Adam Gaudette impressed Vancouver Canucks coaches and fans during training camp this offseason. It was a bit of a surprise really because the writing on the wall was more time in Utica with the Comets.
However, Gaudette earned a roster spot out of training camp. Although he wasn’t in the opening-night lineup, after the Canucks lost to the Edmonton Oilers on opening night, head coach Travis Green gave Gaudette a chance.
It didn’t go well enough. Gaudette played three games, but he didn’t produce as he did during training camp games. He scored one assist, and then was replaced by Tyler Motte who had been recovering from an injury. Gaudette was a healthy scratch for five games, and then was sent to the minors.
After a stellar career at Northeastern University, where he won the 2018 Hobey Baker Award, the 23-year-old has struggled to impress in regular-season NHL games. Still, there was never a thought that the young center would not get another look before the season was completed. Well, news was that the Canucks have called up Gaudette this week because, ironically and sadly, Motte was himself injured.
Gaudette’s Time In Utica
During his quick two games with the Comets, Gaudette scored a goal. Now he has another chance with the big club because Motte is out for just over a week. However, news from the Canucks’ site is that Gaudette won’t play in the game against the Florida Panthers. Instead of playing Gaudette, the Canucks will use the high-priced Loui Eriksson to replace Motte. That move surprises me. Why then would the team have called up Gaudette?
Why would Gaudette take up residence in the Canucks’ press box when he might be playing big minutes in Utica? I would have thought that Gaudette would become the third-line center, with Green moving Brandon Sutter to play on the Canucks’ shutdown line centered by Jay Beagle. Not so.
Gaudette Has Unfulfilled Potential
I would love to see Gaudette more regularly, whether it’s with the Canucks or in Utica. It isn’t as if Gaudette doesn’t come without a pedigree. He was a solid young prospect who led U.S. college hockey in scoring. So far, however, he simply hasn’t translated that play into success at the NHL level. That said, he has potential written all over him. I saw that during the preseason.
Gaudette was chosen in the fifth round (#149 overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Part of his problem last season what that the Canucks were forced to him too hard because they suffered injuries. He was promoted early in the season, and he stayed. That he couldn’t score consistently is perhaps no surprise (he had five goals and 12 points in 56 games) and at times he looked over his head defensively.
Gaudette prepared hard for training camp and looked good during preseason games. He led the team with four goals in six games, and he seemed to gain more confidence in each game he played. In fact, he outplayed almost everyone else competing for a position on the roster; and, when the team made its final cuts, he was still around. In fact, on October 3, when team photos were taken, his photo showed him to be incredibly happy to make the team (at least that’s how we interpret it here at NHLTradeTalk.com.).
Why Gaudette Was Moved to Utica
Given that Gaudette was waiver exempt, it was no surprise he was sent to Utica for more seasoning and also because the Canucks have roster and salary-cap limits to work around. The 22-year-old was among the few forwards who can be sent to the AHL without waivers.
Gaudette should develop better by playing first-line minutes for the Comets rather than fourth-line minutes with the Canucks. In fact, Gaudette’s preseason helped build the hopes of Canucks fans that he would become an additional youthful piece of a strong, young core of players such as Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, and Quinn Hughes.
What’s Next for Gaudette?
Will coach Green play Gaudette now that he’s called up? The answer tonight is that he won’t. And, if not, why not let Gaudette hone his craft in Utica where the young center can develop his skill and potential. Right now, he’s on the big club’s roster. But, will he play and will he stay? If not, I think he should be moved down.
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