We have arrived at the first prospect on this list to have already played NHL games for the Calgary Flames.
24-year-old centre Glenn Gawdin appeared in his first seven big-league contests for Calgary last season, notching an assist along the way.
Gawdin also spent time in the American Hockey League and the second-tier Swiss League in 2020–21. After emerging as the No. 1 centre for the Stockton Heat in 2019–20, Gawdin saw his spot stolen by an upstart Adam Ruzicka this past year and struggled to establish a rhythm while splitting time between the AHL and NHL.
Needless to say, Gawdin is still a talented player with an excellent shot. He’s slightly cantankerous and a reliable penalty-killer who appears to be on the precipice of becoming a full-time NHL player.
Gawdin amassed 79 points in our rankings, tying him for ninth place; he slots in at No. 10 on the basis of only appearing on seven of the eight top-20 lists submitted by our participating voters.
Born Mar. 25, 1997 (age 24) in Richmond, BC
6’1,” 191 pounds
Drafted in the fourth round (116th overall) by STL in 2015
In the two seasons following the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, it didn’t look like Gawdin had much to offer in terms of dynamic upside. He tracked somewhat similarly to Flames 2018 fourth-round pick Milos Roman, scoring at around a point-per-game pace in his age-18 and age-19 seasons but failing to distinguish himself on a strong Swift Current Broncos team.
Much like how Roman’s time in Calgary’s system ended, Gawdin was not offered a contract by the Blues following the 2016–17 WHL season and returned to Swift Current as an unsigned overager for the 2017–18 season.
After being released by the Blues, Gawdin attended Calgary’s summer development camp in 2017 and established introductory relationships with the club’s various personnel. He also skated for the Flames at the 2017 YoungStars tournament in Penticton.
Once Gawdin returned to the WHL, Broncos head coach Manny Viveiros named him team captain and slotted him alongside Aleksi Heponiemi and Tyler Steenbergen on the top line. It’s unlikely even Viveiros expected Gawdin would score 70 goals and 157 points in 91 games combined between the 2017–18 regular season and playoffs. The Steenbergen-Gawdin-Heponiemi line carried Swift Current all the way to the WHL championship and the Memorial Cup.
Gawdin signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Flames less than two months into the 2017–18 season and joined the club’s professional ranks the following year. He immediately established himself as a capable AHL player, tying for seventh on the 2018–19 Stockton Heat with 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) in 64 games.
In 2019–20, Gawdin led the Heat with 47 points and tied for fourth with 16 goals. The 22-year-old earned his first berth in the annual AHL All-Star Classic and received his first NHL recall on Feb. 17, 2020. Gawdin skated in warm-ups but did not play for the Flames that night; he was reassigned to Stockton two days later.
Gawdin missed Stockton’s first four games in 2020–21 while bouncing between Calgary’s taxi squad and main roster. He appeared in his first NHL game on Feb. 20, 2021, taking just 12 shifts for a total of 6:04 in a 7-1 loss to Edmonton. Two nights later, Gawdin played just 2:16 as the Flames blanked the Maple Leafs by a 3-0 score.
After receiving very little ice-time in his first five NHL games, Gawdin returned to Stockton in time for the final three-quarters of the team’s early-season eight-game winning streak. With Adam Ruzicka on fire in Gawdin’s old No. 1 centre spot, Gawdin played a lesser role for the Heat and scored just three points (one goal, two assists) in his first six AHL games of the season.
Gawdin eventually started getting closer to his usual rhythm and finished the season with 10 points in his final 16 AHL games. He returned to the NHL for two more contests in May — this time, under Darryl Sutter — and earned a little more ice-time, recording his first assist (on a goal by Michael Stone) and taking his only NHL shot of the season while playing a season-high 11:13 in a 6-1 win over Ottawa on May 9.
Sheeeesh, Michael Stone with an absolute rocket 🚀 pic.twitter.com/JPRQjY3qR1
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 10, 2021
All told, Gawdin finished the 2020–21 season with four goals and 13 assists in 22 AHL games. He added a lone helper in seven NHL contests and was held without a point in the one Swiss League game he played with EHC Visp prior to the start of Calgary’s 2020–21 training camp.
Expectations for 2021–22
Gawdin had a difficult time finding his stride in 2020–21. He split the season between three leagues and had many of his responsibilities assumed by Adam Ruzicka during his first stint in the NHL.
Last season was, in a word, complicated. Considering Gawdin’s relatively consistent upward trajectory prior to the 2020–21 campaign, it’s likely safe to cut him a bit of slack for stumbling in a chaotic year. While he didn’t reach his previous heights on offence, he still helped positively influence play and finished the season with a +2.22 relative on-ice goals-for percentage at even-strength (according to Pick224).
— Mike Gould (@miketgould) March 27, 2021
2021–22 should more closely resemble a typical season and, now another year older, Gawdin will have a small margin for error before his status in the organization falls into jeopardy. He’ll turn 25 before the end of the season. At this point, it’s time for Gawdin to make it with the Flames or make his way into another organization.
Right now, the Flames’ fourth-line centre spot is wide-open. With his waiver-eligible status and league-minimum cap hit, Gawdin looks to have the inside track to start the year with the Flames.
If Gawdin can’t carve out a niche in the NHL or return to his all-star ways in the AHL, he might soon be on the move.
2021 FlamesNation Prospect Rankings
The no-votes | On the bubble | #20 Ilya Solovyov | #19 Cole Huckins | #18 Rory Kerins | #17 Johannes Kinnvall | #16 Martin Pospisil | #15 Yan Kuznetsov | #14 Emil Heineman | #13 William Strömgren | #12 Dan Vladar | #11 Emilio Pettersen | #10 Glenn Gawdin