The Vancouver Canucks are not expected to qualify the contract of Brendan Gaunce. Gaunce, a former first-round pick, will likely get a fresh start with another organization.
When Brendan Gaunce was drafted in the first round at 26th overall of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he was instantly one of the top prospects of a then-competitive Vancouver Canucks organization, who didn’t have many talented prospects in their system at the time.
Gaunce scored 28 goals and picked up 68 points total in as many games in his draft year, and his draft plus one year, he scored 33 goals and finished with 60 points in 60 games with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. He looked like a promising young talent who could score goals — exactly what the Canucks needed going forward.
Unfortunately for both Gaunce and the Canucks, that goalscoring ability didn’t transfer over to the NHL level. Gaunce had some very promising seasons with the Utica Comets in the AHL over the years. In 2015-16, Gaunce potted 17 goals and picked up 21 assists in 48 games with the Comets. However, in 20 games with the Canucks in that same year, Gaunce only had one goal and zero assists.
If Gaunce was going to make the team out of training camp this past season, it was going to be in the spot that Tyler Motte ended up getting. After the way Motte was hustling in camp, it was almost as if the coaching staff had no choice but to give him a spot in the lineup. As a result, Gaunce was sent back down to the AHL.
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This season with the Comets, Gaunce picked up 38 points in 60 games, and three points in as many games with the Canucks. That’s why it’s a tad bit surprising to see the Canucks appear to be moving on from Gaunce. This from Sportsnet650’s Rick Dhaliwal:
"Been told, don’t expect the Canucks to qualify the contract of F Brendan Gaunce. The former 1st round pick in 2012 can use a change of scenery and fresh start elsewhere."
Although they’re not qualifying Gaunce, it’s a tad bit different than the situation with Derrick Pouliot, who, as we found out just a few days ago, will also not be qualified by the Canucks. With Pouliot however, it appears that the team wants to avoid him completely, but with Gaunce, they could very well be attempting to avoid arbitration and still plan on re-signing him to a contract come July 1st.
Last year, the team did exactly that with Pouliot. The Canucks didn’t qualify his contract, then re-signed him to a one-year contract, giving him what now appears to be his final chance with the team.
We’ll have to wait and see what the team decides to do, but with the maximum 50 contracts on the books at the end of last season, the team could be getting ready to cut ties with more players than just Gaunce and Pouliot.