It’s been a long road to this point for Glenn Gawdin.
A fourth round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2015, Gawdin couldn’t come to terms on a contract with his draft team and wound up signing with the Flames a few months after attending their 2017 prospect development camp.
Gawdin has progressed mightily in each subsequent year after signing with Calgary, eventually earning his first NHL call-up this past February. He couldn’t crack the lineup during his brief tenure with the Flames in 2019–20, but it’s looking pretty likely that he’ll finally make his NHL debut this coming season.
For now, he’s at #8 on our list.
How did we get here?
Gawdin enjoyed a solid WHL career with the Swift Current Broncos between 2013 and 2017, scoring roughly at a point-per-game clip in both of the two years immediately after he was drafted. He was voted as the Broncos’ team MVP in 2016–17, scoring 26 goals and 59 points in 52 games, but the Blues let his draft rights expire following that season.
After Gawdin attempted the Flames’ development camp in the summer of 2017, he returned to Swift Current and made the Blues look foolish for letting him go. He exploded with 56 goals and 125 points in 67 games playing on a line with Aleksi Heponiemi and Tyler Steenbergen, signing an entry level contract contract with the Flames in November and helping the Broncos reach the 2018 Memorial Cup along the way. He scored nine goals and 26 points for the Broncos during the Ed Chynoweth Cup playoffs and was named the league’s playoff MVP.
Gawdin debuted for the Stockton Heat in the 2018–19 season. He enjoyed a reasonably successful season as part of a Heat team that could score reasonably well but which lacked solid defense and goaltending. He finished eighth on the Heat with 11 goals and 38 points in 64 games, tied in scoring with Matthew Phillips (who played one more game and scored two more goals).
In his AHL sophomore season, Gawdin once again exceeded expectations, becoming one of Stockton’s primary offensive drivers and earning an invitation to his first AHL All-Star Classic.
Stats, numbers, and everything therein
Gawdin led the Heat with 47 points in 2019–20, scoring 16 goals and 31 assists in 53 games. Sure, Gawdin finished behind Alan Quine, Austin Czarnik, Dillon Dube, Oliver Kylington, Ryan Lomberg, and Byron Froese in terms of points-per-game, but all of those players played fewer games than he did last season (Dube, Kylington, Czarnik, and Lomberg played 69 games combined) and only Froese is likely to remain with the Heat next year. This off-season, Quine signed with Edmonton, Czarnik signed with the New York Islanders, and Lomberg signed with Florida; meanwhile, Dube and Kylington are probably NHL regulars for Calgary at this point.
It’s arguable that Gawdin may also be an NHL regular for Calgary next year. His gaudy offensive totals last year in all situations and his prowess on the penalty kill will likely make him an appealing option for Flames coach Geoff Ward. Gawdin’s 18 power play points led the Heat in 2019–20.
Gawdin already has one pro game under his belt for the 2020–21 season. The Flames loaned Gawdin to the Swiss club EHC Visp back in October and made his debut in Switzerland’s second-tier league earlier this month, registering no points. Visp released Gawdin on Nov. 13 to allow him to prepare for the Flames’ upcoming training camp.
Those in the know
Heat coach Cail MacLean favourably compared the offensive and defensive sides of Gawdin’s game to his teammate and captain, Froese:
I think that where we saw a good progression with Glenn is, we would talk about it a lot this season, is just about how he wanted to assert himself, much like Byron Froese has established himself as a premier centre in the AHL, and to be able to hold himself up to that kind of standard of consistency in his play. Not only production but just his all-around 200 foot game and I thought that Glenn did a really nice job at that throughout the year, sorta climbing to a position where he and this veteran player, who is in my opinion one of the best in the American Hockey League, they were right up there together in a situation where you could use Glenn in many many situations and feel really comfortable with him, whether it was power play or penalty kill or defensive moments, whenever it was. Real good progression for him there.
On the horizon
Gawdin will probably be a victim of the numbers game to start 2020–21. Dominik Simon, Josh Leivo, and Joakim Nordstrom are all very likely to stick with the Flames following training camp and their cap situation likely keeps the roster at 22 players, at least to begin the season. It’s easy to see Gawdin replicating or even surpassing his offensive output with the Heat this coming year if he spends any substantial amount of time with them.
With Quine, Lomberg, and Czarnik out of the picture, Gawdin will likely be competing with Phillips, Buddy Robinson, and Froese to be the Flames’ first call-up this year. He’s a right-handed centre who can also take shifts on the wing, and his versatility will probably be what gives him a leg up on the other three (they all also shoot right, strangely enough).
Gawdin probably slots in as a bottom-six centre at the NHL level, at least to begin with. He has a great shot and can hold his own admirably in his own zone, attributes that will work to his advantage if the Flames try him out in a bigger role. For now, the Flames likely see him as a potential Derek Ryan replacement in a year or two — and that’s nothing to scoff at.
FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2020