6. C Brendan Gaunce
Acquired: Drafted 26th overall, 2012
Brendan Gaunce spent four season in the OHL and two in the AHL. Aged 21, he finally made his NHL debut and stayed with the big club for 20 games to finish the 2015-16 season. Gaunce was kept of the scoresheet for 19 of those games but looked NHL-ready nonetheless. With a strong training camp this year, he could definitely earn an opening-night roster spot.
Read More: Top 25 Under 25 — #9 Brendan Gaunce
Unfortunately, it is not only about what Gaunce does to earn a spot. The Canucks currently have 11 forwards signed to one-way contracts. Virtanen and Horvat are still on their entry-level deals, but they have a good chance of making the Canucks out of camp as well, which lifts the forward number to 13. With that, Gaunce could easily find himself being the odd man out to start the year.
On the bright side, it looks like the Canucks have solid depth this season. Having NHL-ready prospects in the AHL isn’t a bad thing (well, for the player it is), and Gaunce will certainly get his chance this year. Injuries happen, as we found out last season, and Gaunce should be one of the first call-ups.
Next: Troy Stecher