Welcome to the 2022 Edition of the Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings. The list includes all players in the Canucks system who were born after April 15th, 1998.
If Daimon Gardner hits as a prospect and makes the NHL, watch out.
There’s a lot to like about the 6’4” kid from Eagle Lake First Nation in Ontario. Not only is he a big, imposing centreman, but he uses his size to win puck battles defensively, and drive to the net on offence.
If you read the prospect excerpt from Elite Prospects, you start to wonder why he wasn’t drafted earlier.
“Always inside-focused, Gardner’s sense prevails across his shifts. He drives middle lanes, exploits his frame advantages to protect against defenders, and has handling, shooting, and passing skills that all blend into a relatively sophisticated offensive package. Off-puck, Gardner is a constant rotator, who jumps in willingly to help win battles or bully net front defenders to create screens.”
The big red flag with Gardner right now is that he is a raw prospect who used his size and skill to feast on easier competition while playing high school hockey in Minnesota.
Life won’t be as easy for Gardner in the years ahead, but that doesn’t mean he can’t develop into a future NHL player.
One of the reasons why Gardner cracked the Top 25 was because one of our voters, Daniel Gee of Elite Prospects, is very high on the player after scouting him last season.
Daimon Gardner will play for the BCHL's @Chiefs_Hockey next season, and then head off to C. He can be an absolute monster if developed properly. https://t.co/gcZ7Af6nH3 pic.twitter.com/CuaDMkxyoD— Daniel Gee (@DanielGScouting) July 8, 2022
“He is frankly a monster on the walls, pinning and pressing defenders into scramble breakouts,” Daniel said in the report above.
There’s no doubt that Gardner is a raw prospect, and there were some immediate doubters once he was selected by the Canucks in July.
There are also scouts, like Daniel and others, who think the Canucks potentially found a diamond in the rough.
Only time will tell.
What’s Next for Gardner?
Gardner’s ascension up the hockey ladder (and the competitive ladder) begins next season in the Canucks’ backyard.
Early in his hockey career, Gardner has traveled extensively, playing in Winnipeg, Minnesota, Omaha, and Tri-City in Nebraska.
Next season, he comes out west to join the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL.
It will be a good test for Gardner to see if he can continue developing on both the offensive and defensive side of the puck, since his ceiling is really that of a third-line NHL centre.
Gardner has committed to Clarkson University for the following season in 2023-24.