The Verdict: Gaunce Should Stick with VAN
Alright. What did Jim Benning, Trevor Linden, and Willie Desjardins all preach throughout the season? Staying competitive, being able to win every night, and injecting youth into the lineup.
Brendan Gaunce does just that. Better than Linden Vey does and better than the other call-ups can do — at least the management says so. Coming back to this quote:
If someone is NHL-ready, play him in the NHL. Don’t play Bo Horvat with a guy like Linden Vey who was just about traded out for virtually nothing, who now has no reason to put his heart and soul into this organization. Play an eager and overripe Gaunce instead.
The thing about Gaunce is that he is a checker. No one else in the Canucks organization is a checking centreman. He thrives in the bottom-six role. Not all prospects have to turn out like Hunter Shinkaruk and Jonathan Drouin, you know. For a team to be successful in the NHL, it needs good scorers as well as good checkers — Gaunce is a good checker.
Willie won’t have to use Vey as a checker anymore with Emerson Etem. Gaunce fills that 4C role perfectly at this moment. And Alex Grenier too. He is a massive frame who can get really hungry for the puck as Vancouver saw during his brief call-up. These two should be called up for an extended period of time. After all, Grenier is the oldest of the RFA bunch.
Dear Benning, play this Gaunce who plays your style of game. Everything you preach — a north-south game, a two-way responsibility, and the strength for the NHL — is in him. If you want to stick close to your plans of “having the best chance to win night in, night out,” then play Gaunce over Vey. The former is better suited for the role that you need in your club.
Then let him play it out. See how it goes. If he struggles badly, call someone else up like a Zalewski or a Grenier. You have plenty of options. Just pick one and run with it.