Gaudreau Goes Pro: Johnny Hockey Signs With Flames

Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Thanks for the memories, Johnny.

Per the Boston Herald, Boston College forward and Hobey Baker Award winner Johnny Gaudreau is now a member of the Calgary Flames.  Gaudreau signed a contract with Calgary, negating his remaining eligibility and officially ending one of the most storied careers in college hockey history. According to the Herald a Flames jet will pick up Gaudreau after the Hobey Baker Ceremony and take him to Calgary where he and Bill Arnold will prepare for Sunday's game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Gaudreau finishes his BC career with 175 points in 119 career games.  A member of the 2012 national championship Eagles squad, he is one of only three players from the school to win the Hobey Baker Award (first since 2000).  Gaudreau was a two-time Hobey Hat Trick candidate as one of the final three candidates for the award (including his '14 victory), and he was also a two-time Hockey East Player of the Year.  As part of BC, he aided Team USA in the World Junior Championships in 2013, winning gold in Ufa, Russia while being named to the WJC All Star team.

It was almost a career with BC that wasn't.  After scoring 72 points for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL in 2011, Gaudreau originally had a letter of intent to play for Northeastern.  But after Greg Cronin resigned to take a position with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Gaudreau opted out and was released from his LOI.  He committed to BC and made an immediate impact with 21 goals and 23 assists as the Eagles completed the trifecta of trophies with the Beanpot, Hockey East, and national titles.  Gaudreau himself played a key cog in all of BC's successes, winning the Beanpot MVP Award, the Bill Flynn Trophy as the postseason MVP in Hockey East, and scoring the final stamp goal with a highlight reel strike against Ferris State in the national title game.

BC fans knew Gaudreau was operating in Chestnut Hill on borrowed time given his successes and draft rights with Calgary after being selected in the fourth round in the '11 draft (before he arrived on campus).  But even the fans and BC faithful couldn't predict how he would do in his sophomore year, when he was named Hockey East Player of the Year and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award won by Drew LeBlanc (St. Cloud).  Gaudreau matched his freshman total of 21 goals but increased his assist total en route to a 50-point season.  He led the nation with 1.46 points per game and was named a first-team All-American.  Boston College won a fourth consecutive Beanpot in that year, but the rest of trophy season came up empty as the Eagles lost in the Hockey East tournament to BU and lost to Union in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

After the season, the "will he or won't he" question started to arise with regularity as Calgary started making moves indicative of their commitment to the future.  Having traded Jarome Iginla to PIttsburgh for Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski, along with a 2013 first round pick, the Flames began taking more vested interest in Gaudreau as they gutted their team for prospects.

Gaudreau did return, though not surprisingly, and turned in one of the most memorable seasons by a college hockey player in the game's history.  He recorded the first 80-point season since David Emma in 1990-1991 (81), just the third time overall in BC program history (the other, and first, was by Craig Janney in 1986-1987 (83)), setting the record for most points by a junior.  He tied Paul Kariya's single season points streak at 31 games, and BC once again won the Beanpot.  With the win this year, Gaudreau helped the senior class become just the second in school history to go a perfect 8-0 in the Boston-based tournament, and it served as a predecessor to once again being named Hockey East Player of the Year again in a runaway.  Despite this, the Eagles failed to advance to the Boston Garden for the conference playoff semifinals but did garner a top seed in the national tournament.

In the national tournament, he managed to take his game to another level.  Facing fourth-seeded Denver in the first round, he scored a hat trick and six points, then tacked on another two points as BC won the Northeast Regional.  Against Union in the Frozen Four, he scored another goal and two assists.  With less than five seconds left, BC pulled within a goal of the Dutchmen, and somehow, off the ensuing draw, Gaudreau found himself weaving through the circle with the puck on his stick.  In three seconds, he got a shot off, on goal, but it was stopped.  Still, Barry Melrose wrapped up saying that no team could score in three seconds off a face off when Gaudreau took the shot.

It is unlikely we'll ever see another individual player quite like Johnny Gaudreau.  His #13 will almost assuredly hang in the rafters one day at Conte Forum, and he is a shoo-in for the Boston College Hall of Fame one day.  While he won't clinch the BC career points record, he will leave The Heights as possibly the greatest player in school history.  Now he takes the next step, onto the Calgary Flames, who watched this year intently as Gaudreau quickly became the centerpiece of their rebuilding efforts.

On a personal level, as a college hockey fan and professional, there are guys that you don't believe are that good until you actually start watching them.  Johnny Gaudreau was one of those guys who you believed was that good, yet you were still blown away when you watched him.  Whether or not his size and skill translates to the pros is of no consequence to that fact.  What he accomplished in college is something that became legendary, found another level of legendary, and exceeded expectations at every turn, even as expectations became impossible to achieve.  We were all fortunate for the opportunity to have seen him play, even if you weren't a BC fan.

Congratulations on a great three years, thank you so much for providing countless hockey memories, and best of luck in the NHL.

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