The draft, hands down, is the best time of the hockey season. Maybe I'm just saying that because the Wild haven't been seen post-season action since 2008, but that is besides the point.
The Wild hold seven picks this year, including the 7th overall pick. The last time that Wild had a pick this high was when the team selected Benoit Pouliot 4th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (the beginning of the Wild's awful draft record, as seen by our pal's inspiration for their blog's name...).
However, since GM Chuck Fletcher and Assistant GM Brett Flahr arrived, the team has started to see some promise. Some of these names include the Christ-like (or whoever you pray to) Mikael Granlund, Johan Larsson, Charlie Coyle and the recently drafted Jonas Brodin.
So, on June 22nd-23rd, we will all sit down in front of the television/computer and watch the draft. But if you are wondering, "who's who", then you haven't been reading HW because thats my job.
So without further ado:
Introducing our 2012 NHL #14 Draft Prospect - Brendan Gaunce
Don't forget to check out the Hockey Wilderness 2011 Draft Page as well. Just click on the picture.
Center / Belleville Bulls
Mar 25 1994
|2011/12 - Belleville Bulls (OHL)
|2011/12 - Playoffs
Accomplishments & Awards:
|2011/12||U18 WJC Bronze Medal|
|CHL Top Prospects Game|
|2010/11||U17 WHC Gold Medal|
Prospect Jersey (What Would They Look Like In a Wild Jersey?)
Just to spite the Avs.
Summarized Scouting Report
A big power centre with strong two-way skills ... has been incredibly consistent this year ... a great direct-line player ... has the physical characteristics that are close to NHL ready ... tough and physically strong ... willing to throw his body around and also drop the mitts ... has a powerful snap shot off the rush ... has a good scoring touch, especially around the net ... hard to contain when driving the net ... a beast along the wall and when he plants himself in front of the goaltender ... winning lots of puck battles ... can both score utilizing a hard snap shot as well as set-up a play ... great hands ... has some strong offensive instincts and vision ... his game is centered around his ability to do the little things ... competes both ways ... knows what to do in his own zone ... is a big game player that rises to the challenge ... intelligent player with a pro outlook ... dedicated to improving his game ... his intangibles are qualities that separate him from others
Gaunce is never going to be the type of player to wow you with dynamic offensive flair ... needs work on his first couple of steps and his agility ... skates with just average speed and lacks jump because his heavy boots ... could use a little more jam in his game considering his size ... not a dangler
#2 Power centerman
Brendan Gaunce Highlights (via DumbassShello)
Where Does He Fit In The Wild?
If we lacked a center with size and skill and tons of intangibles, Gaunce would be at the top of my list of who I want. But seeing that we already have a guy like Charlie Coyle and to a lesser extent Johan Larsson, I think we should be fine in that department.
Some may see Gaunce as a safe thirdliner who's skating is lacking, making him a very unpopular choice in the top 15 range, but I feel there is more to Gaunce than just that.
First and foremost, he has size and uses that size very well. He is a pain trying to win the puck over as he uses his size to protect the puck very well, whether that be along the boards or when he is driving to the net. When he doesn't have the puck, he uses his size to give a solid hit or to push off players to win the puck.
While he doesn't play with much flash, his skill with his size helps him create offense when driving the net, continuing the cycle, or just winning puck battles. But lets not forget that he has a solid shot that he compliments his physical play with, making him a dangerous forward in the offensive zone.
No, he may not be the fastest forward, but from what I could tell in the U-18 tournament with Canada, he was efficient and while he did lack jump and speed, he still managed to constantly be an effective forechecking forward, dishing out hits or just putting pressure of the puck carrier. He may not be the fastest player at doing so, but he still managed to do so.
All that with his strong character and willingness to improve, I think Gaunce can be one solid player at the NHL level.
Special thanks to HFBoards, Future Considerations, The Hockey Writers, TSN, OHLProspeccts and The Scouting Report