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ALL-TIME ALL-STARS - GAUDREAU

He's already one of the best players in team history ... and he's only 24 years old! Talk about the best is yet to come

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

They are the best of the best in Calgary Flames history.

Over 24 days we will profile our All-Time All-Stars (listed alphabetically at each position). Make sure to check back daily to see who's getting the nod.

May 8 - Theoren Fleury (RW)

May 9 - Jarome Iginla (RW)

May 10 - Hakan Loob (RW)

May 11 - Lanny McDonald (RW)

May 12 - Joey Mullen (RW)

May 13 - Doug Gilmour (C)

May 14 - Joe Nieuwendyk (C)

May 15 - Kent Nilsson (C)

May 16 - Joel Otto (C)

May 17 - Craig Conroy (C)

May 18-22 - Left-wingers

May 23-28 - Defencemen

May 29-31 - Goaltenders

Today, we look at the team's current offensive phenom: Johnny Hockey

 

The raves began early on and continue, unabated.

"He's got that Wow! Factor," lauded former Flames captain Joe Nieuwendyk.

Echoed Hall-of-Famer Joe Mullen: "I wasn't the biggest guy, either. I certainly wasn't going to beat anybody up but my revenge was to make it hurt on the scoreboard.

"Looks like he feels the same way.

"Sure, he's small, slight. Then again, so was Gretzky."

Theo Fleury, a different variety small man of an earlier vintage, also threw his backing squarely behind the shifty sorcerer.

"How can you not be cheering for him?'' wondered the franchise's second all-time leading point producer. "He's the most talked about player the Flames have had in a long time, right?

"He's got people excited again. He's fun to watch. Keep it coming."

Oh, he has.

He most surely has.

Seems sportswriters across the length and breadth of the NHL are digging into their thesauruses trying to unearth novel ways to describe Johnny Gaudreau's exploits.

Incredible vision. Deceptive speed. Patience beyond his years. A knack for avoiding the brutes assigned to slow him down. An unteachable flair for the dramatic.

What really sets Gaudreau apart, though, is the way he makes those watching feel when he's on the job and humming along at top form. He's been, virtually since Day One, a Game 82 call-up for his NHL debut in Vancouver, one of those rare "price-of-admission" talents.

"Gaudreau,'' once confessed Bruce Boudreau, currently coach of the Minnesota Wild, speaking on behalf of oppositions everywhere, "scares you every time he touches the puck."

Already he's deserving of a place of distinction among the Calgary Flames franchise's pantheon of top port-siders.

Flames' assistant coach Martin Gelinas has been on board since Gaudreau arrived from his Hobey Baker Award-capturing final turn at Boston College.

"He's got bits of this guy and pieces of that guy," reasoned Gelinas, someone who played with and against his share of superstars down through the years. "But in saying that, he's very much his own guy. 

"And I think that's what makes him special.

"He's in a different class.

"In my time, Pavel Bure was so exciting. Every time you watched Pavel your eyes were glued to him because his speed, from Point A to B, was unmatched. Watch clips of Alex Mogilny. And you see something of Johnny there, too.

"But he's got a different type of body type than either those guys. He doesn't have the power Pavel had. Or maybe the explosiveness of Mogilny. But he does have a level of quickness I haven't seen before."

"His ability to make time and space for himself is unique. He comes at defencemen at 100 mph, turns on a dime and creates that six to eight feet he needs to complete the right pass.

"He's the most exciting young player I've worked with in a long, long time."

Over four seasons, the will-'o-the-wisp winger from Carney's Point, N.J., is averaging a shade north of 71 points per campaign. In four years, four All-Star Game trips. A Calder Trophy finalist and All Rookie Team selection in 2015. A Lady Byng Trophy recipient two years later.

The first Flame since feisty Fleury as far back as '92-93 to surmount the 60-assist plateau in a season. The team's leading scorer three years on the trot.

And the astounding thing is, he's only 24 …

 

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