The nation’s leading scorer fulfilled his childhood dream yesterday, as Huskies junior forward Adam Gaudette signed his first NHL contract with the Vancouver Canucks. The deal is a three year, entry-level contract, the first year of which will be burned as Gaudette reports directly to Vancouver and will likely make his NHL debut this Thursday. He will wear #88 with the Canucks this season, doubling up his now-famous #8 on the back of his Northeastern jersey.
Excited to have signed my first NHL contract with the @Canucks !! Can’t thank @GoNUmhockey , the coaches, teammates, and staff enough for the past 3 years! Once a husky always a husky!! Can’t wait to get out to the west coast!! 🐾🐳 pic.twitter.com/zQ5q0rDLTi
In the world of college hockey, one player can cause a seismic shift in the culture around a program. One player can elevate a program to new heights by contributing immediately as a freshman, or by making those around him better, or via leading by example every practice and every game, encouraging those around him to get better. Adam Gaudette was all of these and more for the Northeastern Huskies. In three years, Gaudette launched himself to heights seldom seen on Huntington Avenue, enthralling Huskies fans with his deadly shot, his never-ending hunger to improve, and his unmitigated pride in playing for the university. Gaudette is often compared to his coach, Jim Madigan, who also wore #8 for the Huskies, and it is often said that no one loves Northeastern University as much as Coach Madigan. I think it is fair to say that no one loved playing for and representing Northeastern University as much as Adam Gaudette did.
Gaudette committed to Northeastern in the summer of 2014 while he was still at Thayer Academy, a prep school in Braintree, Massachusetts- Gaudette’s hometown. He was a star player for Thayer, piling on 67 points during his final season in only 27 games. This type of commitment was rare territory for Madigan and his staff. Traditionally, the local prep superstars would be shoo-ins to attend Boston College or Boston University, while Northeastern continued to play third-fiddle. But not Gaudette. He committed to Northeastern, and kept his commitment through a solid year in the USHL (30 points in 57 games, hurt for part of the season). When he arrived on campus, he was the gem of that recruiting class, the golden child who would be counted on to contribute immediately.
And contribute immediately he did. Ultimately settling on a line with Dylan Sikura and Mike McMurtry, Gaudette helped create a balanced Northeastern offensive attack. He played in all 40 games that season and ending the season with 30 points (12 goals), the fifth-best scorer on the team. He recorded his first collegiate point against Minnesota on October 24, and scored his first collegiate goal against Vermont a week later. Where he really worked his magic was after the calendar turned to 2016; from January 2nd through the end of the season, he recorded 25 of his 30 points that season, including goals in both the Hockey East Semifinals and the Hockey East Finals against Boston College and UMass-Lowell, respectively, helping the Huskies to the Hockey East title. His goal against BC in particular was the type of goal that Northeastern would come to expect from him- in the right place at the right time, tapping the puck into an open BC net just before the period expired. His penchant for timely goals would be relied upon many more times over the next two years. Gaudette also tallied two goals and an assist against Harvard in the Beanpot semifinals, finishing his freshman year with four goals and one assist in four games at TD Garden, a scoring outburst that would only get more profound as he spent more time at the Bruins’ home arena.
Sophomore year saw the departure of a number of offensive contributors from the Hockey East-winning squad, including forwards Kevin Roy (now playing in the Anaheim Ducks’ system) and McMurtry (now with the Calgary Flames’ system). Their departures left voids in production that the Huskies would need to fill, and Gaudette was among those who stepped up to fill them in spades. The 2016-17 season saw breakouts from Zach Aston-Reese, Dylan Sikura, and Gaudette, who posted 52 points (26 goals, 26 assists) in 37 games played. Gaudette was rewarded for this breakout by being a semifinalist for the Walter Brown Award, and being named to the Hockey East Third All Star Team. He set the program single-season record for powerplay goals (16), finished ninth in the country in scoring (third among sophomores), and his 52 points was the 18th-best individual season in Huskies’ history. He factored into the scoring in 27 of the 37 games he played, and had point streaks stretching a career-best twelve games. Unfortunately the season came to an abrupt end when the Huskies were eliminated in the Hockey East Quarterfinals by Boston University, but this bitter defeat only served to motivate Gaudette to return for another year on Huntington Avenue, seeking to avenge their defeat and outperform the high bar he had set for himself during the season.
Gaudette returned to Matthews Arena for his junior season as one of the Huskies’ Big Three in a line with Sikura and captain Nolan Stevens. Together, they would go on to have one of the most dominant seasons in Northeastern history, as well as reign as arguably the top line in the whole NCAA. Together they would rack up 156 points, including 76 goals, 36 of which were on the powerplay. Gaudette paced both his team and the nation in scoring, an even 60 points distributed as 30 goals and 30 assists. Gaudette recorded his first collegiate hat trick on October 27th against UMass-Lowell, and recorded his 100th collegiate point on November 28th against Connecticut. He would go on to win the Walter Brown Award as the best American-born player in New England, the Hockey East Player of the Year Award, multiple months where he was awarded National Player of the Month, and was voted as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, where he is considered the favorite to win. The Hobey Hat Trick will be announced March 29th, and we expect Gaudette to be among the three names announced, giving Northeastern its second straight season with a Hobey Hat Trick finalist.
Gaudette registered a point in 27 out of 38 games this season, and launched himself into the Northeastern record books along the way, with some of his accolades including: most powerplay goals in a career (32), the ninth-most goals scored in one season (30), and the tenth-most points in a single season (60). He finished his Huskies career with 142 points, good for 16th all-time at Northeastern. He is one of only ten players to register 100 points in two seasons or fewer, the 18th player to record 40 or more points in consecutive seasons, and the 16th player to record multiple 20 goal seasons. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment, however, was his performance in the Beanpot final against Boston University, where he recorded a hat trick to give Northeastern its first Beanpot title in 30 years, a performance that will rank at the top of Huskies fans lists for years and decades to come. That game showed everything that Adam Gaudette is as a player- deftly skilled in the offensive zone, an assassin on the powerplay, a tireless workhorse on the defensive side of the game, and a leader with enough emotion to power an entire arena as they cheered their team to victory. After scoring his third goal, an empty-netter where he chased down a BU defensemen nearly 200 feet to strip him of the puck, the raw emotion Adam showed as he celebrated encapsulated exactly what every fan who has watched him and this program felt in that moment (Seen at 9:05 below). Gaudette was rewarded for his efforts as the Beanpot MVP, the program’s first since Kevin Roy, who also had the most recent Beanpot hat trick until that night.
After the game, Gaudette was asked about being snubbed from the US Olympic Hockey Team. He replied “I’d rather win a Beanpot to be honest.” And he meant it. Because Adam Gaudette loves Northeastern University. Adam Gaudette set a goal when he arrived her in 2015, and he worked to achieve it. He helped change the course of Northeastern hockey with his work ethic, his endless thirst for getting better every day. One player can change the direction of a hockey program. Adam Gaudette was that player for Northeastern. The local kid, who grew up dreaming about playing in the Beanpot and playing in front of his family, chose to attend Northeastern instead of the traditional Boston schools. That decision altered the course of his life, his school’s life, and the lives of us who follow this school forever for the better. We’ve seen the pride Adam has when he is wearing the Huskies logo, with red and white NORTHEASTERN draped across his chest. After goals he would tug at the jersey, signaling “This is what it’s about.” Because for Adam Gaudette, Northeastern hockey became family. It became home. It became his passion, his obsession, his motivation. And the program has been changed forever for it.
Very few players who pass through any institution will ever get to be an answer for “who was their best player ever?” Fans from different eras will have different answers. But for my money, factoring in his individual on-ice success, the program’s unparalleled success when he was a member of it, and the passion he has shown while playing for this school, Adam Gaudette is the greatest hockey player in the history of Northeastern University. Few players get to be considered “the greats” of their program. Fewer still get to be called “legends.” Adam Gaudette has surpassed that level. Adam Gaudette will forever be immortal in Northeastern hockey circles. Fans young and old will reminisce and tell stories about his Beanpot hat trick; his buzzer-beating goal against Boston College; his unstoppable ability to pick the corners of the net from any angle on the ice; his lethal one-timer from the left face-off circle on the powerplay; his relentlessness on the forecheck; and most of all, his love for being a Northeastern Husky, wearing #8 on his back and “Northeastern” on his chest. He loved playing in front of the DogHouse, in front of his family, and in front of his school.
I used to think there would never be another Kevin Roy at Northeastern in my lifetime. Now I am convinced that there will never be another Adam Gaudette. Watching him from the balcony of Matthews Arena has been an absolute treasure the last three seasons. Adam is ready for the National Hockey League. When he arrives and debuts this week, he will have a legion of fans decked out in red and black supporting him.
One player can change the course of a hockey program. Adam Gaudette was that player for Northeastern. Now we are all ready for him to be that player for Vancouver.