Canucks sign Brendan Gaunce to two-year, one-way contract

 

 
 
 
 
Brendan Gaunce warms up before a Jan. 20, 2017, game against the Florida Panthers at Rogers Arena. He has been re-signed by the Canucks to a two-year contract worth $750,000 per year.Gerry Kahrmann, PNG
 
 

Brendan Gaunce warms up before a Jan. 20, 2017, game against the Florida Panthers at Rogers Arena. He has been re-signed by the Canucks to a two-year contract worth $750,000 per year.Gerry Kahrmann, PNG

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, The Province

The Vancouver Canucks have signed forward Brendan Gaunce to a two-year, one-way contract worth an average of $750,000 annually.

Canucks GM Jim Benning made the announcement Wednesday.

Gaunce, 23, had five assists (0-5-5) and 33 penalty minutes in 57 games played with Vancouver in 2016-’17.

In a season which saw Gaunce mostly toil on the fourth line, a unit which did well enough defensively but struggled to score, it’s not surprising the Canucks sought to highlight Gaunce’s hit rate in their press release.

He took heat from fans for his donut in the goal column, but there are many who think if he’s given skilled wingers, he could be a big contributor.

A native of Sudbury, Ont., Gaunce was selected by Vancouver in the first round, 26th overall, at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Gaunce came into pro hockey carrying question marks about his skating ability, but also high marks for his hockey sense and playmaking.

His skating improved markedly by the time he made his NHL debut in 2015-16.

He made the move to pro hockey in 2014-15 with the Utica Comets and struggled at first, but made himself into almost a point-per-game player by his second season in the AHL.

The 6-2, 217-pound forward also had two goals and an assist in four appearances with Utica last season.

In his first NHL season in 2015-’16, Gaunce had one goal in 20 appearances. He also had career highs in goals (17), assists (21) and points (38) in 46 games with the Comets.

A native of Sudbury, Ont., Gaunce was selected by Vancouver in the first round, 26th overall, at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Canucks director of player development Ryan Johnson singled out Gaunce’s work to make himself into a NHL player last month.

“He was all in from the time we said go,” Johnson said last month. “From skating to working out to learning the game. His commitment to his skating program.”

Now the question is, can he find an offensive game?

pjohnston@postmedia.com

twitter.com/risingaction

 
 
 
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Brendan Gaunce warms up before a Jan. 20, 2017, game against the Florida Panthers at Rogers Arena. He has been re-signed by the Canucks to a two-year contract worth $750,000 per year.Gerry Kahrmann, PNG
 

Brendan Gaunce warms up before a Jan. 20, 2017, game against the Florida Panthers at Rogers Arena. He has been re-signed by the Canucks to a two-year contract worth $750,000 per year.Gerry Kahrmann, PNG

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, The Province

 
Brendan Gaunce warms up before a Jan. 20, 2017, game against the Florida Panthers at Rogers Arena. He has been re-signed by the Canucks to a two-year contract worth $750,000 per year.Gerry Kahrmann, PNG
Christian Dean fronts up during a Whitecaps pre-season camp in Jan. 2016.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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