The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a youth movement. So, let’s take a look at the club’s top youngsters!
If the Vancouver Canucks want to make their ‘rebuild on the fly’ work, they need a strong foundation of young roster players. We all know the Bo Horvats and Ben Huttons of the team, but what’s after that? How are things for the AHL Utica Comets and what can we expect from the Canucks’ next crop of youngsters?
To answer those questions, our staff ranked all signed Vancouver Canucks players under the age of 25. After compiling a list of the top 10 Canucks prospects recently, this is all about who can help today. And guess what, the Canucks only have a total of 26 players under 25 signed and playing in North America right now.
Today we take a look at No. 9, former first-rounder Brendan Gaunce.
#9 – Brendan Gaunce
Position: Center, Left Wing
Team: Utica Comets (AHL)
NHL Experience: 20 Games
How He Got Here
The 6-foot-2 Sudbury, Ontario native began his career playing for the Markham Waxers Minor Midget AAA squad, of which he was the captain. In 2010-11, Gaunce played for the Belleville Bulls of the OHL, where he would remain for the next three seasons until he was traded to the Erie Otters. Gaunce put up some big numbers during his time in the OHL, compiling 236 points in 258 games (103 goals, 133 assists).
More from Editorials
- Which team won the Bo Horvat trade?
- What to expect from newcomers Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty
- Back to the future: How the skate uniforms became a regular Canucks’ feature night
- Canucks kick off 2023 with disappointing 6-2 loss to Islanders
- 2nd period penalty trouble sinks Canucks in 4-2 loss against Winnipeg
Before his abrupt trade to the Otters, Gaunce was captain of the Bulls for two seasons. In his final OHL season, Gaunce skated for the OHL All-Stars in the Junior Super Series.
Gaunce also represented Canada twice in the World Juniors: once in 2010-11 when he tallied three points in five games en route to a gold medal, and again in 2011-12, when he had four points in seven games, and won the bronze medal. Additionally, he played in the CHL Top Prospects game once.
In 2012, Gaunce was drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft, 26th overall by the Vancouver Canucks. After two seasons in the AHL with the Utica Comets, Gaunce’s point total stands at 67 points in 120 games. Last season, Gaunce was given a shot to play on the NHL squad but registered only a single point in 20 games.
Where He Is Today
Gaunce is likely working hard this offseason to prepare himself for a good camp. He’ll be looking to lock down a spot on the Canucks’ roster now that he can play center or left wing but it’s likely that he’ll start the 2016-17 season in the AHL once more. Unless he makes an outstanding impression on the Canucks’ management and coaching staff.
Gaunce’s size and strength could put him ahead of Markus Granlund on the Canucks’ center depth chart and there may also be a spot on left wing for him, depending on how the roster shakes out. Regardless of whether he begins the season in Utica or not, Gaunce will be looking to make every opportunity count and keep developing the way he has been.
Where He’s Headed
In the very near future, Gaunce will finally secure a spot on the Canucks’ roster. It’ll be up to him to perform well and force the Canucks to make room for him with the big squad. He can play left wing now but his real value is as a strong, tall center who can muscle out opponents in the face-off dots.
Thus far, Gaunce has put up decent numbers in Utica but not anything close to the offensive production he displayed in the OHL. One or two more seasons developing in the AHL won’t hurt Gaunce, but the Canucks may call on his services sooner than that. Gaunce’s two-way game, as well as his physicality, make him an attractive option in the system for GM Jim Benning and the Canucks’ coaching staff.
One of the more NHL-ready prospects in the Canucks’ system, it seems like Gaunce will soon be knocking on the door, if he isn’t already. He had 38 points in 46 games last season with the Comets last season. If he can build on those point totals while continuing to show his defensive awareness and leadership in the locker room, Gaunce can be a fixture up the middle for the Canucks for a long time.