With the 20th pick in SB Nation's 2012 NHL Mock Draft, Broad Street Hockey has selected Brendan Gaunce, a forward from the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League.
At this stage of the draft, it's very much "best available player" for the Flyers or any team. The overwhelming question will be why we didn't pick a defenseman, but the truth is that defensemen generally take much longer to develop than forwards. Unless the Flyers are in a top-10 spot in this draft -- meaning they're getting a player who can contribute sooner than later -- selecting a player based on current organizational need isn't the way to go.
We could have taken Slater Koekkoek or Ville Pokka with this pick (and trust us, we almost did based on name alone), but each of those players have their own risks attached. We believed Gaunce was the best player available on the board, and he was ranked 13th among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
Besides, Gaunce just sounds like a Flyers draft pick.
Gaunce is never going to be the type of player to wow you with dynamic offensive flair, but you can rest assured he brings more than enough to the table. As one of the top two-way forwards in the draft, Gaunce has developed into a player that a coach can feel confident in putting on the ice in any situation. He has good size and competes hard, winning lots of puck battles and being a difficult player to contain. His game is centered around his ability to do the little things and his intangibles, such as leadership, are qualities that separate him from others. Gaunce is still a very capable offensive player and has a good scoring touch, especially around the net.
Gaunce may not have the natural gifts and talent as the premier center prospects (though I believe he does), but he might be one of the most complete players in the entire draft. He's in the perfect mold to become a top power forward in the league with his size, skill and toughness; aspects of his game that will only get better as he matures. As you can see from his assists, he's a talented playmaker first and a goal scorer second. He has a good hard shot and great vision.
While he doesn't play with much flash, his skill with his size helps him create offense when driving the net, continuing the cycle, or just winning puck battles. But lets not forget that he has a solid shot that he compliments his physical play with, making him a dangerous forward in the offensive zone.
No, he may not be the fastest forward, but from what I could tell in the U-18 tournament with Canada, he was efficient and while he did lack jump and speed, he still managed to constantly be an effective forechecking forward, dishing out hits or just putting pressure of the puck carrier. He may not be the fastest player at doing so, but he still managed to do so.
Oh, and he's on Twitter.
A two-way center who has the versatility to play wing, Gaunce is a safe pick at No. 20, but the potential is there for him to become a steal as well. If the Flyers are going to stick at this draft spot on Friday evening in Pittsburgh, we'd be fine welcoming a player like Gaunce into the organization.