#1: Johnny Gaudreau
Team: Calgary Flames
Drafted: 2011 #104 (Round 4)
Last Year Rank: #1
Johnny Gaudreau is back in the top spot in our Top 25 Under 25 list and that shouldn’t be surprising. If it is, you’ve been living under a rock. Gaudreau has done everything and then some to earn this spot up top and it doesn’t look like he’s relinquishing his grip on it any time soon.
Now, while some may regard last season as a “down” year for Gaudreau, the 24 year old winger STILL managed to put up 61 points (18 G 43A) in 72 games. Yes, those totals were down from the previous year, but you’d have to think any team would take that effort in a “down year.”
Gaudreau found himself last season as more of a facilitator rather than a pure scorer. His goal totals dropped, but his assist totals probably would have topped or been right at his career highs if he played the entire season. #13 spent sometime on the sidelines after getting hacked to pieces by the Minnesota Wild, yet almost ended up as a point a game player.
Between contract negotiations, injuries and a slow start there were some doubts among the fan base about the quality of Gaudreau’s season. That nonsense should be put to rest. Gaudreau’s speed, hands and ability to see the ice are things Flames fans should be giddy about every season. While he may have been frustrated at times, he still showed off all the things that make him the Flames top player last season. Calgary has Gaudreau locked up for the next 5 seasons and short of some crazy scenario, he’s here for the duration and should continue to be the stud the Flames stole with the #104 pick back in 2011. If you truly need a reminder of what the Flames have in Johnny Gaudreau, watch the nearly 50 minutes of highlights from last season below.
(Stats Courtesy Elite Prospects)