NHL Draft Prospect Profile #13: Brendan Gaunce

Drafted 26th Overall by the Vancouver Canucks

Brendan Gaunce is our top ranked Canadian born forward prospect.  At #13 overall this really shows the lack of high end Canadian forwards available this year.  Gaunce is another big, two way centre playing in the OHL for the Belleville Bulls.  He is also a member of Team Canada’s entry in the U18 World Championships taking place right now in the Czech Republic.  Gaunce is the first of two Belleville Bulls rated in the first round, as he is joined by Malcolm Subban.

Born Mar 25 1994 — Markham, ONT
Height 6.02 — Weight 205 — Shoots L

2010-11 Belleville Bulls OHL 65 11 25 36 40 -31 4 0 0 0 4
2011-12 Belleville Bulls OHL 68 28 40 68 68 4  6  1 2 3 2

Brendan Gaunce is the classic good old Canadian Boy hockey player.  He’s got great size and he is not afraid to use it.  He is extremely effective using his body in the offensive zone, winning board battles, getting to loose pucks, and scoring the points from the dirty areas of the ice.  Gaunce thrives in traffic, and combines his powerful physique with soft hands, good hockey sense and excellent passing ability to be a point per game player for the Belleville Bulls.  Gaunce is an extremely hardworking player and we’ve rarely seen this kid take a shift off.

Gaunce is also a very intelligent defensive player.  His coaches in Belleville use him in all situations, including when line matching against the opponent’s best players and on the penalty kill.  Gaunce uses his long reach to cut down on passing lanes and is not afraid to use his body to block shots.  He has good positioning and anticipation.  His size, strength and hard work also help him to win board battles in the defensive zone.

Gaunce has great intagibles, and in watching games it is obvious to us that Gaunce is a natural born leader. He wears the Alternate Captain’s “A” for the Belleville Bulls.  That shows the confidence his coaches have in him and the respect he has of management and teammates as it is very rare for a 17 year old CHLer to have a letter on his jersey.  Gaunce is also an Alternate Captain for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.  Gaunce comes from a hockey family as his older brother Cameron Gaunce is a prospect with the Colorado Avalanche.

In terms of areas that could be improved, Gaunce could use some work on his skating.  His first step and acceleration definitely need a little work.  Gaunce however does possess decent top end speed when he has the opportunity to show it off.  However, his game is so full of stops and starts, battles on the boards, and puck possession in the offensive zone, improvements on that his first step, acceleration and agility will help Gaunce to be an offensive player at the next level.

In terms of a comparison and future projection, Gaunce reminds us of Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche.  We believe he has the potential to be a top 6 offensive contributor and to play effective shut down defence against the other team’s best players.  We even believe that if Gaunce can improve his quickness, he might be able to become a top line player, similar to a David Backes of the St. Louis Blues.

… and thats the Last Word.