One of the most exciting aspects about the Utica Comets playoff run is that their success has come from both veterans and young players. While veterans such as Cal O’Reilly and Alex Friesen have led the way, contributions from Canucks prospects have helped propel this team into the Calder Cup Final.
When pondering the Canucks most exciting prospects, name such as Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen, Hunter Shinkaruk and Frankie Corrado come to mind. One prospect that often gets left out of the discussion is Brendan Gaunce, who has quietly had a very solid postseason.
He was a healthy scratch just two games into the playoffs, which had some pundits criticizing the Comets for not implementing more youth into their lineup.
After sitting for two games, he responded by netting two goals, including the game winner, which propelled the Comets to victory over the Chicago Wolves. The win punched their ticket into the second round and they haven’t looked back since.
Gaunce currently has nine points in 19 playoff games so far, which is good for fifth among Comets forwards. Those totals have come while playing in the bottom six, although he has seen time on the penalty kill and powerplay as well. He is impressing the Canucks brass as the playoffs continue.
Benning says Alex Grenier could push for a spot in training camp if he has a good summer. High praise for Gaunce’s improvement. #Canucks
— Grady S (@GradySas) June 3, 2015
Playing in all of those situations should help Gaunce earn a spot on the Canucks roster next season. He could be a good fit for the cap-strapped Canucks, and it would help Jim Benning continue his plan of implementing youth into the Canucks lineup.
Where Does Gaunce Fit?
The Canucks would do well to put another young player in their lineup next season. They were already the second-oldest team in the league at the beginning of last season, but slowly began to get younger as they brought players such as Bo Horvat and Ronalds Kenins into the lineup. Although they were both rookies, often they formed the best line for the Canucks last season.
Gaunce could bring that same type of energy to the Canucks lineup. He could fit right in a fourth line role, similar to what Ronalds Kenins was for the Canucks last season.
Gaunce is a natural centre, but switched to left wing for most of the season with the Comets. Since the Canucks only have three centers signed for next season, Gaunce could possibly switch back if that was the best fit for him.
If Gaunce were to play for the Canucks next season, he would make $833,000 according to nhlnumbers.com. After handing out generous contracts to both Luca Sbisa and Derek Dorsett, the Canucks now sit tight against the cap. It would bring the Canucks some relief to have some young players crack the lineup.
He is one of only six players drafted in the first round of 2012 who hasn’t made their NHL debut yet, but it shouldn’t be long until we see Gaunce suit up for the Canucks instead of the Comets.