2012 NHL Draft Prospect Profile #17: Brendan Gaunce

Brendan Gaunce (Photo courtesy of the OHL)

Brendan Gaunce

Position: Forward (C/LW)
Team: Belleville Bulls (OHL)
Age: 18
Date of Birth: March 25, 1994
Place of Birth: Markham, ON
Ht: 6'2" Wt: 201
Shoots: Left

2011-2012 Regular Season Stats:

GP G A PTS +/- PIM
68
28
40
68
+4 68

2011-2012 WHL Playoff Stats:

GP G A PTS +/- PIM
6
1
2
3
-2
2

Basically a point a game player in the OHL this year, Gaunce lead the Belleville Bulls in scoring this season. Primarily a centerman, he was also put over on the wing at several points this year and didn't seem to have any trouble making the adjustment. A member of a hockey family (his older brother Cameron was drafted by the Avalanche a few years ago), he's been regarded as a talented player but also a natural leader and charismatic force in the dressing room.

At the same time, some scouts have raised concerns about his overall mobility and skating, pointing them out as areas he needs to improve if he wants to raise his game to the next level, and the dreaded issue of "consistency" has come up several times.

Scouting Report:

Gaunce has all the tools that you look for in a potential second line centre at the next level. His biggest asset is his intelligent and anticipation skills. He has the ability to read the play two to three plays ahead, and anticipate it. As part of those anticipation skills, he also can anticipate well with the puck on his stick. He makes strong decisions with the puck on his stick, and has the ability to place the puck in the right spot of the offensive zone, be it via a pass or by skating it there. He is also one of the strongest positional players available for the draft. He is extremely effective positionally in all three zones, and shows an ability to play a smart, two way game. The other aspect of his skill set that impresses is his shot. He has one of the strongest shots in the draft, displaying strong accuracy and speed, but more importantly, a very quick release. He has all of the intangibles that you look for in a future leader at the next level, and looks like a player who will one day be a captain in the NHL.

The Prospect Blog

Gaunce is never going to be the type of player to wow you with dynamic offensive flair, but you can rest assured he brings more than enough to the table. As one of the top two-way forwards in the draft, Gaunce has developed into a player that a coach can feel confident in putting on the ice in any situation. He has good size and competes hard, winning lots of puck battles and being a difficult player to contain. His game is centered around his ability to do the little things and his intangibles, such as leadership, are qualities that separate him from others. Gaunce is still a very capable offensive player and has a good scoring touch, especially around the net. His skating still needs to improve, but his game has a lot of parallels to Ryan O'Reilly at the same age.

The Scouting Report

Why He'd Be A Good Fit In Columbus:

Gaunce is another player who would be an excellent snag if the team can acquire another first round pick from draft day trades - or a guy to snag quickly if he should fall into the second round, much like Boone Jenner last year. He may need to improve his skating, but that's a skill that the team has proven they can help a player develop (David Savard being the most obvious case), and more importantly it is just that - a skill. Skills can be honed. You can't magically give someone more talent or intelligence, and that's something Gaunce brings to the table in spades.

Adding him to the team's prospect pool as a future top six / top nine center in the mold of a team like Pittsburgh or San Jose would provide excellent offensive ability and good two way skills, especially in a potential future with Ryan Johansen and Michael Chaput filling out the middle.

Comparing him to Ryan O'Reilly is interesting, because he's a guy who went from somewhat afterthought to a major contributor for Colorado over the last couple of seasons, and it'd be great to have someone rise through the Blue Jackets' ranks the same way.

Gaunce In Action:


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