Johnny Gau­dreau

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

When: Af­ter the NHL’s three-day Christ­mas break, the Avalanche hosts Gau­dreau and the Cal­gary Flames on Tues­day in the first meet­ing of the sea­son be­tween the for­mer divi­sion ri­vals.

What’s up: De­spite miss­ing 10 games be­cause of a bro­ken fin­ger, the 5-foot-9, 157pound Gau­dreau was lead­ing the Flames in scor­ing en­ter­ing the week­end. “Johnny Hockey” un­der­went fin­ger surgery and was sched­uled to miss four to six weeks but re­turned in less than three. His re­turn be­gan with four con­sec­u­tive mul­ti­point games. He has 11 points in eight games over­all, with the Flames go­ing 6-2 over that stretch.

Back­ground: Gau­dreau is from Salem, N.J., and be­fore play­ing three years for Bos­ton Col­lege, he won the United States Hockey League (ju­nior-A) cham­pi­onship with the Dubuque Fight­ing Saints, who were coached by cur­rent Uni­ver­sity of Den­ver coach Jim Mont­gomery. Gau­dreau was just 17 that sea­son but scored 36 goals in 60 games. He scored an­other 36 goals in 40 games to win the Hobey Baker Award as col­lege hockey’s best player in 2013-14, the year BC elim­i­nated DU in the first round of the Johnny Gau­dreau NCAA Tour­na­ment.

Be­cause of his small stature, Gau­dreau wasn’t se­lected by an NHL team un­til the fourth round in 2011, by Cal­gary.

Cham­bers’ take: Gau­dreau is the NHL’s next Pavel Dat­syuk, a left-shoot­ing ma­gi­cian with the puck, and his size and 14-year-old fa­cial ap­pear­ance make him a fas­ci­nat­ing player to fol­low. For op­po­nents, he’s ex­tremely elu­sive, which is why he has been rel­a­tively durable. He missed just five games in his first two full NHL sea­sons. The Flames rec­og­nize his value and awarded Gau­dreau a six-year, $40.5 mil­lion con­tract ($6.75 mil­lion cap hit) just be­fore the sea­son.

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