Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Johnny Gaudreau is the best player in college hockey right now, and there’s an NHL franchise that wants him, Will he stay or will he go?
Johnny Gaudreau, better known to you and me as “Johnny Hockey,” is all but certain to win the 2014 Hobey Baker Award tonight, though it will be little consolation for those who wanted him to win another national championship on Saturday.
When he skated off the ice on Thursday night following the Eagles’ defeat to Union in the Frozen Four, many Boston College fans understood that it could be his last time in maroon and gold.
There are no surprises at this point. Boston College hockey supporters know that this is a program which tends to bring in (and churn out) top talent. When Johnny Gaudreau goes pro — and it’s only a matter of if, not when — he will be the latest in a respectable list of Jerry York players to leave early. In recent times, that list has included Chris Kreider, Cory Schneider, and Cam Atkinson. It happens because it is bound to happen.
For Gaudreau, this is certainly going to be a difficult decision. On one hand, he has risen to the apex of the college game and has conquered all. Johnny Gaudreau is a national champion, a soon-to-be Hobey winner, and he will go down as one of the best offensive players in Boston College history. There is little else for him to accomplish here. On the other hand, however, he would probably be jumping straight into the farm system, not the big club.
It seems prudent to believe that Gaudreau would not be on the ice at the Saddledome right away next season. He is a small-framed guy with not a great deal of muscle, but in the modern NHL, you have to be able to throw your weight around to some degree. Bigger NHL centers could shuffle off Gaudreau’s mortal coil if they put a check on him.
It’s not just me saying that, either: quoth Calgary Flames general manager Brian Burke:
"There is everything but his size to like about him."
Obviously, he and the Flames like all else, but he most likely won’t get a regular gig in the NHL to start. He’s still very young and he’s got a bunch of tools, so he will make it to the big stage, but not right away. If we know that, so does he. Might he take one more year at Boston College to continue to boost his value and start hitting the weight room?
It’s Johnny Gaudreau’s call. His value probably isn’t going to get any higher than it is now, because how high can you go from high, but there may be any number of reasons why he would want to stick around for one more year.
Just don’t be shocked if he doesn’t.