It's one thing for a head coach to heap praise on his own player. This sort of thing happens, like when Peter Laviolette called Claude Giroux the best player in the world during the 2012 playoffs.
It's another thing entirely, however, for a rival head coach to heap similar praise upon an opponent player, and even more extreme when that statement goes completely against the existing conventional wisdom. Think of what would happen if Craig Berube came out and said that Alex Ovechkin, not Sidney Crosby, is the best player in the NHL. It would turn heads.
A similar statement was made over the weekend on a bit dimmer a stage, but it's good news for the Philadelphia Flyers in any case.
RPI coach Seth Appert just said Shayne Gostisbehere is the best player in the country and that includes BC forward Johnny Gaudreau.— Jeff Cox (@JeffCoxSBNation) November 17, 2013
Appert made the statement after RPI's 4-1 loss at the hands of Shayne Gostisbehere and the Union College Dutchmen on Saturday night. RPI suffered back-to-back losses against Union, their biggest rival, on the weekend.
Gostisbehere was a huge piece of those two Dutchmen victories, taking eight (!) of his teams 32 shots on goal and registering two assists in Friday's 4-3 decision. He added six shots on Saturday night and two of them went in the net, the third and fourth goals in that 4-1 victory. Ghost leads the nation in points per game for defenseman with 12 in 11 games so far.
I haven't seen Gostisbehere play at all this season, and only saw him twice in college action and a few times in World Junior play last year, so I don't have the best look at him. But Chris Peters from United States of Hockey had this to say about the junior:
Gostisbehere is an elite skater, who moves about as well as anyone in the college game forwards and backwards. Though his offense really jumps out, I think his defensive game is underrated. He's not physical, but plays a very heady, active game in his own end and is the furthest thing from a liability.
He's one of those defensemen that can really control the pace of a game and make his team a lot better when he's on the ice. Should he continue this kind of point production for the Dutchmen, I think he'd have to be in the Hobey Baker mix, for which there could be a crowded field.
Gaudreau, a South Jersey native who grew up playing at Hollydell Ice Arena, is widely regarded as the most talented player in NCAA hockey today. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award last year and is the favorite to win it again this year. He's only a junior. I saw him in person last week, and well ... he's the tiny guy who carries the puck around in circles in this GIF. Very good at the hockey.
BC fans are particularly salty about Appert's proclamation, but
BC fans are elitest jerks regardless of who actually earns the incredibly subjective honor of being the "best player in college hockey," it's safe to say the Flyers have a pretty special prospect in Shayne Gostisbehere.