Things are really heating up for the Vancouver Canucks… when it comes to their prospects. All over the world, from Utica all the way to Sweden and Finland, Canucks prospects are dominating their respective leagues — Adam Gaudette is holding down the fort at the college level.
Gaudette is easily one of the best players in the NCAA right now and it’s getting Canucks fans very, very excited. It won’t be long before we see Gaudette in blue and green, stamped with an Orca.
The 2018 Beanpot Tournament concluded February 12 with the Northeastern Huskies emerging victorious — Gaudette notched his second-career hat trick and led the Huskies to a 5-2 victory over Boston University for their first championship in 30 years. Gaudette was awarded the prestigious MVP award.
The tournament marks another accomplishment for the young 21-year-old, who continues to surge at the collegiate level. Gaudette now leads the entirety of NCAA hockey with an impressive 24 goals and 23 assists in 30 games.
Just to paint a picture, Brock Boeser finished with 16 goals and 18 helpers in 32 games last season for the University of North Dakota. Now, I’m not saying that Gaudette will be another Boeser, but I am saying that Gaudette has the ability to show us a level of play that was not expected from him — most fifth round picks (149th overall) don’t exactly pan out at the NHL level.
For the Huskies, Gaudette slots in at multiple roles and has been praised for his two-way abilities. He’s a fast, strong skater that isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas and create sparks for his team. Offensively, he makes quick decisions and utilizes his great shot to his advantage — quick, simple and hard shots have equated to an abundance of success for the Braintree, Massachusetts product — who knew, right?
His well-rounded play has earned him comparisons to former Canuck, Ryan Kesler — one of the best two-way centers in the NHL.
Gaudette and the Canucks
Mark my words — Gaudette will become the Canucks’ next Kesler and blossom into one of the NHL’s premier two-way centers.
Gaudette has one more year of NCAA eligibility, but I do believe the Canucks will be offering him an entry-level contract in the offseason, considering how great he’s been playing. He’s exactly what the Canucks would love down the middle on their third line — a player who can mark up the score sheet and also be tasked with a defensive role.
Under a month ago, I did a piece on Gaudette and I did not give the young man enough credit for his offensive abilities — I had him pegged as a primarily defensive guy and lately I’ve seen his true offensive potential. He’s developing at a very rapid pace and by the time the 2018-19 NHL season rolls around, I’m fully confident that Gaudette will be ready to go.
Essentially, Gaudette will be a better version of Sam Gagner — younger, faster and more skilled — not to knock on Gagner too much. However, Gagner is signed through until 2019-20 at $3.15 million per year, so, he’s still very much in the picture. Buying out Gagner is probably the most realistic option, if the Canucks want to hop on the Gaudette train.
On top of his aforementioned offensive capabilities, Gaudette is also a very reliable penalty-killer and with the Canucks 25th in the league for penalty kill percentage, he’s a very welcomed addition.
Once he’s finished dominating the NCAA, either next season or the season following, Gaudette will hold down a third line spot on the Canucks. I don’t think Gaudette will need any time in the AHL as he already appears to possess all the tools necessary to make the leap — college players, generally, have smoother transitions than say CHL or overseas players.
Gaudette will have a very similar career trajectory as Kesler — third line defensive role and then as he develops, more of an offensive role on the second line. Then again, he could possibly just jump out of the gate as an offensive weapon like Boeser did. However, my money is on the first scenario.
Moving into the future, Gaudette is going to be a very integral piece of the Canucks’ core. Players like Gaudette are highly valued and also rarities, so, the Canucks are really going to sink their teeth into him and lock him down as soon as they can.