PHILADELPHIA — Johnny Gaudreau has been talked about all season as he continued to rack up point after point. He’s impossible to ignore on the ice and he has been the recipient of many accolades for his prolific offensive play.
On Friday night, the 20-year-old Boston College junior left wing earned the most prestigious individual honor in college hockey: the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in the country.
Gaudreau tallied 80 points in 40 games this season, most in the nation. His 31-game point streak tied Paul Kariya (Maine) for the longest in Hockey East history.
But that wasn’t even the biggest news of the day. It turns out that Gaudreau, a native of Carney’s Point, N.J., played his last collegiate game Thursday when the Eagles lost to Union in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center.
He and linemate Bill Arnold, whose senior season ended Thursday, both came to terms on entry-level contracts with the Calgary Flames and will be on the company jet with their families to fly to Vancouver, where they will be available to play against the Canucks Sunday.
Gaudreau’s contract is a three-year, two-way entry-level deal with an NHL base of $832,500, a signing bonus of $92,500 per season, with an average annual value of $1.85 million, incorporating performance bonuses.
Arnold signed a two-year, two-way entry-level contract with an annual base salary of $810,000 and a signing bonus per year of $90,000 with an average annual value of $900,000.
As much as Gaudreau was grateful and honored to win the Hobey Baker, bidding BC goodbye is very hard.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “It was a special three years here and I’m going to miss it a lot. I’ll have my family there and I’ll have Billy’s family there, who I’m really close to. It’s not me alone. It’s going to be a special experience.’’
Having Gaudreau and Arnold go together is a big benefit.
“It helps Johnny immensely,” said BC coach Jerry York. “Billy is a senior and it’s a natural thing for Billy to leave, but going to the same club [is good].
“He’s a special player,’’ York said of Gaudreau.
Calgary drafted Gaudreau in the fourth round (No. 104 overall) in 2011 and he leaves BC as the No. 10 scorer in school history with 175 points in 119 contests.
As a freshman, Gaudreau had 44 points in 44 games as the Eagles won the national championship.
Last year, when Gaudreau was one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker, he generated 51 points in 35 games.
As disappointed as the Eagles were to end this season short of another NCAA crown, it turned out to be a special campaign for Gaudreau and his linemates.
With a young team, York hesitated to put Gaudreau on a line with Arnold and senior right wing Kevin Hayes, not wanting to have all his eggs in one basket.
But when it became clear that freshman wingers Ryan Fitzgerald and Austin Cangelosi were developing into productive players alongside senior center Patrick Brown, York pulled the trigger on the big line and put them out there Dec. 6 against New Hampshire.
From there, the trio’s chemistry was increasingly evident. The Eagles went on a tear, going unbeaten in 19 games (17-0-2).
During that span, Gaudreau had 38 points, 17 of them goals; Hayes had 29 points, 14 of them goals; and Arnold had 23 points, 9 of them goals. That’s a combined 90 points.
The Hobey Baker completes a clean sweep of individual awards for Gaudreau this season. He also won Hockey East Player of the Year for the second straight time, the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born player in Division 1 in New England, the Leonard Fowle Award given to the top player in New England, and the Herb Gallagher Award as the top forward in New England.
Gaudreau is the third BC player to win the Hobey Baker, after David Emma in 1991 and Mike Mottau in 2000.
St. Lawrence senior forward Greg Carey and St. Cloud State senior forward Nic Dowd were the other two Hobey Hat Trick finalists.