21-Year-Old Center – Vancouver Canucks
Brendan Gaunce Contract Information:
The Canucks signed Gaunce to an entry-level contract in August of 2012.
Gaunce was assigned to AHL Utica on Thursday.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
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Gaunce was sent back down to the OHL last season after an impressive preseason stint with the Canucks in which he recorded two goals. The 20-year-old center tallied 21 goals and 46 points in 43 games with the Erie Otters in 2013-2014. He continued his superb play into the playoffs, racking up five goals and 16 points in 14 playoff games. Gaunce will battle with fellow prospects Hunter Shinkaruk, Nicklas Jensen and Dane Fox for a roster spot with the Canucks this season.
Gaunce’s first year as part of the Canucks system was similar to his previous year, as he once again suited up for Belleville of the OHL and performed at a point-per-game pace. He finished the season with 33 goals and 27 assists in 60 games for the Bulls. The 2012 first-round pick is expected to have a future with the Canucks soon, possibly as soon as this season, but his long-term potential is still up for debate. He’s great in the face-off circle and plays a solid two-way game, but Gaunce’s skating could keep him out of a top-six role. The uncertainty over Gaunce’s upside is likely one of the reasons Vancouver opted to select another center (Bo Horvat) in the first round of the 2013 draft. Gaunce could compete for a roster spot in camp this year, but given his youth and still-developing skill set, he might be best served with some seasoning at the AHL level before joining the Canucks on a full-time basis. Still, there’s plenty of upside here if Gaunce does nab a roster spot out of camp.
Gaunce was the Canucks’ first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. At 6-2, 215, Gaunce is a hulking center that provides plenty of physicality while also possessing his fair share of skills. He already sports a booming shot, solid face-off abilities and the defensive wherewithal to one day be a decent third-line center, but Gaunce needs to do a lot of work on his skating to reach his full potential. The 18-year old center will need some seasoning in the minors, but he should eventually carve out a lengthy NHL career.