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Photo Credit: Lindsay A. Mogle / Utica Comets

Report: Brendan Gaunce Will Not be Taken in the Expansion Draft

Each of the 30 NHL teams that participated in the 2016-17 season are poised to lose a player today to the league’s 31st franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights. For some teams, that’s a bigger deal than others, which is why there has been numerous reported side deals struck between Vegas and teams hoping not to lose specific players that they weren’t able to protect.

For a team like the Canucks, there is a bit less hand-wringing going on. When your team places 29th overall in the standings, your roster isn’t exactly going to be stocked with prime talent, and given that the Canucks are now entrenched in a rebuild, most of the talent they are concerned about is exempt from the process anyway.

Not so with young Brendan Gaunce, the Canucks first round pick in 2013. With three seasons of professional experience under his belt, Gaunce was exposed to the Golden Knights having been left off the protection list. Being that he’s just 23 years old and played most of last season in the NHL, he looked to be a strong candidate to get picked – not it looks as though that won’t be the case, as News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal has reported that Gaunce won’t be taken.

That’s good news for the Canucks, as even though Gaunce scored a grand total of zero goals last season in 57 games, he excelled defensively and whenever he was on the ice, pucks tended to be headed in the right direction: Gaunce led all Canucks with at least 15 games played in Corsi-For percentage, with a mark of 51.3%, and had the lowest Corsi-Against per 60 minutes among that group, allowing shots at a rate of 49.1 CA60.

Grady Sas laid out several reasons why losing Gaunce would be less than ideal over at the Daily Hive this morning. Among his reasons were Gaunce’s shot metrics, his age, and his versatility, all of which are very good considerations. In addition, I’d note that I think that Gaunce has plenty more offensive potential to give, based on the success he had at the AHL level. That too was a slow build for Gaunce. He had one goal in his first 26 American League games, and 10 goals in his last 28 American League games. Between regular season and playoffs over parts of three seasons, Gaunce contributed 34 goals and 79 points in 149 AHL games, all before turning 23.

While there were other semi-interesting options for Vegas, including Reid Boucher or Andrey Pedan, it seems probable that defenceman Luca Sbisa is the leading candidate to be picked, though nothing is confirmed.

For the Canucks, whichever player they lose is going to be of a caliber that isn’t likely to hurt them in the long run, but it is nice to hold on to the younger asset with more years of team control and solid underlying numbers.

    • Dan B

      Nobody cares who’s a first round draft pick. Gaunce is a first round pick too. So is Jack Skille. Teams only care about how good the player is, not when they were picked.

      In theory, there are 120 top-4 dmen in the league. Luca Sbisa was 124th in average TOI, just outside top-4 minutes. (2 spots below him is Kevin Bieksa!) He was 6th on the Canucks in average TOI. So either way, he gets bottom-pair minutes. And even then, he’s overused because his team is bad. He’d get fewer minutes on almost any other team.

      He’s also overpaid. That’s not a big deal on the Canucks, but it hurts his value.

      Gaunce and Boucher are both 23 and have more potential to improve than a 27 y-o, since players usually start to decline in their late 20s.

      He’s useful on a bottom pair, but Gaunce is more useful on the bottom forward line. And Gaunce still has several years as a cost-controlled RFA and several years to improve before hitting his peak.

      I’m pretty happy that it looks like Vegas is taking Sbisa off our hands, but it’s not cause I dislike the guy. I’d be happy if he resigned in Van next summer for around 2-2.5/year since that’s a fair price for an established bottom pair guy. He’s easier to replace than Gaunce on the open market, since RFAs will be cheaper than an equivalent UFA.

      • Bud Poile

        NHL hockey’s a business so many will notice how high he was placed.
        Sbisa is a defensive d-man and as such gets zero minutes of PP time.
        E/S Luca sits sixth on the team but he only averages 17 seconds/game behind Tanev.
        Tanev is our best D man.
        S/H Sbisa sits third on the team’s defense TOI per game.
        Sbisa played all 82 games this season and was 2nd amongst D in total TOI.
        Sbisa is a lot more desireable to the Canucks and Vegas than many here give him credit for.
        Top-4/5 d men are infiitely more valuable than fourth line forwards,even those with upside.

  • I’m happy to hear this. I hope that Green gives Gaunce opportunities to demonstrate his offensive capabilities, like still centering the 4th line but getting some 3rd line scoring linemates / ice-time and getting some 2nd unit power play time.

  • apr

    Shocking that LV would not take a guy who scored 0 goals last year, who likely won’t make the team, and will likely be lost back to the Canucks after being put on waivers to be sent to the NHL. Shocking.

  • Pat Quinn Way

    The sad part is they only get to take one player off this horror show list – the rest (unless they are UFAs) we are stuck with. What a joke Benning is and with the outstanding goalies and D Vegas have to choose from they will finish above us in their first season – which thankfully will be the clown Benning’s last!

  • Carl Jung

    It could be Pedan as well.

    Vegas will need a few defenseman for their AHL team.

    And, unlike Gaunce, Pedan is under contract for 2017-2018 which will help Vegas check off that box as well.

  • LTFan

    IMO there is no one on the Canucks list that will be a big loss to the team. Also the player may not make the LV team for opening night. As many have said, when a team finishes 29th overall that team doesn’t have much to lose. That is the case with the Canucks.

  • Locust

    The ONLY people that thought Gaunce may be selected write on this site.

    It’ll either be Sbisa as his salary will help them make cap minimum and they’ll be flipping some of the D-men they select or it’ll be Boucher – who is a thousand times better prospect for an expansion team than Gaunce.

  • Jabs

    Whether or not Vegas actually wants Sbisa, he is the player on that list with the highest trade value. They have said that some of their picks will be flipped to other teams for picks/prospects/players so that is what I see them doing with Sbisa.

  • Freud

    Like clockwork, no matter who was selected, it was a win/win for the regulars who are here only to try and convince themselves they are smarter than CA.

    If it was Gaunce, you can point out he had zero goals and it’s no big deal, CA are idiots.

    If it’s Sbisa, you can say you knew it was going to be Sbisa all along, CA are idiots.

    I’m more concerned about Benning wasting multiple chances at rebuilding this team while trying to “compete” during two extraordinary draft years. Now he’s got McPhee, a new divisional rival, rocketing past him in building a contender while having to compete divisionally against McDavid and a young Flames teams as well for years to come.

    • Cageyvet

      Rocketing past him? They haven’t even hit the ice yet and they’re rocketing past the Canucks? Your comments routinely display that you’re not really a fan, just a troll who takes every opportunity to bash management. Some psychoanalysis is in order, Freud, go get on the couch and see why you live in a one-dimensional world of negativity.

      • Freud

        ? I said they were rocketing past Vancouver in building a contender. What does hitting the ice have to do with that? Vegas has 3 first rounders in the top 15. They have almost twice as many draft picks as Vancouver over the next 3 years, with numerous other trades for futures coming in the next 2 months and 9 months. Vancouver will have to compete against that in 3-5 years just to get out of their division. They’ll have to compete against McDavid, just to get out of their division.

        I’d suggest you’re not really a fan. Content with a sh*tty product that is going nowhere. A troll would come here and try and tell this fanbase that everything is alright.

        • Braindead Benning

          Very well said Freud…

          I wonder why people can not see how TL-JB have purged so many draft picks in useless boneheaded trades just to try and get their “Fundamental” players.

        • Pat Quinn Way

          “A troll would come here and try and tell this fanbase that everything is alright.”

          Wow – what a comment, absolutely spot on mate. Wish I’d said that. We all know there is one poster trolling this site every day using multiple accounts to spread sh^t that ‘everything is alright’ – yet management does f%k all about it. JD, check the ip address of the following – Bud Poile, pheenster, I Am Ted, apr, LTFan, crofton, Jamie E, bobdaley44, Locust, RoCkFaThEr, Cageyvet – they are all the same person ruining this site, as stated already by Jackson McDonald. Ban the ip – job done, order restored. JUST DO IT!

    • kablebike

      For someone that posts relentlessly on this site, you seem to miss the boat: statistics are only a part of the equation. If Gaunce was drafted, no big deal. If Sbisa was drafted, no big deal. They are both replaceable without significant loss. You should be happy the Knights are “rocketing” past the Canucks because the odds of a higher draft pick increase for the Canucks.