As the offseason continues, decisions about the direction the Vancouver Canucks will take continue to leak out.
The latest comes (once again) from Sportsnet's Rick Dhaliwal.
But while the choice to cut ties with Derrick Pouliot was a foregone conclusion, the decision to let Brendan Gaunce walk was a little more unexpected.
Gaunce has been a Canuck since he was drafted by the club in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Since then, he’s been able to put up solid numbers with the AHL’s Utica Comets but hasn’t been able to crack the Canucks roster with any sort of consistency.
This season, he played three games, registering three points and generally playing no-event hockey. That is, nothing especially good or bad happened when he was on the ice. His underlying numbers were strong in those contests, as they’ve been for most of his career in the NHL.
So while it’s not a huge deal that the Canucks are parting ways with Gaunce, the question does become one of “why?” He makes close to the league minimum and could have been retained for that.
And, it must be said, he’s probably a better option on the team’s fourth line when you consider his salary than any of Tyler Motte, Tim Schaller, Loui Eriksson or Jay Beagle.
Would you rather have Beagle (34 in October!) at three more years of $3 million per season or 25-year-old Gaunce at the league minimum? It’s an easy call for us. It’s Gaunce. He plays capable (if boring) hockey and does so at a great price.
It really just makes last offseason’s acquisitions of Beagle and Schaller in particular look pointless. Gaunce could fill those roles.
Will another grab Gaunce? Probably. They’d be well advised to add him to their depth. Sure, he can start the season in the AHL, but would be fine as a call-up, as he’s proven.
He’s the kind of cheap player teams stash in their bottom-six and trust to keep the score neutral while the stars get some rest. Having players like Eriksson and Beagle in those spots just means you don’t have as much room under the salary cap for your stars.
If the Canucks haven’t learned that yet, they will when the likes of Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes enter contract negotiations in a couple years.
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