Johnny Gaudreau is headed to Vegas this weekend as the Calgary Flames lone representative for the 2022 All Star Game. It’s his sixth All Star appearance and anyone who has watched a few Flames games this season will know what an impact he’s had on the team’s success this year.
While it’s obvious from the eye test that Gaudreau has been on another level this season, a look at the numbers gives us some additional insight into his play. Let’s dive in to see how Gaudreau’s performance through the first half of the season stacks up against the league and his own performance in previous seasons. To do so, we’ll use statistics from Natural Stat Trick along with model projections from Puck Luck Analytics unless otherwise noted.
Even Strength Dominance
Many wondered how Gaudreau would fare under head coach Darryl Sutter when the stern bench boss was hired last season. With Sutter a staunch supporter of strong defensive hockey, it looked like Gaudreau’s offensive flair may not be an ideal fit. In hindsight, that couldn’t be further from the truth, as Gaudreau is putting together the best season of his career playing a strong 200 foot game.
Gaudreau’s playmaking ability has been his signature throughout his career, but he’s taken it to another level this season. Through 40 games this season, Gaudreau leads the league in 5v5 primary assist rate and it’s over double the projection from the Puck Luck model. At his current pace of 2.06 A1/60, it’s also nearly double his next best season from 2016-2017, when he put up 1.17 A1/60.
It’s not that Gaudreau has simply focused more on playmaking this season either. His 5v5 goal rate also exceeds the Puck Luck projection and sits in the top quartile of the league. He’s shooting 15.19% at 5v5, which is bound to regress over the long term. However, with a shooting percentage over 11% in five of his seven full NHL seasons, we shouldn’t expect a huge decrease.
While he’s been piling up points at 5v5, Gaudreau has also bought into Sutter’s system and may be playing the strongest two-way game of his career. His on-ice xGA/60 sits around the 25th percentile league wide. It’s not been uncommon to see #13 making a defensive play on the backcheck this season and the attention to detail on the defensive side of the puck is no doubt helping his offensive numbers.
Together with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, Gaudreau’s strong 5v5 play has helped make the Flames top line one of the best in the NHL. According to Money Puck’s line tool, the Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk line ranks 2nd in xGF% (63.7%) and 1st in GF% (79.5%) among lines that have played at least 200 minutes together. Simply put, they have been dominant.
Special Teams Impact
Gaudreau continues to feature on the Flames top power-play unit this season. He’s picked up two goals and eight helpers on the man advantage to add to his overall season totals. He’s shooting just 4.08% on the power-play this season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him convert at a higher rate in the second half.