A year ago, Glenn Gawdin was a player without a home. Originally a fourth round selection of the St. Louis Blues in the 2015 NHL Draft, he wasn’t signed by them and went through the 2017 Draft unclaimed. But his fortunes began to turn when he accepted an invite from the Calgary Flames to attend development camp.
Development camp turned into prospect camp, and prospect camp turned into main camp. By mid-November he had an entry-level contract inked with the Flames and his overage season became an exuberant punctuation mark on a solid junior career. He finished second in the WHL in scoring with 125 points – more than double his previous season’s total and four points shy of the top spot – and he captained the Swift Current Broncos to a WHL Championship, being named the league’s most valuable postseason player.
Given his goal of eventually suiting up in the NHL, signing with the Flames was a big milestone for Gawdin to hit.
“It was a dream come true,” said Gawdin at Flames development camp. “Something I’ve been working towards for a long time now, and I think it’s just the beginning. Obviously it’s just one step in the direction I’m trying to go, obviously going in the right direction and gonna continue to work.”
A veteran of five full seasons in the WHL – and over 300 games – Gawdin is a classic example of a player that came into junior at 16 and worked his way up. Now he’s headed into the uncharted waters of pro hockey, and he’s aware that he’ll have to start from scratch once again.
“In junior you kind of know where you fit in and what your position is and now you’re trying to earn that,” said Gawdin. “For me, I’m trying to show them what kind of player I am and I can fit in all different situations. I think for them it’s trying to find a good fit and I’m willing to take any position or role I’m given.”
Gawdin’s introduction to pro hockey comes at an interesting time for the organization. The NHL club added the likes of James Neal, Elias Lindholm and Derek Ryan to their ranks, while the depth group now has Buddy Robinson, Tyler Graovac and Alan Quine – all players with NHL experience. Gawdin is one of the young players that sees these veteran additions as a challenge rather than a roadblock.
“I think those guys are professionals,” said Gawdin. “They’ve been in the league for awhile – depends who it is, obviously. So it’s good to see where they are, their habits, how they work and then all that stuff that you can bring back and put into your game. Obviously try to get to that next level they’re already at.”
It’s natural to be skeptical about Gawdin’s incredible offensive leap last season. Maybe it was triggered by him being an overage player. Maybe it was his development kicking in and his offensive talents from prior levels catching up to his two-way play. Maybe it was because he played a lot with Tyler Steenbergen and Aleksi Heponiemi. Regardless of how it happened, his performance has earned him (at least) three years of pro hockey to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
Based on his no-nonsense, focused approach to development camp, he could be somebody to watch come the fall.