Courtesy NBC Sports
By Joe Yerdon
If you’re not familiar with Calgary Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau, you’re likely going to hear a lot about him in the coming months.
Gaudreau was a star player at Boston College and won the 2014 Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player. Scoring 36 goals with 80 points in 40 games made him the virtual automatic winner of the award as offensive output like that doesn’t happen very often in college hockey.
The same day he won the Hobey, he signed his entry level deal with the Flames. Two days later he made his NHL debut and scored his first goal. Making a first impression like that is a good way to get fans excited, but now it’s a matter of doing it daily at the pro level.
Potentially working against Gaudreau is his size. At 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds he’s far from big, but fortunately for him he has a role model who’s been making his size work for him for a while in the NHL in Martin St. Louis.
The comparisons with St. Louis are something he’s been dealing with for a while. They’re even more apt considering both guys played college hockey and were big time scorers there. What may help Gaudreau most is the situation the Flames are in as they rebuild.
Gaudreau will have every opportunity to crack Calgary’s roster right out of training camp and, after a quick glance at who they have now, there’s no reason to think he can’t do it.
The Flames are lacking in dynamic offensive players. Gaudreau has shown he can light it up at the college level (175 points in 119 games) and while doing it against much bigger pros is a lot harder, opponents may find his speed and elusiveness hard to handle. If he can show his BC skills during camp, we may be talking about him as a Calder Trophy candidate in no time.