After being cut from the United States World Junior team last winter, John Gaudreau had doubts about his hockey career. But in fact, being cut has helped Gaudreau take his game to the next level for Boston College.
He made the final roster for Team USA, but was one of four forwards cut right before the 2012 World Junior Championship started last winter. Some players may have taken away a very negative approach from that experience; Gaudreau was upset, but he didn’t let it impact his season, and in fact, Gaudreau’s play improved.
“I am actually really thankful I got cut because I came back to BC upset,” Gaudreau said.
“I was down about myself and didn’t think I was capable of playing in this league. I was not playing well playing for BC before I left, but ever since then my game has taken off.”
Gaudreau’s game took off in the second half of the Boston College season, and he was a big part of its National Championship campaign. Down the stretch he dominated college hockey, scoring 13 points in only 10 games during March and April. He earned the Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Month award in Hockey East for March, and the Hockey Commissioners' Association National Rookie of the Month honors for March/April.
“At times, (being cut) was bad because I wanted to play in that tournament, but it was good for me to get cut, in the long run,” Gaudreau said.
Gaudreau, a fourth round pick of the Calgary Flames, scored 21 goals and 23 assists last season, scoring at a point-per-game pace. So far this season, Gaudreau has five points in only three games, a performance that helped him earn the Athletic Republic Player of the Week in Hockey East last week
Gaudreau has earned several other honors over the past few seasons, and was named Rookie of the Year while playing in the USHL for the Dubuque Saints. Gaudreau scored 36 goals and had 36 assists for the Saints during the 2010-11 season.
“He was a terrific player even before he came to BC, he dominated the USHL winning Rookie of the Year, and what he is doing here is just evolving that,” Boston College coach Jerry York said. “He has always had a special magic to him, and he is definitely one of the players around Hockey East that people come to watch play.”
The way Gaudreau has been evolving his game has made him one of the top threats in Hockey East.
“If you mention five players that you want to [watch in Hockey East], Johnny has to be there,” York said.
York has coached several undersized players over the years before Gaudreau, who is 5'8”. York has helped coach the likes of Brian Gionta, Nathan Gerbe, and Cam Atkinson into the players they are today. Talent-wise, Gaudreau isn’t too far off from what they were in college.
“He is right on a track with the likes of Nathan Gerbe and Brian Gionta from [when they were here],” York said, comparing Gaudreau to Gerbe and Gionta. “He is only in his second year with us, but he is a really strong, competitive kid who doesn’t have to be 6 foot 2 inches.”
Being one of the smaller players around, he has been told he is too short before. His height isn’t something that he lets affect him in a negative manner, though.
“I get told I’m too short all the time, it motivates me, and it is something I don’t take too lightly,” Gaudreau said. “I hate it when people say that kind of stuff [about my height]. Seeing players like Gionta or other [undersized] players in the NHL, it just makes me want to prove myself like they have.”
Gaudreau has been able to participate in the Calgary Flames development camps. Participating in these camps has been something that has helped him get a different feel for the game at a different level beyond the NCAA.
“Camp has helped me a lot [with my development], and my first time [at camp] I was a bit shaky,” Gaudreau said. “But last summer I got to play with some guys who already had NHL experience and have scored NHL goals, which helped me a lot.
Although Gaudreau was cut from the U.S. World Junior team last season, he is currently on the final roster for this season's tournament. With his continued improvement from last year, Gaudreau has lined himself up to have a chance to impress this winter.
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