clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2014-15 Flames report cards: Johnny Gaudreau

New, comments

He stole our hearts from the moment we first saw him take to the ice. Today, we're looking at the Flames' littlest, and also bestest, rookie: Johnny Hockey.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

When Johnny Gaudreau officially had nothing left to win in college, he made the jump to professional hockey. He scored his first goal on his first shot, and the city of Calgary, hyped about him for the past three years, welcomed him with open arms.

The tale was different outside, though. Rival fans scoffed at Flames fans' levels of enthusiasm, predicting him to bust. National media outlets carried much the same tune, and when Gaudreau failed to record a single point in the first five games of his rookie season, they were vindicated.

Gaudreau was healthy scratched, and took in an NHL game from the pressbox.

After that, he went on a scoring tear, to the point of "literally no other first player scored more than he did, though one guy did tie him at least". He wasn't too small or too green to be the Flames' second leading scorer in the regular season, and leading scorer in the playoffs, after all.

He didn't flounder as the season went on. He showed defensive awareness. He sniped from improbable angles and made players 10 years older, half a foot taller, and 50 or 80 pounds heavier look like fools, outdangling and outsmarting them at every turn.

Opposing teams sent out their best against him. They couldn't contain Johnny Hockey, a silly nickname born thanks to college sports enthusiasm that turned fully justified. Here are our thoughts on him.

arii (A):

Johnny Gaudreau. Is. Awesome. At the start of the season, we weren’t even sure if he was going to make the NHL team, which seems so hard to believe now. Leading the league in rookie scoring, second on the Flames in the regular season, and first in the playoffs, there’s absolutely nothing more you could have asked from him. What’s happened to Gaudreau his entire hockey career once again happened, this time in the NHL: he was doubted. He made his doubters look like fools.

Gaudreau played somewhat sheltered minutes, starting primarily in the offensive zone throughout the year, but it makes sense. Scoring is his skillset. Bob Hartley put him alongside Jiri Hudler and gave him the best circumstances possible to succeed, and Gaudreau succeeded. Fans across the league love to watch him, and he’s already a household name in Calgary. And that was just one season. The potential is immense, and it’s going to be awesome to watch him continue to grow. As it stands, though, his debut season was fantastic, and he was already able to establish himself as one of the Flames’ best.

Mike FAIL (A):

Johnny Gaudreau has a bright future ahead of him if he continues to perform at the level he did for much of the 2014-15 season. He exceeded many expectations in the hockey world, including some personal expectations I had, and captivated fans across the league. Kudos to him for being one of maybe four Flames forwards who can cleanly enter the offensive zone and create chances. Seriously, I love you Johnny Hockey. Next up is beating Aaron Ekblad for the Calder and working on building upon his rookie year’s success.

HockeyGoalieEh (A):

It’s certainly been quite the season since Brian Burke spoke more positively about Joe Colborne than he did Gaudreau while Bob Hartley was scratching him for not contributing. Gaudreau came in and lit the league on fire as a rookie, and could potentially take home the Calder as a result. He wasn’t quite Hudler level good or Giordano level good, but if he’s the third piece to the Flames' rebuilding process then Calgary is in fantastic shape. There’s no reason to believe he won’t contribute to the Flames' long term success (unless Burke decides he needs to trade him for somebody with bigger hands).

saltysyd (A+):

The buzz around Calgary prior to the season was all about this Johnny Hockey kid. What a breakout season he had. Any other season, and the Calder would have been his without question. In one of the strongest rookie years in a long time, he shone. Through all the dangles and snipes, Johnny proved naysayers wrong, and showed kids that you don’t have to be a behemoth of a person to play in the NHL. Heck, he even killed it in the playoffs. That’s a lot to ask of a rookie, but he did it.

ctibs (A+):

There’s really not much to write about Johnny Hockey that you already don’t know about him. He is amazing and at age 21, he can only get better. Imagine how good his stats could’ve been if he had been paired with Monahan and Hudler the entire season.

LiamPMcCausland (A+):

Gaudreau is love. Gaudreau is life. Gaudreau is good. Rookie seasons don’t come much better than that one. Welcome to the show, Johnny Hockey.

cofstats (A):

The fact that Johnny Gaudreau was an All-Star who wanted to light his stick on fire during the skills competition as a tribute to his team tells you all you need to know about the rookie. Seriously.

The votes are in, and the verdict: we all love Johnny Gaudreau. It's impossible not to. It didn't even take a full season for him to become one of the more electrifying players in the league, and this is just the beginning. Naturally, we gave him an astounding A for his efforts.

Tonight's the night we learn if voters truly believed he was the best rookie in the league or not... but I think we all know the answer.