junior world cup, back when Gaudreau was 19. He was playing against some of the best prospects available and regularly pulled off amazing plays. He wound up as the leading goal-scorer of the tournament. More than that though, he was just tenacious and relentlessly creative no matter where he was on the ice.

    I’ve watched a lot of prospects that have gone on to have great careers, but practically none of them have made me say, “Wow, this kid is the real deal.” the way I did watching Gaudreau at the world cup. Gaudreau is simply that special.

    As good as his highlight reel is, you could probably put together ten more of his near-misses. Gaudreau has not been particularly lucky this season. The secret to his scoring is that he’s always making magic happen. Always.

    Treliving has put together a decently long string of good contracts. Gaudreau could probably ask for just about anything and get it if he put his foot down but, hopefully, Treliving can convince him to sign a team-friendly contract. Gaudreau is a player I hope we’ll be watching in the Flaming C for more than a decade.

  • everton fc

    He’ll score 100 points at some point.

    I’d like to see Bennett centering him. Anyone think that might further increase the point-production if we added a 1st-rate RW?

    In addition… Our 3rd line, if it’s Colborne/Backlund/Frolik, and w/Monahan and Gaudreau’s contracts… Our 4th line and 5/6 defenders have to come cheap. Ditto our goaltending. A lot for BT to juggle. Colborne at 2.2mill for 3 yrs, if he keeps producing… I’d do that deal and dump Bouma tomorrow.

  • RKD

    Yup, he’s a very special player with very special skills. He is the franchise player and cornerstone piece to building a contender. I’m not worried about his size, BT can complement Gaudreau with those type of players. I want to see him do more of the same and I think his road points will come when we get a little bit better personnel. More points than Stamkos and Giroux in the last couple of years, I’ll take that.

  • KACaribou

    There’s nobody, absolutely nobody, I would trade Johnny Hockey for in the NHL. As far as I am concerned he’s already the most exciting player in the league.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    How good is Johnny Gaudreau….scarey good. To put it in perspective, Johnny had a season where he flirted with a point per game and likely would have got it if he did not have rotating Stockton Right wingers in the last several games.

    What amazes me is, he has not even scratched the surface on his potential. Most of Johnny’s points are self generated, very few soft points ( open nets, fortunate secondary assists). He has had limited Powerplay points on one of the leagues worst power plays. He gets no penalty killing time which still blows me away.

    So how good can Johnny be when he has a quality RW for an entire season, how good can he be if he works on the power behind his shot, or if he takes more slap shots, uses his potent Backhand, is a little stronger on his wraparounds.

    To be in the top 10 in scoring when he only uses a small part of his arsenal is incredibly promising. A bit more strength and thickness will make it even harder to knock him off the puck. IMO Johnny is a RWer away ( Lucic or Okposo) from challenging for the scoring title. He needs a Policeman on the wing with grit and scoring ability. Based on the liberties players like Keith were taking on him, the team needs to protect its greatest asset so Flames fans can continue to marvel at the little magician.

  • Brodano12

    Monahan having offer sheet availability vs Gaudreau not may be a bargaining chip for BT to get them the same contract. He’s talked about it a lot in his interviews and with both Johnny and Monny down for equal contracts, I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnny and Monny locked up long term at no more than 14 million together (absolute MAX imo).