Yesterday, it was announced that Adam Gaudette has been called up from the Utica Comets. His call-up will help fill one of the two spots created by injuries to Elias Pettersson and Jay Beagle – but can he make the most of this opportunity?
Vancouver Canucks fans were delighted when Adam Gaudette put pen to paper last season and began his NHL career with a scoreless-but-promising five game stint as the season drew to a close.
From the initial fear that Gaudette would not even sign for the team, and instead wait until his rights expired to allow him to sign as a free agent elsewhere (aka the Jimmy Vesey maneuver), Canucks fans saw a lot in Gaudette’s game, enough to have nearly every Canucks fan penciling him in for a roster spot this season.
While it didn’t work out that way to begin the season, Gaudette’s demotion to Utica gave him an excellent opportunity to continue to improve his game, and to be ready for when the inevitable injury curse beset the Canucks.
That took just five games, after the much-talked-about hit by Mike Matheson on Elias Pettersson and the less-talked-about, but still momentum-killing, broken arm sustained by Jay Beagle. The team will miss Pettersson on its 11th-rated 26.3% power play, but it will equally miss Beagle on its 7th-rated 88% penalty killing unit.
So, can Adam Gaudette step up and make a statement? He is likely to play at least twice, which is the bare minimum time EP40 will miss, and likely several more on top of that. Let’s take a look at his fledgling NHL career to date, and also how he’s started the season in Utica.
2017/18 season: 5 GP, 0 points (Vancouver Canucks)
While zero points in five games doesn’t really highlight his offensive potential, Gaudette had a hectic end to the season and his audition was more to help integrate him with the franchise, and to get him up to speed with how much work it would take to stick with the Canucks, rather than to see him fill the net.
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The day after his Northeastern team were beaten in the NCAA Frozen Four, Gaudette signed his ELC with the Canucks.
He was awarded the Hobey Baker for best player in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey, and played for the Canucks on the same day as the award ceremony, in a shootout loss to the Oilers.
In his five games, he was a +2, and while he wasn’t taking many draws, he went 6-for-16 for a 37.5% FO%.
As a young guy making his way in the league, there’s plenty of time to improve on face-offs, particularly as he has Manny Malhotra to work with in Vancouver.
With his offensive smarts from college hockey (he won the Hobey Baker with 30G-30A in 38 GP), we know he can put the puck away. These were five solid games, and gave him a taste of what is to come.
2018/19 season: 4 GP, 2G + 2A = 4 points (Utica Comets)
On a highly-competitive Comets team, on which Reid Boucher (remember him?) has scored a remarkable 8 goals in the team’s first 5 games, Gaudette is playing at a point-per-game pace. With a lack of advanced stats for AHL games we’re not able to delve deep into his statistical performance, but here is what people watching him in Utica are saying:
So just as Canucks fans wanted, Gaudette has been playing top six minutes, and playing both PP and PK to good effect. This is exactly what we all wanted when we found out he wasn’t making the Canucks, and playing with Darren Archibald and Jonathan Dahlen has been excellent preparation for his season debut with the Canucks.
If Gaudette scores while he’s here, that’s great – but he’s going to come here primarily to keep the score down, not to add to it. And he’s going to do a great job of it.
Going by last season’s audition, Gaudette figures to receive somewhat sheltered minutes against the Penguins and Jets, which will help him settle back into the faster pace of the NHL.
Over the first two games all he needs to do is play steady hockey – keep it tight in his own end, and try to make the right plays offensively. Any scoring contribution he makes would be a bonus, although I do fancy him to tally his first career point in one of these games.
Past that – and assuming he’s kept to play 4C in place of Jay Beagle, and Pettersson returns to 2C – he’s going to have to work hard on the PK, and keep chances to a minimum. Any opportunity he has to develop some chemistry with Markus Granlund, Tim Schaller and Brandon Sutter should be taken now, as he figures to see a lot of those guys if Coach Green entrusts him with one of his four key PK assignments.
The future is very bright for Adam Gaudette. These next few games could be the making of him.
Question for TCWers:
What expectations do YOU have for Adam Gaudette during his call-up? And what does he have to do to stick with the team once Pettersson and Beagle return?