By Allan Muir
A Calgary radio station reported, and Boston College has confirmed, that Eagles stars Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold will turn pro and make their NHL debuts with the Calgary Flames on Sunday.
Both players became eligible to sign with the NHL team after BC was eliminated from the Frozen Four by Union College on Thursday night. Gaudreau's three-year entry leave deal has a reported annual average value of $1.85 million; Arnold was given two years at $900k per.
Arnold, a fourth-round selection of the Flames in 2010, was expected to turn pro as a graduating senior, but the addition of Gaudreau will surely catch the attention of Calgary's fans. The 20-year-old forward led the nation with 36 goals and 80 points as a junior and has won the Hobey Baker Award as the country's top player.
This is a significant signing for the Flames, and not just because Gaudreau is their most intriguing prospect. He could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer had he chosen not to sign with Calgary, and there likely would have been a number of suitors willing to woo him if he'd waited. But this is a deal that works out well for both sides. He gets a clear path to the NHL with a rebuilding team, and Calgary gets him under contract ... even if they're not quite sure yet what they're getting. Gaudreau is as skilled as any prospect outside the NHL, but at just 5'-7" and 150 pounds, there are questions as to whether the 2011 fourth-rounder will ever be effective at the highest level of the game.
His quest to prove that he belongs will begin Sunday in Vancouver.