2012 NHL Draft Scouting Report: Brendan Gaunce
Gaunce has been on the draft radar for quite sometime now. Drafted out of the Markham Waxers organization second overall in the 2010 OHL Draft, Gaunce has shown a nice development curve over the past few years. He was a player who I loved to watch, and projected as a franchise player for the Belleville Bulls. He has done nothing to saw that feeling, and now that he is in his draft year, he is showing strong projectable upside. All year he has been the Bulls top centre, playing significant minutes and in every opportunity. He is a player who is a polarizing. You either love his intelligence and intangibles, or struggle to see a long term upside with him.
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.
Gaunce has some key things to work on in order to continue his development path. His biggest issue is his mobility, specifically his acceleration and lateral movement. He is a good skater for his size, and gets the job done at the Ontario Hockey League level, but he could struggle to be as effective at the next level if he doesn’t improve his footwork and first few strides. He also needs to develop his lateral movement. Once again, it works at the Ontario Hockey League level, but he could be limited at the next level. Continued development of his east to west movement will be a key for him. I also would love to see him bring a more consistent effort every time he hits the ice. He can be a bit inconsistent, and needs to focus on bringing his best every game.
Individual skill Rankings (out of 10)
Skill : 8
Hockey Sence: 9.5
Positional Play: 8
Gaunce projects out as a good second line centre with high leadership abilities. I do fear that his long-term offensive abilities are limited, and not sure if he will become anything more then a third line NHL centre.
Gaunce should be the fifth Ontario Hockey League player selected for the NHL Draft, and should be selected 11th – 15th overall