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Hockey, Sports

Just how excited should Canucks fans get about Adam Gaudette?

Rob Williams Mar 27, 2018 1:20 pm 1,202

The Adam Gaudette hype train is here, everybody.

Given the way the Canucks’ season has gone, we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s already out of control.

I mean, Canucks Nation is basically Gaudette’s grandmother when he got drafted right now.

Gaudette arrived in Vancouver on Monday night, shortly after signing his first pro contract. The 21-year-old from Braintree, Massachusetts had his college career come to an end on Saturday, when his team was eliminated from the NCAA playoffs.

A fifth round selection by Jim Benning in 2015 with pick acquired by Mike Gillis (in exchange for Raphael Diaz, of all people), Gaudette’s stock has risen fast. His Twitter handle is Hockey_Gaud and management must be hoping this is a rare time that the hockey gods shine some light on Vancouver.

Gaudette will make his debut on Thursday, meaning he’ll get into a maximum of just five NHL games this season.

If he manages to do anything of significance, you can bet that fans will be slotting him into the second-line centre role immediately.

Is that fair? Of course not. But it’s reality when fans have been following prospects in other leagues as much as players on the NHL team in their own city lately.

Nobody really knows how Gaudette will adjust to the NHL because every player deals with it differently. When you play against bigger, faster, and better players, everything changes.

Brock Boeser took a similar route to the NHL and everyone thought that too much was expected of him before his first NHL season. Travis Green must have agreed, as he scratched his best player for the first two games.

Whatever you thought Boeser was going to be coming into this season, he was even better. That’s not the norm, though it does give hope.

“Watching what Brock did this year, another NCAA guy, that showed me I can come in and have an impact too,” Gaudette told reporters after his first NHL practice on Tuesday.

Gaudette leaves the NCAA as its highest scorer this season, with 60 points (30-30-60) in 38 games with Northeastern University. If you compare those numbers to Boeser’s college production, it’s easy to get carried away.

Gaudette produced 52 points (26-26-52) in 37 games during his draft +2 season last year. Boeser, who was slowed by injuries, scored 34 points (16-18-34) in 32 games in his second NCAA season.

Boeser did score 60 points as an 18-year-old with the University of North Dakota though, matching Gaudette’s production this year as a 21-year-old.

So the comparisons are unfair. Gaudette is a different player.

More of a Ryan Kesler type.

Ok, that’s unfair too.

“I like to model by game around Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews,” Gaudette told Daily Hive last year.

He’s not making this easy on himself, is he?

“I try to be that 200-foot guy that can produce and be used in all situations – important faceoffs, on the power play and penalty kill, or late in games on a 6-on-5.”

It’s clear that Gaudette has some swagger to his game.

An energetic two-way centre, judging by his goal-scoring celebrations, you can tell that he loves to score goals.

He’s also going to wear No. 88 – so you know he’s not shy.

“The type of game I play allows me to score from wherever,” he said. “It’s just about being in the right place and knowing where to go. I think a part of my game that’s huge for me is trying to shoot the puck from wherever I can – I feel like my shot is one of my strong points, but I’m definitely not afraid to bang in a greasy rebound because a goals a goal, no matter what.”

Gaudette’s 60-point season is the 42nd-highest point total in NCAA Division 1 hockey since 2000. So he’s not a generational talent by any means.

But he is a player you should be excited to see.

Given that he’s defensively responsible, Gaudette could earn the trust of the coaching staff relatively quickly.

Once he does that, he’ll have an opportunity to prove he belongs as an offensive player. He has the potential to become the type of player the Canucks desperately need: a two-way centre that’s a pain in the neck to play against, while producing offence.

That may take time for him to grow into that role and it’s not inconceivable that he starts next season in the AHL.

How far Gaudette can go, nobody knows, but one thing’s for certain: he’ll make the final five games a whole lot more interesting to watch.

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