A Crash Course in Patience
From 149th Pick to 13th Man
Gaudette was drafted out of the USHL after a fairly modest 13 goals and 30 points in 50 games. That same year, he got no points in four games at the World Junior A Challenge. It was a far cry from racking up points at Thayer Academy but attracted the attention of scouts. Between that and being a commit for Northeastern it’s no surprise he was selected in the fifth round.
On the other hand, when reports were assembled on him his two-way game stood out. He wasn’t an offensive standout but could claim some responsibility for team wins – including gold at the WJAC. Waiting until the fifth round in 2014 lessened the risk of drafting him. That’s where teams take North American players they’re willing to wait for.
The wait was worth it.
He found his scoring again with the Huskies, finishing his third year with 30 goals and 60 points in just 38 games. Adam Gaudette was named to the ACHA First All-Star Team and won the Hobey Baker and Hockey East Player of the Year awards. That earned him a five-game trial on the fourth line with Vancouver to end their 2017-18 season. He got no points in that audition and started the next year with the Utica Comets.
Back Again (Occasionally)
While he scored 11 points in his first 14 AHL season, it was in fits and starts as Gaudette was repeatedly moved from Utica to Vancouver and back again. He was dressed for 56 heavily sheltered games with the Canucks as an extra man. Unfortunately, the players he often replaced were bottom-6 grinders, and he couldn’t replicate their style play. His offence also wasn’t at the NHL level yet, and his opportunities – and linemates – wouldn’t help him there.
All told, Adam Gaudette’s rookie season was a typical one for most players. He was used as an extra man, subbing in when needed and working in practice to earn more. But his best stretch of play for the team was during the 2019-2020 pre-season.
If you want to make an impression, scoring six points in six pre-season games does it. He was one of the more impressive players at camp and backed it up with results, forcing the team to move veterans Sven Baertschi and Nikolay Goldobin to the minors despite Gaudette being waiver-exempt.
He dressed in three of the first four games, managing just a single assist before getting moved to the sidelines again. Benched for five games while the Canucks went on a winning streak, he was sent to Utica once again. This time he stayed just two games before rejoining the big club, playing November first against Anaheim.
Gaudette managed an assist in that game and has seven points in his last nine. He’s made a strong push for someone else to get his seat in the press box as forwards become healthy. Secondary scoring is a concern the Canucks have had for several years now, and it’s hard to picture them ignoring his finish.
Not Perfect, But Good Enough?
Five points have been on a surprisingly effective second power-play unit, so he has found a home there. At five-on-five he has been slightly unlucky, and the less said about his faceoff prowess the better. Getting used on the right side might not be Adam Gaudette’s ideal, but it will keep him on the ice. That he prefers centre makes him even more useful, and coach Travis Green likes versatility in his players.
The Canucks desperately need the style of injured players out right now to return: Micheal Ferland, Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel. When they return to health, they’ll find a spot on the team waiting for them. None of them, however, play Gaudette’s game – nor he theirs. In theory, they aren’t a threat to his ice time. In practice, he is on the bottom-6 and is waiver exempt. He’s proved he can score at this level, even if the rest of his game is still developing. Is more ice time in Utica or more practice time in Vancouver the best fit for Gaudette?
Since the team’s latest slide – two wins and eight losses this month – Canucks fans look at the start of the year with fond eyes. Management has recreated it in part:
They’re asking themselves once again if Adam Gaudette is good enough to stay – and if they can afford it.
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