We are now into June, marking the month that most NHL teams are now fully into the off-season. With the 2012 NHL Draft only a few weeks away, it is time to start looking at possible prospects the Dallas Stars are looking at with the 13th overall selection. Today I will start with the prospect I selected on behalf of the Stars in the Fansided 2012 NHL Mock Draft (pick and article here), center Brendan Gaunce. In each post I will look at the prospect, what he brings to the table, where he could go in the first round, and why the Stars should be looking at him. Follow Blackout Dallas on Twitter and LIKE on Facebook for more discussion!
The former Ontario midget AAA scoring champ (55 goals with 93 assists in 86 games) had an interesting two years with the Belleville Bulls in the OHL after they selected him 2nd overall in 2010. He finished his first season with only 36 points in 65 games, sporting a -31 rating on a team that had a rough year. While he impressed as a rookie, there were things still left to be desired. But this last season he put up a point and penalty minute per game, with 20 goals and 68 points to go with 68 PIM in 68 games. He even chipped in three points in six playoff games after being held scoreless in four the spring before.
While he might never return to the deadly scoring machine he was in midget play, he will definitely never be called that on the ice. Gaunce comes into the draft with great size at 6’2″ and around 210 lbs, looking like a man among boys when compared to some 0f the other forwards. And what he does with that size is what impresses many scouts. Brendan has developed into one of the best two-way players in this summer’s draft. He wins battles in both ends of the ice, fights his way to the tough spots, knows where to go in the offensive end, and can win faceoffs. As a center he might not become an elite scorer but he does look like one of the types of players many organizations would love to have as a key part of their future.
Why the Dallas Stars should draft him: Because he could fill a huge hole that the organization has. The Stars are not only weak at the center position at the NHL level (and that is without even thinking about Mike Ribeiro possibly leaving after the coming season), but they are without ANY center prospects in the ranks. Gaunce would not only give them a good 1st-round center, but one that does everything you would want out of a big, power forward. He plays like a true center and can win faceoffs, he works on both ends of the ice, he can score and play physical at the same time, and he has great habits and intangibles that show he could definitely be a leader. While he might not have the high-end offensive abilities like a few guys at the top of the draft, he could be a great 2nd line center that can play in all situations and jump up to the top-line at times.
He will be drafted around: Watch for him to come off the boards around 10th to 17th. While his possible lack of top offensive abilities compared to some prospects could scare a few teams, his all-around game, size, and character are very impressive. He could definitely make the jump to the NHL sooner than many guys drafted around him, and that might help his stock.
NHL players that he compares to: He looks similar to Jordan Staal and David Backes.