Glenn Gawdin had a heck of a 2017-18 season. The 2016-17 year ended with his Swift Current Broncos losing in the second round of the playoffs, Gawdin going unsigned by the St. Louis Blues and then going unclaimed in the 2017 NHL Draft.
But his following season saw his fortunes radically swing the other way: he had an offensive explosion, he got signed by the Calgary Flames, and the Broncos won the Western Hockey League Championship with Gawdin as captain. He heads into his pro years as one of the Flames’ most interesting prospects.
How did we get here?
Originally from Richmond, BC, Gawdin played much of his minor hockey in the Vancouver area. He was a star player with the Seafair Islanders midget team, captaining them and putting up over two points per game in 2011-12. That performance earned him the distinction of being the fifth overall selection in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, going to the Broncos. The following season he was just over a point per game with the midget Greater Vancouver Canadians.
Gawdin made the jump to full-time WHL duty in 2013-14, with 22 points in 66 games as a rookie used in a secondary role. He doubled his offensive output in his sophomore season with 54 points over a full 72-game schedule as he crept more into the Broncos’ top six group and was relied upon more for scoring. He was ranked 59th among North American skaters by Central Scouting that season and was selected 116th overall by the Blues. His third WHL season saw him improve to a point-per-game offensive output (53 points in 53 games) and his fourth whirl around that circuit saw him improved to 59 points in 52 games while serving as team captain in 2016-17.
But between concerns about his developmental ceiling and likely some worries about him missing 19 and 20 games the prior two seasons, the Blues didn’t sign Gawdin prior to the June 1, 2017 deadline. He re-entered the draft and went unclaimed, but the Flames liked him enough to offer him an invite to development camp and then the fall’s rookie camp. He eventually signed an entry-level deal in November.
Stats, numbers, and everything therein
Gawdin spent his overage season in the WHL, his fifth full season in that league.
Let’s get it out of the way right out of the gate: Gawdin was an overage player who played the bulk of the season on a line with Tyler Steenbergen and Aleksi Heponiemi, two very good junior players who had strong offensive numbers prior to their teaming. But the trio just clicked like few have in the WHL, with all three of them hitting the 100-point mark.
Gawdin enjoyed the biggest breakout of the trio, nearly doubling his previous career high in points and finishing second in the WHL in scoring. He missed five games (primarily late in the season) as he dealt with a nagging upper-body injury. He finished five points behind Moose Jaw’s Jayden Halbgewachs in the scoring race, but he got the last laugh when (a) the Broncos eliminated the Warriors from the playoffs, (b) the Broncos won the WHL championship, and (c) Gawdin was named playoff MVP.
Good overage players usually have good offensive seasons, but Gawdin’s was impressive even by those standards.
For a further look into Gawdin’s numbers, revisit Christian Tiberi’s writeup here.
Those in the know
Seattle-based WHL beat writer Andy Eide (of 710 ESPN Seattle) has seen a lot of Gawdin throughout his junior career. He summed up Gawdin’s impressive overage campaign.
As an overager, Gawdin centered one of the most potent lines in the CHL. He more than doubled his previously high point total with 125, which was second overall in the WHL. Serving as captain for the Swift Current Broncos, he was perhaps at his best in the WHL Championship series. He potted five goals in the six-game series with Everett, highlighted by his spectacular hat trick in Game 3 which included a diving shorthanded goal late to tie the game and the overtime winner. The Broncos won it all to earn a Memorial Cup berth and Gawdin added 14 goals and 32 points in their 24 playoff games.
Traci Kay covered the Broncos this past season as a beat writer for Dub Network. She praised Gawdin’s abilities as the team’s on-ice leader, including drawing some comparisons to Jarome Iginla’s performances with the Kamloops Blazers during their Memorial Cup runs.
As captain, his role was to motivate his team and lead them to the best of their abilities. I don’t remember seeing leadership like his since the 1980s. He took the team from the bottom to the top alongside Manny Viveiros in a matter of three years. Gawdin was his teammates’ biggest cheerleader. He wasn’t even playing in the Canada/Russia series but he still showed up. He was there, supporting his teammates and cheering them on. When others fell behind a little, he was there to keep them motivated and determined to do their best. He did this by example. He worked harder, skated faster, and showed the team what was expected of them and they always followed his lead.
On the horizon
Gawdin has used up his junior eligibility (and burnt off the first year of his entry-level deal based on when he was signed), so he’s headed pro in 2018-19. He’s potentially the only right-shot center on the Heat roster – Matthew Phillips is a righty, but more of a winger – and so he’ll get a lot of opportunities based upon his qualities and skill set.
He might not be a high-end scorer at the pro level, but he’s a smart two-way player who already has a pro-sized frame. The big question will be how quickly he figures out the timing of the AHL game and whether or not he has the speed to keep up.
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