Welcome to the second edition of RobTheHockeyGuys’ prospect roundup. In this second edition, featuring a indepth look at Brendan Gaunce, as well as some other players in Utica that are making strides.
Brendan Gaunce – 1st round, 26th overall, 2012 NHL Entry Draft
Brendan Gaunce was expected to challenge for the vacant 3rd line centre spot on the Vancouver Canucks this season, but after a mediocre performance in training camp was assigned back to the OHL to continue his junior career. Brendan started the season with the ‘rebuilding’ Belleville Bulls (along with 2013 draft choice Jordan Subban), and was leading the Bulls with fantastic 2 way play and leading the team with 26 points in 22 games.
Gaunce also appeared in the OHL portion of the Subway Super Series but did not register any points, with the OHL losing both games to Russia. Gaunce was given the alternate captain for the games.
On November 27, the Bulls decided to trade their captain to the Lake Erie Otters as Brendan can, and likely will, turn pro next season. This trade is a fantastic opportunity for Gaunce, as he gets to play alongside young phenom Connor Mcdavid, and make a possible run for the Memorial Cup. Gaunce was also a hopeful to make the World Junior Team Canada roster this year, but was left off the orientation camp roster. However, this was not a major surprise as the coach for Team Canada, Brent Sutter wasn’t very flattering of Gaunce’s game.
Frank Corrado – 5th round, 150th overall, 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Another hopeful to make the Canucks roster out of training camp, Frank Corrado was ultimately assigned to Utica in an effort to get as much playing time as possible. Some viewed the assignment of Corrado as a setback as he had suited up in 3 regular season games for the Canucks and all of the playoff games last season but with the Canucks staying healthy on the backend, Corrado would’ve been playing sixth D minutes.
Like the entire Utica Comets, Corrado started the season slow as the team struggled to score, and keep the puck our of their own net. Frank’s season began to turn around on November 4, when the Comets signed Stanley Cup winner Kent Huskins to a PTO. Since then Huskins and Corrado have been paired together and have been a mainstay on the slowly improving Utica defence.
Alexandre Grenier – 3rd round, 90th overall, 2011 NHL Entry Draft
As mentioned during my first prospect round-up, the Canucks previously had a draft philosophy to use later picks to draft older players as the thought was that the players would be closer to their ceiling, thus can help the roster sooner. Alexandre Grenier falls into this category as he was just about to turn 20 at the time of the draft, but had just put up a point per game in the QMJHL. Given his age Grenier did not return to the QMJHL after being drafted, and instead went to Austria, the AHL , and then finally the ECHL in the 2012-2013 season. After an impressive stint in the ECHL (31 points in 37 games), the Canucks signed him to a entry level contract so that he could continue his pro career.
As I said above, the Utica Comets struggled to start the season, but Grenier was the rare bright spot on the roster as he got an opportunity to play big minutes on a line with Darren Archibald and Pascal Pelletier; and has been putting up respectable points with 12 points in 20 games. One bright spot about Grenier is that even if he isn’t putting up points, he is noticeable. He uses his large frame to get in on the forecheck and ensures to finish any check that he can.
Henrik Tommernes– 7th round, 210th overall, 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Henrik Tommernes is a very interesting project prospect. Picked with the second to last pick in the draft in 2011, the Canucks were interested and knew that other teams would try to sign Tommernes if he was unselected in the draft, thus decided to use the 210th overall pick to obtain his rights. Tommernes was a mainstay on the Frolunda D in the Swedish Hockey League before the Canucks signed him to a entry level deal.
This year is Tommernes first year in North America, and as expected did take some to adjust to the smaller ice surface. However Tommernes has put up 4 points in the last 5 games, and is running the Utica powerplay as they turn their season around. Personally I am very intrigued by Tommernes, as he is a older prospect but seems to be quickly working his way up the depth chart.
Follow Ryan Biech on Twitter: @ryanbiech