The Toronto Maple Leafs lack a big and strong, stay-at-home, top four defencemen. There is no question about that. However, Vancouver Canucks Erik Gudbranson is not the resolution to the Leafs top four problems. Gudbranson is not worth trading away a prospect and a draft pick for.
Toronto Maple Leafs Should Re-evaluate Vancouver Canucks Erik Gudbranson Asking Price
Several hockey insiders have indicated that it would take a draft pick and prospect to land Gudbranson. That is a high asking price if one were to dissect Gudbranson’s play.
The 6’5″, 220 lb, right-handed, stay-at-home defenseman looks nice to the Maple Leafs on paper. Gudbranson could make a great defense partner for Morgan Rielly. However, the fact of the matter is Gudbranson cannot truly fill the void that the Leafs have.
An In-depth Look at Gudbranson’s Career
Yes, Gudbranson is a big boy that can throw his body around. He can throw his fist and fire the team up. However, that is about all he can do. Gudbranson has been having a not-so-noteworthy couple of years. “Guddy’s” -14 plus/minus rating in 2016-2017 paints the picture. Not to mention, he only played 30 games after being injured for most of the season after he suffered ligament damage in his wrist. In the games that he did play, Gudbranson only recorded one goal and five assists while tallying 18 penalty minutes. That is alright, but it is not Andrew Nielsen and a third rounder good.
This year “Guddy’s” numbers have gone on the decline. In 29 games, he has no goals and two assists while recording 28 penalty minutes. The only thing that has improved is his plus/minus rating. Gudbranson’s rating currently sits even. Guddy’s point shares for the 2017-2018 season is an underwhelming 0.8. His Corsi-For percentage is a below average 43.2 %. The one thing Gudbranson does have going for him is he does have the lowest goals against per hour on the Canucks’ defense at 1.71. That is not too shabby.
Back in the day, Gudbranson was a high draft pick. Flordia Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon picked him third overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. At the time, it looked like Gudbranson had upside. He was a big and skilled defenseman with the Kingston Frontenacs. In his 148 games Ontario Hockey League career, he recorded 79 points and had a -6 plus/minus rating. Gudbranson had a strong showing at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship playing for Canada. in seven games, Gudbranson recorded five points off three goals and two assists. Not forgetting to mention, Guddy had a plus/minus of +8.
The Case for Gudbranson
It is unfair to say that the 26-year-old Gudbranson is “trash”. He is a useful player that a team could benefit from. Gudbranson had upside and showcased that in his junior years. He brings things that cannot be statistically analyzed like leadership and a hard work ethic. On a young team like Toronto or the Edmonton Oilers, he could mentor their young blueline players. Not to mention, he is relatively young himself and fits in with younger teams plans, if the team wishes to keep him moving forward.
The Downside on Gudbranson
Statistically speaking, Gudbranson is somewhat of a “dud”. He is a project defenseman that offers a big body and a right-handed shot, but he struggles offensively and is a burden to a blueline that would benefit much more from an all-around defender.
If he was on waivers, it would be hard for any team to not consider picking him up. However, this is a different situation and a team like Toronto has to be careful what they give up for him.
Do the Leafs Pull the Trigger?
The harsh truth is, that to Toronto, Gudbranson is worth a bag of pucks. Gudbranson is a great guy with not much of an upside, but that is about it.
To most hockey fans, it would be a stretch to say that Gudbranson is worth a low-end prospect and a pick. Vancouver Canucks fans would beg to differ, but the one thing that everyone should keep in mind is that Gudbranson is a rental. That significantly decreases his value.
In all fairness, as he sits right now, Gudbranson at best is worth a fourth-round pick. Even that price is high for Gudbranson whom still has his offensive struggles. All he would be is a depth defenseman anyhow. This is something that Toronto has a surplus of right now with Connor Carrick, Andreas Borgman, and Travis Dermott.
As always, if there is a deal to be made, there is usually a deal to be made. Sometimes it is just the ability to reason that wears so thin.