2022-23 Team: Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Date of Birth: Mar 6, 2005
Place of Birth: Aurora, ON, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 57th (among NA skaters)
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 73rd
- Craig Button’s Rankings: 88th
Brad Gardiner’s 2022-23 season started out as well as anyone could ask for in their draft season. Thanks to opportunity and playing in a top role, Brad, the son of former NHL’er Bruce Gardiner, scored 16 goals in his first 30 games of the season for the Ottawa 67s.
It appeared that the work put in with Gary Roberts during the offseason was paying dividends. Gardiner’s start earned him a midterm ranking of 43rd with Central Scouting. Surely he was going to reach 30 goals on a team with OHL Championship aspirations.
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But sometimes, things don’t always go according to plan. For Gardiner, he finished the season scoring just three more goals in his 38 games. His final line for 2022-23 was 19-20-39 while playing all 68 games. He added 1-3-4 in 11 playoff games before the 67s were knocked out by the eventual champion Peterborough Petes in Round 2. This dropped him to 57th when the Final Rankings were released.
The goal disparity certainly requires further evaluation and a closer look. How does a player of Gardiner’s caliber suddenly fall off of the goal scoring pace when injury isn’t involved? There’s actually a fairly simple explanation for this. He played literally every role on the 67s depending on need.
At times, Gardiner was the 67s top center. He won over 50% of his faceoffs this season and played in important situations. While injuries were definitely a factor on the 67s at large, Gardiner played the type of game that could fit anywhere in the lineup based on whatever the most important need was at that moment. This included time as a bottom-six winger. When we say anywhere in the lineup, we literally mean anywhere from fourth-line winger to first-line center.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
It’s easy to see on tape why Gardiner can fit anywhere in the lineup. He’s plays a straight-ahead, no nonsense type of game. He is not afraid to use his 6-foot-1 frame in physical battles and is normally found below the goal line in puck battles. But as evidenced by his 19 goals, he can finish when given the chance. Then in the next moment, he’s back on defense ready to go to battle. He is one of the most hard-working and determined players you will see.
Because Gardiner can play many roles, that’s where the questions begin with him. What exactly would his role be at the next level? He is expected to be depended upon in 2023-24 as one of the 67’s go-to players. He’ll have the opportunity to work on his consistency. He’ll also be afforded the chance to use his shot more. He had just 113 shots on goal in 68 games and scored 19 times. With a finish like his, he needs to be able to use it more to his advantage. Whoever drafts Gardiner will be getting someone who can play any role asked of him with maximum energy. His bloodlines and upbringing should afford him the chance to make an impact in the NHL someday.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Brad Gardiner – NHL Draft Projection
Gardiner projects to be a later-round pick at the 2023 NHL Draft, likely somewhere between rounds 4-6. Given his bloodlines and work ethic, he will have the chance to become an important role player in the right situation. The fact he has played in a variety of roles will work to his advantage.
“Gardiner is an excellent forechecking forward who possesses a relentless motor and high-end off-the-puck skills. His game is defined by his ability to get below the opposing goal line, outwork opponents for loose pucks, and excel in the cycle. Gardiner is constantly in motion in the offensive zone, never standing still whether he’s on the puck or finding open spaces in the slot.” –Austin Broad, Future Considerations
“Gardiner is a creative and intelligent pivot who has proven to be a versatile, swiss army knife for the 67’s this year. He’s been everywhere from the first line to the fourth line and he’s played in every situation imaginable. I really like how he plays through traffic. His game is predicated by quick touches and quick feet and for that reason he’s a tough cover. He protects the puck really well by spinning off checks and keeping his feet moving. While his first step quickness is not impressive, he builds up to a solid top speed which he can use to apply pressure on the attack. I’ve been impressed, but I’m also still trying to get a read on the high end upside here. ” –Brock Otten, OHL Prospects
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“Gardiner is an intelligent forward who plays off the puck extremely well and is able to position himself in the middle lane to create quality scoring chances and capitalize on them with his strong wrist shot. With a projectable frame, Gardiner possesses quick feet and changes directions smoothly, enabling him to track opponents on defense and create space for himself when in possession of the puck” –Joseph Aleong, Future Considerations
- Physical play
- Good finisher
- Very hardworking
- Strong on the puck
Under Construction- Improvements to Make
- Needs to use his shot more
Gardiner’s NHL potential is that of a role player who could play important minutes in key situations. While he doesn’t have the elite qualities, he does several things well. That puts his upside as a hard-working, bottom-six center.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk- 3/5, Reward 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense- 7/10, Defense 7/10
Gardiner has won multiple OHL Academic Player of the Month honors.
- Ottawa 67s: 67s Gardiner Following in his Father’s Footsteps, Without the Wacky Traditions
- OHL: Academic Players of the Month for October 2022
- TSN: Brad Gardiner Interview During OHL Playoffs