In a league that’s only getting bigger, 5-foot-9 forward Johnny Gaudreau is hoping to be an exception. He slipped to the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but his days of being overlooked are long behind him.
Gaudreau made a name for himself at Boston College and wrapped up his NCAA career by claiming the Hobey Baker Award. He also made his NHL debut on April 13 and chipped in a goal.
His biggest challenge is still ahead of him though as he needs to prove that he can make it at the NHL level. To help him with that, he’s reached out to other undersized forwards, including Martin St. Louis.
“I’ve just got to make sure I follow in their footsteps and do what they’ve been doing,” Gaudreau told NHL.com.
“They said you need to be strong in your legs, definitely work out your legs. And you don’t need to be too big in your upper body because you won’t be able to stickhandle that well. Just a lot of great pointers from a lot of great guys and I really appreciate it.
“It’s just doing the little things right, keep working out, making sure I’m skating and getting stronger. Obviously I’m going to get stronger. I have to make sure I keep working out and working hard.”
Like Gaudreau, St. Louis was initially dismissed by NHL teams, but he eventually found his footing and became one of the best players of his generation. Gaudreau was five when St. Louis made his NHL debut, so for most of Gaudreau’s life, he’s stood as an example of what small forwards can accomplish.