Brendan Gaunce not ranked among ESPN's Top 100 prospects

Cam Charron
September 09 2013 12:30PM

After a long and controversial campaign, the writers at Canucks Army ranked Brendan Gaunce No. 1 among prospects in the Vancouver system. Our lobbying efforts directed at ESPN's prospect guru Corey Pronman failed to land Gaunce onto Pronman's list of Top 100 NHL prospects, which went up earlier today [Insiders Only].

The highest ranked Canuck instead went to Hunter Shinkaruk, a player full of offensive potential but is still a ways away from producing in the NHL. Shinkaruk was rated at 22 overall, below Teuvo Teravainen of the Chicago Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse of the Edmonton Oilers.

Other Canucks on the list include Bo Horvat at 28, Frank Corrado at 78, and Nicklas Jensen at 83. Gaunce didn't even make the "Just Missed" category of 10 prospects that failed to make the final cut.

I suppose the only saving grace for Gaunce at this point is his two assists from yesterday's Young Stars game after getting shifted over to left wing. Such a positional shift may void his candidacy to join the Canucks as a third-line centreman, before proper training camp has even started yet. Not to say that Gaunce should be immediately declared a bust days before the start of his very first National Hockey League training camp, but he has obviously reached the point in his development where fans see more of the negatives and fewer of the positives.

Thank goodness for us Pronman didn't also rank fan favourite Ludwig Blomstrand on the Top 100. We may have to spend the year defending our collective decision to rank Gaunce No. 1 in the Canucks' system, especially if Gaunce begins his final season of junior eligibility with the Belleville Bulls.

Just a note about Prospect Camps and junior hockey in general, the players that come away with the best chance at making the NHL aren't necessarily the ones that play the best at that level. Nicklas Jensen, by way of example, is a couple of years older than some of the players in the tournament and he is literally a "man amongst boys". 

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 loinstache
September 09 2013, 12:44PM
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Gaunce has been supremely disappointing in the prospect games... his effort level has been nowhere near that of Jensen or much lower-ranked Cassels (who, alternatively, has me excited for his future even if it is just as a fourth liner).

I think it's stupid to get up in arms at Canucks Army writers for his ranking (how dare you provide us information and entertainment), but you would also like to see a number one ranked prospect actually give a sh*t and try.

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#2 NM00
September 09 2013, 12:56PM
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It would be nice to see a draft selection take a big step forward a year or two after being drafted.

I'm nostalgic for that brief moment in time when Cody Hodgson looked like a "steal".

Ah well, at least there is Frank Corrado.

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#3 GeezMoney
September 09 2013, 01:02PM
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Prospects are simply that: objects of potential. Maybe we'll look back at the 2013 draft and say "that is the corner stone of the team". Ultimately, if Brendan Gaunce's coach says he tops out as 3rd line centre (Travis Green said this!) then maybe he's not even worrying about scoring at the prospects tourney. Maybe his entire focus is to be Manny Malhotra clone. And if so, it would do us all good to remember Manny took a long time to develop.

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#5 ted
September 09 2013, 01:47PM
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Cam Charron wrote:

Manny was picked 7th overall and played in the NHL immediately.

Yep. Manny's locker was placed right next to Gretzky's. It also happened to be Wayne's final season.

I saw pieces of the games and there were many pleasant surprises. I think the only real negative surprise was Gaunce's compete level. It's so odd this guy isn't bringing more to the ice. We heard all about his amazing feats with the Bulls etc. At the very least, he should've shown some of that with the Young Stars team. Let's see what he does in main camp.

I am really glad Gillis made a move to get a high pick (Horvat). I don't see too many high end prospects and Bo has looked good.

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#6 Nigel
September 09 2013, 02:02PM
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With Gaunce I'm not sure that he lacks heart or doesn't care. After game 1 of the series there was a suggestion that he was hurt but I think we can rule that out now that he played 2 days later. I really think that what you see is what you get. I really don't see that he has a single NHL level skill right now. He is a below average skater, below average offensive player (you can see that by watching him - you don't even need to look at his terrible OHL numbers from last year), below average quickness and has no real instinct for using his size. I have seen him live twice now and have watched both of his games in Penticton (on the computer). I would actually be interested in hearing from someone who is high on him (and has seen him live) to understand what they see that I don't.

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#7 Peachy
September 09 2013, 02:11PM
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@Nigel

There might have been a recent write-up on this very site doing just that...

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#8 Mack
September 09 2013, 03:44PM
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Nigel wrote:

With Gaunce I'm not sure that he lacks heart or doesn't care. After game 1 of the series there was a suggestion that he was hurt but I think we can rule that out now that he played 2 days later. I really think that what you see is what you get. I really don't see that he has a single NHL level skill right now. He is a below average skater, below average offensive player (you can see that by watching him - you don't even need to look at his terrible OHL numbers from last year), below average quickness and has no real instinct for using his size. I have seen him live twice now and have watched both of his games in Penticton (on the computer). I would actually be interested in hearing from someone who is high on him (and has seen him live) to understand what they see that I don't.

60 pts in 60 games and 22 in 17 playoff games is considered terrible OHL numbers? Alright then.

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#9 Wisp
September 09 2013, 03:52PM
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Gaunce is a subtle player. Crafty offensively, always in the right position. The game comes to him. He doesn't chase it like some of the prospects in this tourney, who look to have 'hustle' and 'emotion.'

The one thing I wish he was faster so he could engage physically more.

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#10 Nigel
September 09 2013, 04:11PM
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Yes, Gaunce's numbers last year were very poor. In Junior Hockey, age matters - a lot. To be a point a game player in your post-draft year in the OHL is not good. Context matters.

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#11 Ted
September 09 2013, 04:14PM
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Nigel wrote:

Yes, Gaunce's numbers last year were very poor. In Junior Hockey, age matters - a lot. To be a point a game player in your post-draft year in the OHL is not good. Context matters.

Yeah I'm not sure where you're getting that measuring stick. From what I've seen and read, Gaunce was pretty good in the OHL. He hasn't impressed like Bo at the Young Stars but he has shown flashes here and there. His assists were pretty decent in the Oiler game.

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#12 Wisp
September 09 2013, 04:41PM
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Gaunce is hard to pin because of the situations he's played in. Very defense orientated and used vs top competition. His playmaking exploded when he was moved to wing with Graovik, a goal scoring center. His offensive ability is subtle but it's subtle enough that you can question if the creativity is there at all.

I think his ceiling is higher than he's given credit, but that won't be apparent for awhile.

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#13 Wisp
September 09 2013, 04:44PM
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...In any case, this thread shouldn't be a surprise. Gaunce isn't a top 100 prospect and never was! He was drafted 26 overall and is right where he should be for a player of his development should be!

It only becomes a story because Canucks Army was silly to rank him ahead of Horvat, Shinkaruk, Corrado, and Jensen!

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#14 Matt
September 09 2013, 05:47PM
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It's possible there's something else going on with Gaunce. He may have been fighting a cold or flu, or family issues or something else that could affect his performance. It's two games - way too small a sample size, and a lot of variables can affect play in two games. Everything up to this point has pointed at Gaunce having an NHL future as a middle-6 player. One bad game and one decent game at a prospects tourney doesn't worry me.

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#15 Lemming
September 09 2013, 05:54PM
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At this point in time, and not thinking about the ever ambiguous "potential" label everyone seems obsessed with, I'd say Jensen is the top forward prospect for the Canucks. Out of all the forwards, he seems to have the best chance to make the team at this point in time.

Other prospects might pass him at some point, or not, I don't know. But he's just looking very very good right now.

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#16 PB
September 09 2013, 06:29PM
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Oh. My. God.

Let me get this right, after 2 meh games at a prospects glorified shinny tournament Gaunce is a bust? How dare a blog rate him as the top prospect for the Canucks since we've all seen that he's not tearing up the ice (in two games!); now we can dismiss all his past achievements, all the good press he got in last year's regular season and playoffs, all the postives his own coaches -- not Trent Green who's seen him for a week, not Brent Sutter who's seen him for one tournament -- have to say, that's all thrown out the window because of this?

These prospects tourneys are deceptive at best; Jensen is clearly NHL-ready as his brief audition last year suggested, Corrado's another man playing amongst boys, and Horvat and Shinkaruk are a few years away. Whether Gaunce deserves to be the best prospect is debatable (I'd say Jensen or Corrado) but it's not nearly as ludicrous as some here make it out to be. And those pining for the days of Hodgson, which ones would those be -- the season after he got drafted and was the best prospect in hockey or the two following it where his injuries and subsequent problems labeled him a potential bust?

Being fickle is nothing new to Canucks fans but clearly neither is being an idiot.

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#17 Lemming
September 09 2013, 07:01PM
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@PB

To quote the article verbatim, as you clearly didn't read it: "Not to say that Gaunce should be immediately declared a bust days before the start of his very first National Hockey League training camp"

The article didn't declare him a bust at all. They said that he's not putting a great impression forward and that there are (rather legitimate I might add) concerns about his playmaking ability and ability to even keep up with the play.

These are reasonable things to say about any prospect. The consensus in many hockey circles is lacking: some people like him, some don't.

But don't put words in in the writer's mouth, or Canucks fans for that matter, as I don't think he's a bust yet either. Hell, I'm still hanging onto the likes of Yann Sauve.

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#18 PB
September 09 2013, 07:21PM
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@Lemming

Lemming, sorry, my response was not directed at the article -- which I liked -- nor at the prospect rankings series, which I also liked. I also like the recaps of the prospects tourney which I think is useful; I'm just appalled at the Gaunce-bashing that *some* -- not all -- on these boards are engaging in. It seems premature at best. I'm not saying that Gaunce is going to come through and it's not great that he's had a couple of poor showings. But I think it's far too early to be declaring him a lost cause. I clearly did not distinguish between my reaction to the posters and that of the original article -- you're quite right that's not what they said and not what I meant to imply.

And for the record, I include myself in the ranks of idiot Canucks fans.

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#19 andyg
September 09 2013, 07:40PM
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Lemming wrote:

To quote the article verbatim, as you clearly didn't read it: "Not to say that Gaunce should be immediately declared a bust days before the start of his very first National Hockey League training camp"

The article didn't declare him a bust at all. They said that he's not putting a great impression forward and that there are (rather legitimate I might add) concerns about his playmaking ability and ability to even keep up with the play.

These are reasonable things to say about any prospect. The consensus in many hockey circles is lacking: some people like him, some don't.

But don't put words in in the writer's mouth, or Canucks fans for that matter, as I don't think he's a bust yet either. Hell, I'm still hanging onto the likes of Yann Sauve.

I was able to watch 2 of his games live and came away thinking ,not this year but certainly not a bust!To me his weakness in skating is his first few strides as at times he would get caught behind the play then would catch up. Solid defensively but watched him make a couple of passes that showed a fair amount of vision an skill.I still see a 220lb center who is probable no more than 2 years away.

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#20 Wisp
September 09 2013, 08:10PM
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@PB

I don't think Gaunce is a bust, I think he's on track. He's not the kind of player most people expected but that certainly does not make him a bust.

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#21 Wisp
September 09 2013, 08:15PM
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Also why are we griping over Gaunce when we have four players in Pronman's top 100? Last couple of years we haven't had any. That's the news.

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#22 Just One Cup
September 09 2013, 10:29PM
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Hey everyone, new reader here who was at the game against the Oilers.

I do have to agree that it's too early yet to call Gaunce a bust, but wow, he just didn't have any compete level in my eyes. It was fun to watch the effort level of Jensen, Cassels, Mallet, and pretty much all the kids who were out there busting their asses to make a good impression.

I dunno if Gaunce figures he's a first rounder and he's just got to show up and he's going to make the team or what, but he looked slow, uninterested, and unimpressive. Just what I saw. Maybe the comments Sutter made about him from the Team Canada summer development camp had some weight to them....

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#23 JCDavies
September 09 2013, 11:45PM
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@GeezMoney

"... tops out as 3rd line centre (Travis Green said this!) "

The 2nd part of the Green quote:

"Possibly, a second-line guy."

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#24 JCDavies
September 09 2013, 11:56PM
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@Cam

PITB gave Blomstrand a 3rd star!

CA and Pronman have some explaining to do...

http://vansunsportsblogs.com/2013/09/09/young-stars-three-stars-canucks-prospects-vs-jets-prospects-september-9-2013/

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#25 Heyitsp
September 10 2013, 06:20PM
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I think it was obvious to anyone who watched the last few games that Gaunce seemed to fight the play the whole way and always seemed a half tick late on reading the play which left him behind or ahead or plain standing in the wrong spot. If he can get his reaction time caught up to the speed of play it would do wonders for him. I doubt he's as slow as he looks when he's making slow reads. But his skating still definitely needs improving.

He is great on face offs from what I saw. Seemed most comfortable in his own zone and seemed to make clean passes.

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