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Canuck Player Autopsy: Brendan Gaunce

This 2012 1st round pick needs to step it up next year or the Canucks faithful (unfaithful?) will turn on him quick.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Who Is This Guy?

Position: Centre/LW

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 207 lbs

Born: March 25th, 1994 in Sudbury, Ontario. He was drafted in the first round (26th overall) of the 2012 draft by your Vancouver Canucks.

What Did He Do ?

Gaunce went through some changes in his last year of junior and first year of pro hockey with the Comets. Once a center, Gaunce has moved over to the wing because of his lack of foot speed at the center position.

Here are two different scouting reports on Gaunce.

Eliteprospects.com

A big, strong two-way forward with good net drive and a high level of compete. His speed should be noted, as he constantly uses it to gain leverage on defenders. Propels himself into hits, and is very effective in a bang-and-crash role. Very good positionally and always recognizes where the puck is and where it will be in the next few seconds. Has natural offensive instincts around the net and conceals the puck well against goalies in close. Defensively, very aware and active; uses the boards to his advantage and actively takes away shooting and passing lanes. Transitioning to offence quickly is something that he needs to work on, as he can get caught up in his own zone for a prolonged amount of time.

Hockey futures

Gaunce is a bit of an in-betweener as a prospect. He has the size and body type of a power forward but doesn't play a combative style. He has been able to put points up at the junior level when surrounded by talented players, and has a big shot, but he is not a pure scorer and his skating and technical skills are not considered elite. To succeed at the pro level he will need to pay keen attention to the defensive zone and win most of the puck battles along the boards and in small spaces. He has shown some promise in his first pro season but is still a project at this point.

Brendan’s Utica numbers were very good. In 46 games played he had 17 goals and 21 assists. 13 of those goals were 5vs5 and 2 more came on the PK. Brendan’s 14.5% shooting percentage was very impressive. It is very easy to see why he was called up twice this year.

Here are his stats with Van

bgst1

bgs2

Was He Any Good?

How do I answer this? No? Yes? He could be?

One goal in 20 games is not good. It’s just not. You can pull out all the advanced stats and video to show he is playing his position well and has good hockey sense, but in the end, he had one goal.

And here is that goal.

Gaunce played a lot of his shifts with Virtanen and Bo, so it might be understandable that Brendan assumed the role of playmaker with two guys that can shoot the puck. But his 0 assists would suggest that he wasn’t very good at that either.

What Did We Like?

Potential. We all like that right? Can’t teach size and aggressiveness and he has some of that. Gaunce can hit and seems to keep himself in check. But it would be nice to see him stick his big body in front of the net more often and get some garbage goals to boost his confidence up.

I so want to write more here, but there were quite a few games where I barely noticed he was dressed, let alone on the ice. Trying to be defensively responsible on a 4th line as a rookie can sure lead to some unnoticeable nights.

What Did We Hate?

You mean besides the one point performance this year? It’s hard to say. Obviously he has to become more of a factor in the offensive end. Use his physicality to win board battles and have the ability to pop out front for a shot. He has to want the puck like Bo and Jake do. I don’t know if center will ever be in his future with the Canucks but Gaunce would be wise to improve on his faceoffs so he can get extra ice time when injuries hit.

So, What Now?

Good question. Let’s play the assumption game. Let’s assume that the first three lines are set. The fourth line is up in the air and it seems that’s where the auditions are taking place. Benning has invited UFA vets in the past to training camp and this will add to the pressure on Gaunce to make the team. I would hope 20 games last year has given Brendan a taste of the training and work he needs to do to improve. This is the last year of his entry level contract, so hopefully Gaunce comes out with some desire to drive to the net or he may need to work on his packing skills to get to Utica.