Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames has played 49 games this season, recorded 37 points and provided countless moments of excitement for fans of the upstart Flames. There is one glaring zero on his stat line — the former Boston College Eagle, has yet to take a penalty in his brief, but impressive NHL career.
For starters the under-sized rookie is far from an “enforcer” meaning he won’t be picking up many majors and surely won’t be dropping the gloves anytime soon. However, to play almost 50 games in the best league in the world without recording so much as a hooking minor is impressive to say the least. By comparison, no other NHL player has played more than 20 games without recording a penalty. A lot of it has to do with the truly amazing skill and hockey sense Gaudreau has meaning where other players would take a penalty to prevent a scoring chance, Gaudreau can successfully make defensive plays without committing a penalty.
The closest an NHL player has come to going a full season without recording a single penalty was Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche last season, before he took a minor on a technicality-playing with a broken stick-72 games into the year. While it’s a certainty that at some point Gaudreau will take his first penalty, there’s no guaranteeing it’ll be this year meaning he just may better O’Reilly to start his NHL career.
With the Flames playing some surprisingly good hockey and Gaudreau being one of the team’s best players/league’s best rookies this could be a season to remember in Calgary. The Flames could make the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and Gaudreau could realistically be the first Flame to win the Calder Trophy since Sergey Makarov in 1990. Doing all these remarkable things without ever putting his team at a disadvantage makes what Gaudreau is doing truly impressive.