We know he's a skilled guy and he's an intelligent player. But to be able to produce the way he has, at that level of competition speaks volumes to where his game is at. We've been really pleased with what has taken place and for me personally, he's overshot the expectations I had. - Brad Treliving on Johnny Gaudreau's play at the World Championship
CALGARY, AB -- By now, most Calgary Flames fans are well aware of how Johnny Gaudreau ended the round robin tournament at the World Championship but his performance against Germany deserves yet another mention.
The 20-year-old picked up four points against the Germans on Tuesday, scoring a highlight-reel goal and notching three assists on route to a 5-4 USA victory. One of the helpers is on par with the tally in terms of the skill level required; Gaudreau sent a behind-the-net, turnaround pass that landed Justin Abdelkader's stick, which he then deposited into the net to open the scoring.
Gaudreau is fifth in tournament scoring with 10 points in seven games, leads all skaters with eight assists, and leads the USA in scoring.
Simply put, he has been a force to be reckoned with in Belarus.
"It's a unique year, with the World Championships being in an Olympic year. You're seeing a different base. It's a lot younger and, in a lot of instances, there's not as many of the Olympians participating. That being said, it's a great tournament," Flames general manager Brad Treliving told CalgaryFlames.com. "It's a high level of hockey and Johnny has excelled at that level.
"We know he's a skilled guy and he's an intelligent player. But to be able to produce the way he has, at that level of competition speaks volumes to where his game is at. We've been really pleased with what has taken place and for me personally, he's overshot the expectations I had."
Gaudreau, a fourth round pick in 2011, is coming off a career-year which saw him tally 36 goals and 80 points in 40 games with Boston College, sign a three-year entry-level deal with the Flames and score his first NHL goal in his first NHL game.
He and the USA take on Jiri Hudler and Czech Republic in Thursday's quarterfinals.
While his numbers aren't as flashy as Gaudreau's, Sean Monahan's play in Minsk also has caught Treliving's attention. The 19-year-old has seen his role for Canada grow as the tournament has gone on due to responsible play in all three zones.
"It's been good with Sean," Treliving stated. "Knowing the coach, Dave Tippett, values smart, reliable, two-way play and I think you've seen Sean earn trust from the coaches there. That speaks volumes. Dave doesn't just give ice time away. You have to earn it. You have to be intelligent. You have to be responsible on both sides of the puck.
"I think it's been a tremendous experience for Sean. When you think of Sean, here's a guy a year removed from playing in major junior. First of all, to be on that team and then second of all, to play in this tournament at his age ... he'll look back at this as a real important step in his development."
Monahan, who scored 22 goals and 34 points in 75 games with the Flames this past season, has two helpers in seven games at the World Championship.
He and Canada will face Finland in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Mikael Backlund took a huge step in the 2013-14 season in a number of areas of his game and that has continued on in the World Championship. Like Monahan, he has impressed the Flames brass with his two-way play and he has also shown them more of the leadership he displayed in Calgary last season.
"The playing is one thing. I think it's important that when you have a chance to participate, to participate. But to me, the big thing is the role he has taken," Treliving explained. "He's taken another step in terms of taking on a leadership role: being more responsible for wins and losses, playing a more significant role, being a guy who is looked to in key situations, being a guy who is relied on.
"To me, he's carried over to this tournament how his season ended in Calgary. He's been a really, really important player for Sweden ... these are things he can use when he comes back in September and build upon that. I think he's been a dominant player at times for Sweden but all the other things that have gone on around that, I think that is going to be the most important element of this tournament for him."
Through seven games in the round robin portion of the tournament, Backlund has four goals and five points to his name. He has been averaging 17:12 of ice time in Minsk.
Sweden will face Belarus in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
A veteran amongst his teammates at the World Championship, Hudler has acquitted himself very well for the Czech Republic. He has notched one goal, four points, and 13 shots on goal in seven games.
The Czechs will square off against the USA in the quarterfinals.
Sven Baertschi's time at the World Championship came to a disappointing end after just one game after he suffered an upper-body injury.