It’s pretty special for me to be part of something like that. Jarome Iginla, I grew up watching him. He’s been so successful. It’s exciting to be a part of something like that. - Johnny Gaudreau
CALGARY, AB -- In terms of the Calgary Flames, there isn’t better company for Johnny Gaudreau to join.
With his 17th and 18th goals of his year in Calgary’s 6-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday, the 21-year-old became the first member of the Flames to record 50 points in his rookie season since Jarome Iginla in 1996-97 to accomplish the feat.
That’s not lost on Gaudreau.
“It’s pretty special for me to be part of something like that,” he said. “Jarome Iginla, I grew up watching him. He’s been so successful. It’s exciting to be a part of something like that. It’s exciting. I always dreamed about playing in the NHL. I’m pretty fortunately to be playing with [Jiri Hudler] and [Sean Monahan] who have really helped me out here all season long. It’s pretty exciting for me.”
Iginla finished his 82-game rookie campaign with 50. Gaudreau has 15 skates remaining to move past the longtime captain, who holds franchise records in games played (1219), goals (525) and points (1095).
Kris Russell, who’s three assists against the Ducks gives him eight points in the past four games, isn’t sure that milestone completely registers with the dynamic freshman.
“I don’t know if he does (realize),” Russell said. “He just comes to the rink and works hard every day. Everyone can see how highly skilled he is but at the same time he works hard, puts in the effort and he competes every night regardless of his size. He’s not going to win every battle but at the same time he doesn’t quit. He’s been very great.”
Great might be an understatement.
Dynamic, offered Matt Stajan, might fit the 5-foot-9, 150-pound winger better.
“He’s such a dynamic player and he’s fun to watch every single day, practice or game,” said Stajan, who had two goals against Anaheim. “Hopefully there’s a lot more for him to come this year. He’s setting the bar high for the rest of his career.
“He’s laid back. I think he would never tell us but guys are so happy for him. He’s a great player, great kid. That’s quick. That’s quick for him. It’s great. We have fun with him all the time. We need him to keep playing the way he is.”
Gaudreau’s bar, though, has been continually raised.
And not just by teammates.
“For me, Johnny Gaudreau had the game of his young career so far,” coach Bob Hartley said following Wednesday's win. “He's going to get many more like this, but tonight he was flying.
“This kid deserves tons of credit -- how many more games he's already played at the NHL level versus a college season, and he keeps being fresh. He keeps finding energy and being on the puck and being creative. Those two goals tonight, for me, they were worth the price of admission.”
To the Flames, though, he’s been priceless.
“That’s great for this organization,” Stajan said. “We needed a dynamic player like him. With him, [Monahan] and [Hudler] being a consistent scoring line all year for us, that’s a big reason why we’ve been able to consistently win games.”