The 2014-15 National Hockey League season has been notable for the quantity of quality rookie players entering the league. While names like Aaron Ekblad, Michael Hutchinson, Filip Forsberg and Johnny Gaudreau have dominated the discussion of NHL freshmen, another name has occasionally stepped into the fray, in many ways due to his name recognition.
That’s because in addition to his strong play as a role player for the San Jose Sharks, this player has a name that’s eerily similar to another hot-shot rookie.
Barclay Goodrow and Johnny Gaudreau have a few things in common. They’re both first-year pros who have successfully made the leap from the amateur circuit to the NHL. They’re both 21 years of age. They’re both playing key minutes for teams in the Pacific Division playoff race. And they have names that, when watching telecasts or listening to radio broadcasts of Sharks/Flames contests, can become mixed up. On several occasions, particularly when both players are on the ice, commentators have had to specify which of the two are being addressed.
The similarities generally end there, though.
Compared to his counterpart from Calgary, Goodrow is a completely different animal entirely. Listed as 6’2″ and 215 pounds and hailing from southern Ontario, he went undrafted despite putting up consistently strong numbers with the Ontario Hockey League’s Brampton Battalion. He eventually joined the Sharks organization as a free agent signing last March, as the relocated North Bay Battalion prepared for a playoff run.
“When I came to San Jose’s camp, I think that was my fifth development camp,” recalled Goodrow. “I’ve been to Carolina, Detroit, L.A. and the Rangers development camps. I was at Detroit’s rookie camp, mini-camp last season before I went back to junior.”
Despite some interest in potentially going pro and playing in the American Hockey League, he elected to return to the Battalion – where he had served the previous season as captain, for his over-age year. The move paid off, in the form of a run to the OHL championship series and NHL contracts for Goodrow and three of his OHL teammates.
With a lengthy OHL career in his rear-view mirror, Goodrow went full-bore at Sharks training camp and was able to parlay his hustle and size into a spot on the NHL roster.
“I knew going into training camp that the team was looking to go a bit younger, there’s a couple spots open,” said Goodrow. “If I had a good camp, maybe I could grab one of those spots. I felt I had a really good camp, couple good exhibition games, and then unlucky enough I got hurt the last exhibition game and was out for four weeks. My NHL debut kind-of got put off a bit, but it was really exciting when I was healthy and was able to get into the line-up.”
Goodrow eventually made his NHL debut on October 30, 2014 at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota, an experience he described as “surreal.” He added his first NHL goal at home in San Jose against the Edmonton Oilers on December 9. While he has settled into the rhythm of a regular NHL schedule, he noted how exciting it was to be an NHLer in his first pro season.
“Every day is a new chapter, pretty much,” said Goodrow. “You learn something new every day, but it’s still pretty cool coming to the rink every day, seeing the guys on this team and playing against some of the best players in the world. It’s been a great experience.”