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Rookie Report: John Gaudreau

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- If John Gaudreau's early-season performance with Boston College is any indication, he may have been the steal of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

In four games, Gaudreau has two goals and six points. He is second in team scoring and is just one point behind Boston's leader and fellow Flames prospect, Bill Arnold. He isn't showing any signs of slowing down either, something that has greatly pleased the Flames brass.

He was selected in the fourth round, 104th overall, this summer and there was whispers that he is one of the - if not the - most skilled players in the entire draft pool. The only thing scaring teams away from drafting him earlier was his size. Standing 5-foot-6 and weighing 141 lbs, Gaudreau isn't exactly the picture of intimidation. His baby-faced mug doesn't help either.

That being said, he excelled at the USHL level with the Dubuque Fighting Saints and was named USHL's rookie of the year last season. He managed 36 goals and 72 points in 60 games during the 2010-11 campaign and was one of only two members of his team to hit the 60-point plateau.

The Fighting Saints went on to capture the Clark Cup last season with Gaudreau adding five goals and 11 points in the 11 postseason games Dubuque played.

Gaudreau could have continued his career with the Fighting Saints but opted to head down the NCAA path instead.

Originally, he had committed to playing for the Northeastern University Huskies but after former head coach Greg Cronin resigned to take a position with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New Jersey native was released from that commitment.

Several schools were interested in Gaudreau's services but in the end, he opted to play for Boston College. The Eagles have been a powerhouse in the NCAA over the past decade, picking up three championships since 2001, with their most recent victory coming in 2010.

Boston is off to a great start this season, posting a 3-1-0 record. They've averaged 3.92 goals-per-game and have only allowed an average of 2.25 goals-per-game.

Some worried the diminutive forward wouldn't be able to cope with the physical rigors of playing with men but that hasn't been the case.

His speed and agility have been his greatest asset when it comes to shaking off checks from larger players. He's able to dodge oncoming checks without losing possession of the puck thanks to the fact the opposition rarely can keep up with him.

Another major asset is his stickhandling skills. He handles the puck better than the vast majority of his opponent, weaving through the offensive zone with a prowess rarely seen in someone his age.

Gaudreau was a standout at the Flames development camp this summer, earning rave reviews from head coach Brent Sutter.

"Anybody you’ve talked to about him, the bigger the game, the tougher the game, the better he played.

"That’s a very intriguing sign. They say he’s got great bite to his game. You don’t measure the heart of a player by how big he is."

Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson

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