Boston College teammates Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold signed entry-level contracts with the Calgary Flames on Friday following the conclusion of their NCAA careers. The signings were announced after Gaudreau was named the winner of the Hobey Baker Award, given each year to the top player in Division I.
Gaudreau, a fourth-round pick (No. 104) in the 2011 NHL Draft, led the NCAA with 36 goals, 44 assists and 80 points. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound junior forward had a goal and two assists Thursday, when the Eagles lost 5-4 to Union College in the semifinals at the Frozen Four.
"An extremely dangerous and exciting player in college," Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke said in a media conference call after the signing. "He is a small player, but there are small players who are successful in our league. I think he's got all the ingredients that he's going to need to be successful. If you can play in our League at this size, I think Johnny Gaudreau can do it."
Arnold, a senior, was a fourth-round pick (No. 8) by the Flames in 2010. He had 14 goals and 53 points for BC this season, much of which was spent on a line centering for Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes, the Chicago Blackhawks' first pick (No. 24) in 2010.
Burke said Arnold projects as a center but could also play wing in the NHL, though he may need time in the minor leagues.
"He's got a high hockey IQ, a really good work ethic, good puck skills," Burke said. This is a good guy that has some grit in his game and this is a guy I think has a chance to be a quality third- or fourth-line player in the National Hockey League. He may well need some time."
However, Burke said neither player is guaranteed a roster spot next season.
"What I'm trying to do is be realistic here. These are two young men that have a good chance at being good NHL players, but they've got some work to do," he said. "They're not going to be handed anything."
Gaudreau signed a three-year entry-level two-way contract commencing immediately with an annual NHL base salary of $832,500, a signing bonus of $92,500 each year, and an average annual value of $1,850,000, incorporating performance bonuses.
Arnold got a two-year entry-level two-way contract commencing immediately with an annual NHL base salary of $810,000, a signing bonus of $90,000 each year, and an average annual value of $900,000.
Both players will report to the Flames and are expected to be in the lineup for Calgary's season finale against the Vancouver Canucks.
"I don't expect much. It's hard," Burke said of dressing Gaudreau and Arnold for the game in Vancouver. They're going from one level of hockey to a completely different level of hockey. I won't be surprised if they're standing around staring at the traffic and trying to figure out how to merge. It's not unusual in a kid's first game for them to be star struck and wait too long to do things."