It’s been proven time after time that you don’t need to be big to become an accomplished NHL player. Another fine example of this is Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames who stands just 5-feet-9-inches tall and tips the scales anywhere between 155 and 165 lbs. Gaudreau was born in Salem, New Jersey and played in the United States Hockey league with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in 2010/11 where he helped Dubuque capture the championship.
His 36 goals and 36 assists in 60 games and 11 points in 11 playoff outings resulted in Gaudreau being named to the league’s All-Rookie, and Second All-Star Teams and taking home the Rookie of the Year honors. Soon after, he was selected by Calgary in the fourth round of the NHL Draft in 2011 with the 104th pick. At the time, he was just 5-feet-6-inches tall.
Gaudreau played NCAA college hockey with the Boston College Eagles for the next three seasons. He notched 21 goals and 44 points in 44 games as a freshman to lead his league in rookie scoring and helped his team win the National Championship. He was named MVP of the playoff tournament as well as MVP of the Beanpot Tournament which his school also won.
As a sophomore, Gaudreau registered 21 goals and 51 points in 35 games to lead the nation at 1.46 points per game and won the Beanpot Championship again. He was named Player of the Year in his division, a national All-Star, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the best college player in the country. His final year at Boston College ended in 36 goals and 80 points in 40 contests as the nation’s top scorer. He took home Player of the Year honors again, was named a First-Team All-Star and won the Hobey Baker Award.
Gaudreau made his NHL debut in April, 2014 in the last game of the 2013/14 season. It was a memorable outing as he scored on his first shot on net. He opened 2014/15 on the Calgary roster and finished the year with 40 goals and a rookie-high 40 assists for 64 points to tie Mark Stone in rookie scoring. He then posted nine points in 11 playoff outings. Gaudreau was a Calder Memorial Trophy finalist, but rookie of the year honors went to Aaron Ekblad. However, he was named to the All-Rookie Team.
In Gaudreau’s second season, he finished tied in sixth place in NHL scoring with 30 goals and 48 assists in 79 games, but the Flames missed the playoffs. Gaudreau was unsigned when the 2016/17 preseason started as his entry-level contract had expired. He missed training camp and finally agreed to a new $40.5 million, six-year deal just before opening day.
The winger missed 10 games of the campaign due to a broken finger and posted 61 points on 18 goals and 43 helpers in 72 contests. Gaudreau led the Flames in regular-season scoring, but notched just two assists in four playoff outings. He did win the Lady Byng Trophy though for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly play.
Gaudreau managed to play 80 games in 2017/18 and bounced back with 24 goals and 60 assists to lead his squad in scoring again and played in his fourth All-Star Game. However, the Flames missed the postseason for the second time in his first four seasons.
In international competition, Gaudreau scored a tournament-high seven goals along with nine points in seven games to lead the USA to gold at the 2013 World Junior Championships. He was also named to the All Star Team for his efforts. Since then he’s participated in the World Championships and the 2014 World Cup of Hockey, winning a bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships.
Gaudreau’s a very creative player with fine passing and finishing skills and quite dangerous on the power-play. He may be at a disadvantage because of his diminutive size, but you’d never know it.