Johnny Gaudreau, Patch Alber

Flames prospect evokes memories of Gionta and Gerbe

Calgary Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau (2011 fourth-round pick) has made a name for himself already in college hockey. Being a major part of Boston College’s national championship winning team last season in just his freshman year has put him on the map.

At 5’6″ 140 pounds, he might be mistaken for someone a lot younger, but he brings back memories of previous diminutive BC standouts Brian Gionta and Nathan Gerbe. Gaudreau hopes he can be a fraction of the player they are.

“The history of BC hockey players with some of the small guys… I just want to be like them and play like them and have a career like they have. You’ve got to have some influences out there and they’re definitely some of mine.”

Last season, Gaudreau had 21 goals and 23 assists in just his first season at BC. If he keeps building on numbers like that, he’ll have people thinking he’s the heir to Chris Kreider’s throne. Gaudreau says he learned a lot from the New York Rangers’ playoff star. Rooting for Kreider and the Rangers while in Boston proved to be a bit tricky.

“Yeah, it was a little awkward,” Gaudreau confesses. “I’m more of a Flyers and Calgary kind of fan since they drafted me. Unfortunately they didn’t make it, but I was cheering for Kreider and happy he did so well.”

If things break right for him and the Flames, maybe he can make his own splash in the NHL.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.