Johnny Gaudreau’s milestones just keep piling up
Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
I was thinking about it this week: it feels like every game these days there’s a new historical mark equaled or eclipsed by Johnny Gaudreau. He’s in the midst of one of the best seasons in Flames history and still has five games to go. Knowing that, I thought I’d put together a rundown of all the things Gaudreau has accomplished thus far… and where that might put him come the end of the regular season.
Last week saw Johnny become the first Calgary player since Theo Fleury in 1993-94 to record 100 points in a single season. Overall, he was the ninth Flames player to tally triple digits and, by doing it in 73 games, Johnny became the third-fastest player in franchise history to hit the mark. Only Kent Nilsson (64 GP in 1980-81) and Bob MacMillan (68 GP in 1978-79) have done it faster.
Since getting to the century mark Gaudreau has recorded eight more points, which now has him in striking distance of completing the second most productive season in team history. Johnny won’t be able to track down Nilsson’s record of 131, but Joe Mullen’s 110 is rather vulnerable.
And, with another point Tuesday night in Nashville, Gaudreau has moved within three points of number one in the Art Ross Trophy race. Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau leads the league with 111 points, one ahead of Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. That’s going to be an interesting fight to the finish with Gaudreau currently sitting third.
One area where Gaudreau won’t be caught is at even strength. While his only point Tuesday was recorded on the power play, Gaudreau’s 85 even strength points lead the NHL by a wide margin; Toronto’s Auston Matthews is second at 74. Last week Johnny passed Guy Chouinard’s prior franchise record of 81 even strength points in a season, a total that just keeps on growing.
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With a secondary marker on Calgary’s first goal Tuesday night, Gaudreau became just the fifth player in team history to record 70 assists in a single season and the first since Al MacInnis posted 75 in 1990-91. With five games to go, Johnny has a decent chance to move into second on a list full of franchise legends.
It’s also important to note 50 of Gaudreau’s 70 assists are primaries, which puts him behind only Huberdeau’s 71 for the league lead. And, unsurprisingly, Johnny’s 43 primary assists at even strength is the highest total in the NHL, well ahead of Huberdeau’s 31.
Gaudreau has already established a new career high with 38 goals and counting, eclipsing his previous best of 36 from 2018-19. He’s got a good chance of hitting 40, as do Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm, who both sit at team leading 39. If Gaudreau gets there before those two, though, he’d be the first Flames player to score 40 since Jarome Iginla finished with 43 in 2010-11.
As a sidenote, Calgary hasn’t had three 40-goal scorers in almost 30 years going back to 1993-94. That season saw Gary Roberts lead the way with 41, while Fleury and Joe Nieuwendyk each finished with 40.
Finally, whether you’re a fan of +/- as a stat or not, you can’t deny how impressive Gaudreau’s +60 mark is this year. As a fluctuating stat, this one is slightly more uncertain, but it stands to reason Johnny is in good shape to establish a new franchise record for +/- in a single season. After all, he’s currently nine up on Mullen’s prior mark.
In the bigger picture, Gaudreau has the chance to become the first forward since Wayne Gretzky (+69) in 1986-87 to finish +60 or better. Amongst all skaters, defenceman Vladimir Konstantinov is the last player who was able to accomplish that feat when he went +60 with Detroit in 1995-96.
Johnny may or may not win the Hart Trophy, but one thing is indisputable: he belongs right near the top of the conversation. It won’t be an injustice if Matthews or McDavid were to win ahead of Gaudreau, but he has the chops and the numbers to go head-to-head with anyone for the NHL’s top individual trophy. Trying to predict how writers in 32 different cities will vote is a fool’s errand, but I hope Gaudreau ends up a finalist at the very least.
As for his next contract as a pending unrestricted free agent, well, that’s a little more unclear. I still believe Gaudreau will sign back with the Flames, but there’s no doubt it’ll be the largest contract in team history by a country mile. After what he’s done this year, it’s hard to argue Johnny isn’t one of the very best players on the planet. Very soon, he’ll be paid like one, too.
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