It’s getting down to crunch time in the prospect world, as the most wonderful time of year is upon us. College hockey has already entered the conference playoff stage while major junior is down to jockeying for berths in the post-season. The high schoolers in Minnesota are already finished and the story of the winners is pretty compelling. Meet the captain of that squad, plus nine other NHL prospects making noise in our weekly round-up.
Love the shootout or not, it’s impossible to deny that the skills competition provides some incredible highlight reel fodder. Johnny Gaudreau’s Sunday is case in point.
Coming down one-on-one against Craig Anderson, Gaudreau didn’t just put one great move on the Ottawa Senators goaltender, he used so many that Anderson started to look like a robot gone haywire. Gaudreau strated with a leg kick, on which Anderson bit, followed that up with a fake to the backhand which drew Anderson to his left and finished it off by going forehand to push the puck between Anderson’s legs and into the net. Read more
Maybe it’s time we stopped trying to figure out the Calgary Flames.
So they’re a young team, amassing elite prospects like Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett, building for the future. Doesn’t matter. The Flames are winning right now.
So the analytics numbers suggest they’re one of the league’s worst possession teams – inferior even to Edmonton, Toronto, Arizona and Carolina. Doesn’t matter. The Flames are winning right now.
So they lost all-world blueliner Mark Giordano to a torn biceps tendon for the season. Doesn’t matter. The Flames are winning right now. Visit Philly, visit Boston, visit Detroit, no problem, come out with six points to start March.
But surely, a 4-0 deficit in the third period of Sunday’s game against the Ottawa Senators would smother these Flames, right? Absolutely not. Here’s the must-watch sequence if you missed it:
From the Hollydell Arena he runs in New Jersey, Guy Gaudreau can practically see the hockey-mad city of Philadelphia, though in the small town of Carney’s Point, hockey has historically taken a backseat to the other major American sports. The most famous person to come out of the town is actor Bruce Willis, but there’s a new name on the scene, and it happens to be Gaudreau’s son John.
Yes, in Carney’s Point, one of the most dynamic and unlikely hockey talents in generations is simply known to friends and family as ‘John,’ once a tyke whose dad put Skittles on the ice for him and his younger brother to skate toward while Guy was coaching 16-year-olds.
“It entertained them for the hour,” Guy said. “They were really wired up by the time they were done.”
But outside the confines of Riverside South Jersey, that tiny tyke is Calgary Flames right winger Johnny Gaudreau, a.k.a. ‘Johnny Hockey,’ a prospect whose legend grew so fast that the Flames literally had a private jet pick him up after his college career was finished so he and Boston College linemate Bill Arnold could be whisked away to join the NHL as soon as possible.
And while Arnold is still learning the pro game one season later in the minors, Gaudreau is one of the top-scoring rookies in the NHL – not to mention one of the smallest in recent memory. When Calgary drafted Gaudreau in the fourth round in 2011 out of the USHL, the youngster was listed at 5-foot-6 and 137 pounds. He’s not a whole lot bigger now, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting together one of the most impressive pre-NHL careers around and silencing the many doubters he had. Read more
The first-ever National Independent School Invitational Championship is happening now, just north of Toronto. Hosted by St. Andrew’s College and Upper Canada College, the 10-team challenge brings together a lot of prep programs that are familiar with each other, but organizers hope this shindig will also increase the level of exposure these hockey teams receive.
While New England prep schools have long been known for hockey excellence, programs such as St. Andrew’s and Stanstead College in Quebec are just beginning to rise up. St. Andrew’s boasts Carolina Hurricanes third-rounder Warren Foegele as an alum, while Stanstead produced Calgary Flames first-rounder Mark Jankowski.
On Saturday, defenseman David Schlemko was a waiver-wire pickup of the Calgary Flames. Five days later, he made his debut for the organization Thursday night on the road against the Boston Bruins – and made it memorable by scoring a stunning, game-winning shootout goal on star netminder Tuukka Rask.
The Flames are the third NHL team for the 27-year-old Schlemko this season: The Edmonton native began the year in Arizona and appeared in 20 games for the Coyotes (scoring one goal and four points) before the team waived him January 2; and the Dallas Stars picked him up one day later and employed him for just five games before putting him back on the waiver wire Feb. 28. Calgary had just lost blueliner and captain Mark Giordano for the season with a torn biceps, so Schlemko was plucked off waivers March 1, but he didn’t play in the Flames’ March 3 game against Philadelphia. And after Calgary and the Bruins were tied at three goals apiece at the end of overtime in Boston, Schlemko was the eighth Flames shooter in the shootout. He did not disappoint – unless you were Rask and his teammates:
It seems like it was only a couple of years back when Alex Tanguay was suiting up alongside fresh-faced Colorado Avalanche forwards like Chris Drury and Milan Hejduk, but, as of tonight, Tanguay will become a 1,000-game player.
Tanguay has made his career as a skillful set-up man, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been able to find his name in the goal column throughout his career. As he gets ready to suit up for the milestone game, fittingly with the same Colorado Avalanche he began his career with, here are the 10 best moments of Tanguay’s career: Read more
If Mark Giordano is to win the Norris Trophy this season, he’ll need to channel his best Bobby Orr to make it happen.
Giordano played 61 games this season before sustaining the torn bicep muscle that will keep him out of Calgary’s lineup until next autumn. In those games, he was the frontrunner for the award given to the NHL’s best defenseman. Problem is, those 61 games represent just 74 percent of an NHL season. The only other time that award went to a blueliner who played a smaller chunk of the season was 1967-68, when the great Orr played just 46 of 74 games (62 percent).
But we all know Orr was in a class by himself. That was the first of eight consecutive Norris Trophies for him.