After two seasons without one, the Vancouver Canucks will have a first round pick this year when they head to Montreal this July.
At 15th overall, they have the chance to boost their prospect pool and hopefully find themselves a gem. I already wrote about which players the Canucks might select at 15 so you can give that a read if you want.
The first round of the NHL Entry Draft has the best prospects in the draft class. As a result, teams are determined to nail their first selections. While some first round picks turn out to be gold, many did not pan out and are labelled “busts.”
The Canucks are no exception. They picked players in the first round that became dynamite and also picked players that ended up being disappointments.
Let’s look back at the last ten first round selections by the Canucks and rank them from worst to best. The top five were easy to rank but not the bottom five. It was very difficult to determine which draft bust was worse.
#10: Brendan Gaunce: 2012 26th overall
Brendan Gaunce managed 68 points in 68 games with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL. That impressed the Canucks scouts and they took him with their first round selection in 2012.
Gaunce was praised for his two-way play as well as his ability to drive to the net. He was also known for being physical.
There was some top-six potential in Gaunce but it never ended up being that way. With the Canucks, he was a depth player and he constantly went back and forth between Vancouver and the AHL’s the Utica Comets.
He was one of those players that rarely made an impact on the ice. When he was noticeable, it was usually for the wrong reasons. Gaunce did manage to play 117 games with the Canucks scoring 6 goals (I’m pretty sure at least four or five of them were deflections.) and managing 9 assists for 15 points.
After leaving Vancouver in 2019, he signed with the Boston Bruins but only played one game with them in the 2019-20 season. But he did manage 18 goals and 19 assists in 52 games with the AHL’s Providence Bruins.
Gaunce spent the 2020-21 season with the SHL’s Växjö Lakers before signing a one-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He managed to play 30 games with the Blue Jackets last season scoring five goals (Including three in seven games) and managing two assists.
It was good to see him revive his NHL career.