After a slew of transactions to begin the offseason, the Vancouver Canucks still have a great deal of questions regarding their bottom six forwards. Likely the most intriguing right now is that of Adam Gaudette.
Ideally, Gaudette will bring stability to the third line center position and develop into a player that is both responsible in his own end and as offensively prolific as he was with Northeastern University. Is he ready to jump into that role yet? Would he benefit more from a season in Utica with more minutes in all situations?
If Gaudette were to make the jump to full time in that role, it would likely be in replacement of Brandon Sutter. It wouldn’t be really fair to compare last seasons totals for either of them and that it also is impossible to compare a veteran player with a prospect. I don’t want to do either of those. Instead let’s look at where Gaudette should play next season.
Gaudette had a slow start to last season, but finished the year with a modest five goals and 12 points in 56 games played. In Utica, he had much stronger numbers as he played 14 games and netted five goals while recording 11 points. At nearly a point per game rate, Gaudette was utilized in a variety of situations including (and most importantly) the power play. In the NHL, he wouldn’t get the same opportunities that he would get with the Comets in Utica.
While there is a stop gap still in place to buy Gaudette some time to properly develop and get the necessary opportunities to further grow his game at the professional level, it seems wise to do so. The Canucks have had a long history of injuries in recent years and having a player like Gaudette that can come in and give meaningful minutes would be a great asset for them going forward and would only give him more experience in the NHL before thrusting him into a full time role. So he likely will get plenty of NHL minutes regardless.
It appears unlikely that Sutter will remain a Canuck for much longer anyways. Why not try to showcase him and boost his value to maximize a return before casting him off in order to give his job to a player that would benefit with having more time to incubate in the AHL anyways?
I believe that Gaudette is a more than capable NHL ready player right now, but for his long term development, it is clear that more opportunity to play would be far more beneficial for a young player that could be integral to the new Canucks nucleus.