Gudbranson; A falling star?

Every year, at the ripe old age of 18, junior hockey players push themselves as hard as they can for one sole purpose, to get drafted into the NHL. A player’s main goal is to get drafted either first, second or third so that he may get a chance to play right away in the NHL to help a struggling team.

Every year the first, second and third overall drafted players do in fact play in the big leagues right away. But, as we look at 2010, this has changed. Both Hall and Seguin impressed in camp, but third overall Erik Gudbranson, who was picked by the struggling Florida Panthers, did not make the move to the NHL, despite making the team out of training camp.

Reasoning behind this? He felt he was better than the money which the Panthers Organization placed before him. He thought that his skill level, and what he could bring to the Panthers club, was much more superior then what his new team thought.

To many Panthers fans, it came as a surprise to hear Gudbranson’s name called third overall in the Entry Draft, as many thought that Brett Connolly of the Prince George Cougars or Ryan Johansen of the Portland Winterhawks would be selected to help address their goal scoring needs.

It was also a surprise, seeing as Gudbranson missed 27 games of the regular season due to mononucleosis. Many scouts knew he was good, but due to missing so much time, it was questioned if he was actually better than Cam Fowler of the Windsor Spitfires.

When training camp rolled around, and the Panthers opened pre-season play, many people still questioned the play of Gudbranson, but he stepped up his play, and impressed the coaching staff, but they still were not confident enough to dish out the money which Erik desired, so he left the Panthers and returned to juniors.

Erik was selected to represent Canada in the 2010/11 IIHF world junior championship. He had a good tournament picking up five points, as he played a big role on the Canadian blue line, a team which went into the tournament not expecting to score many goals. But, in the final game against the Russians, Gudbranson’s play began to fall apart. He started to show that he does not perform well in key situations and cracks under pressure. No Canadian will ever forget the great collapse of the Canadian squad as they were up 3-0 after 2 periods and lost 5-3. Well, despite nobody pointing fingers, the go ahead goal is all because of Gudbranson, as he lost the puck in his own end. Then, as Vladimir Tarasenko went behind the net, Gudbranson did not follow him, nor did he place pressure on him, as Tarasenko flipped the puck out front to Artemi Panarin who put it past Mark Visentin for the 4-3 lead.

Now, almost a month later reports have surfaced that Gudbranson has been suspended for eight-games by the OHL for a dirty hit on Oshawa Generals J.P. LaBardo. It is no doubt a dirty his, as it was a retaliation after LaBardo elbowed Kingston Frontenacs’ goaltender Philipp Grubauer. Gudbranson can be seen leaving his feet as he hurls himself at LaBardo.

“The suspension is the result of a charge on J.P. Labardo,” said OHL vice-president Ted Baker in a statement released by the league. “Eric left his feet, and the hit was in retribution for a hit that Labardo had just delivered to Kingston goalie Philipp Grubauer.”

This however is the second suspension for Gudbranson in as many weeks. His own team, the Kingston Frontenacs, suspended the third-overall pick one game for internal issue last week.

This, troubles me as a Panthers fan, as Gudbranson’s value, and good attitude seems to become weaker and weaker as time passes on. It appears as the Panthers Organization did the right thing by holding off on giving Erik the money which he sought after.

But, the thing which worries me the most is the question whether we have another Alexandre Daigle on our hands. Questions arise as to have we wasted our third overall selection swirl in my head.

The only thing I can do, is hope that Erik will settle down, and start to get his game back on track, as he has seven goals and 18 points in 29 games this season. Hopefully, he will play to the potential equivalent to the money which he had asked for, and become a key player for our organization.

Personally, I do think Gudbranson will pick up his play, as he has a lot of time to think about his play, and focus on getting back to his original self, and he is no doubt a great player after all. But, my question is, do you think he can regain his form, and play like a third overall pick is expected to play like?

Adam Reid
adam_mapleleafs@hotmail.com

The video clearly shows the dirty hit preformed by Gudbranson in slow motion.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi_0swwSN7g

10 Comments

Patrick Storto's picture

I don't know what the problem with the offer was, but if you take a player 3rd overall, you should be prepared to offer that player the maximum rookie salary.

Gudbranson probably would have received that max had he been drafted elsewhere.

Daniel_W's picture
Patrick Storto wrote:

I don't know what the problem with the offer was, but if you take a player 3rd overall, you should be prepared to offer that player the maximum rookie salary.

Gudbranson probably would have received that max had he been drafted elsewhere.

The max for an entry level is .875m isn't it?

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture
Daniel_W wrote:
Patrick Storto wrote:

I don't know what the problem with the offer was, but if you take a player 3rd overall, you should be prepared to offer that player the maximum rookie salary.

Gudbranson probably would have received that max had he been drafted elsewhere.

The max for an entry level is .875m isn't it?

not if add bonus clauses

Adam Reid's picture
Patrick Storto wrote:

I don't know what the problem with the offer was, but if you take a player 3rd overall, you should be prepared to offer that player the maximum rookie salary.

Gudbranson probably would have received that max had he been drafted elsewhere.

- I agree, but the team must have noticed something in his play after he had been selected. Maybe they noticed his type of gameplay once he was in the majors. It doesn't make sense. Even the maximum salary isn't that bad, unless it was a move made by the organization to really see how Gudbranson would pan out with the spot light on him, and as of now, he has shown plenty of cracks.

Alicia Sprenkle's picture

Wow. This was a really interesting article. I honestly didn't know that any of this had happened. One can only hope that a little maturing will change Gudbranson's attitude. Maybe he needs someone to pull him aside and have a long talk with him. Going 3rd overall even if it was a shock shows that the kid has talent. You'd hate to see it get wasted.

Adam Reid's picture
Alicia Sprenkle wrote:

Wow. This was a really interesting article. I honestly didn't know that any of this had happened. One can only hope that a little maturing will change Gudbranson's attitude. Maybe he needs someone to pull him aside and have a long talk with him. Going 3rd overall even if it was a shock shows that the kid has talent. You'd hate to see it get wasted.

-Exactly, the way I see it is talent or not, he was still our third overall selection. In order for him to get selected higher than Fowler, scouts noticed something in him, but whatever skill it is, he is losing it too fast. He is starting to slide down a slippery slope. Fowler is a regular player in the Ducks lineup because they need the help on the blueline, but the Panthers defensive line is by no means, any better than the Ducks, they need him like the Panthers need Gudbranson, his talent needs to be brought out before he becomes a waste.

Mitch H's picture

Okay, this is all good and wonderful. But several things are being missed here.

First, part of the reason Gudbranson was taken so high last year is because the kid plays with an edge. He's not afraid to go over the line in defence of a teammate - which is what he was doing here - and he's not afraid to physically impose his will on a game. Everyone, including Dale Tallon I'm sure, knew he had this side in him when they drafted him. After watching him a few dozen times at the OHL level, I sure as hell knew, so I'm sure the Cats did.

Second, what's being lost in all this hubbub is that Gudbranson's actually having a stellar season. As of the date of his suspension, he had 7 goals, 11 assists and 79 penalty minutes in 29 games. Over the full 68 game OHL schedule that puts him on pace for 16 goals, 26 assists and 184 penalty minutes. Given that the primary concern with Gudbranson at the draft last year was offensive upside and his comparable at the time was Chris Pronger, all three of these stats should be causes for celebration, not concern.

Third, yes he sucked in the Gold Medal Game. So did most of his team. But this overlooks the fact that for the six games prior, he and Simon Despres were the only Canadian defenders not on the ice for an Even Strength goal against. Every player is allowed one bad game.

Fourth, Kingston is something like a .300 team with Gudbranson out of the line up and something like a .650 team when he plays. He's also the reigning OHL Scholastic player of the year and speaking as someone who's met the kid, he's got a lot on the ball. I wouldn't worry about him.

Adam Reid's picture
Mitch H wrote:

Okay, this is all good and wonderful. But several things are being missed here.

First, part of the reason Gudbranson was taken so high last year is because the kid plays with an edge. He's not afraid to go over the line in defence of a teammate - which is what he was doing here - and he's not afraid to physically impose his will on a game. Everyone, including Dale Tallon I'm sure, knew he had this side in him when they drafted him. After watching him a few dozen times at the OHL level, I sure as hell knew, so I'm sure the Cats did.

Second, what's being lost in all this hubbub is that Gudbranson's actually having a stellar season. As of the date of his suspension, he had 7 goals, 11 assists and 79 penalty minutes in 29 games. Over the full 68 game OHL schedule that puts him on pace for 16 goals, 26 assists and 184 penalty minutes. Given that the primary concern with Gudbranson at the draft last year was offensive upside and his comparable at the time was Chris Pronger, all three of these stats should be causes for celebration, not concern.

Third, yes he sucked in the Gold Medal Game. So did most of his team. But this overlooks the fact that for the six games prior, he and Simon Despres were the only Canadian defenders not on the ice for an Even Strength goal against. Every player is allowed one bad game.

Fourth, Kingston is something like a .300 team with Gudbranson out of the line up and something like a .650 team when he plays. He's also the reigning OHL Scholastic player of the year and speaking as someone who's met the kid, he's got a lot on the ball. I wouldn't worry about him.

Thanks, Mitch, despite all of the negativity, there is no doubt a lot of positive aspects to Gudbransons game just like you said above. He is preforming well this season, and getting points, which is definitly an upside.

The Scholastic player of the year award was last season, so I can't really talk on that.

Its just, for a third overall pick, do you think he is actually a better player than Cam Fowler?

Does a player, who knows his team performs terrible without him in the lineup get off the hook for his hit, just because his goaltender got hit? Sure, its good to stand up to the player, but everyone knows, from midget to pro, that you do not leave your feet when laying a check.

Also, the fact that he was suspended one game by his own team, and then 8 games a week later, really make me worry about what is going on with this guy!

Mitch H's picture
Adam Reid wrote:
Mitch H wrote:

Okay, this is all good and wonderful. But several things are being missed here.

First, part of the reason Gudbranson was taken so high last year is because the kid plays with an edge. He's not afraid to go over the line in defence of a teammate - which is what he was doing here - and he's not afraid to physically impose his will on a game. Everyone, including Dale Tallon I'm sure, knew he had this side in him when they drafted him. After watching him a few dozen times at the OHL level, I sure as hell knew, so I'm sure the Cats did.

Second, what's being lost in all this hubbub is that Gudbranson's actually having a stellar season. As of the date of his suspension, he had 7 goals, 11 assists and 79 penalty minutes in 29 games. Over the full 68 game OHL schedule that puts him on pace for 16 goals, 26 assists and 184 penalty minutes. Given that the primary concern with Gudbranson at the draft last year was offensive upside and his comparable at the time was Chris Pronger, all three of these stats should be causes for celebration, not concern.

Third, yes he sucked in the Gold Medal Game. So did most of his team. But this overlooks the fact that for the six games prior, he and Simon Despres were the only Canadian defenders not on the ice for an Even Strength goal against. Every player is allowed one bad game.

Fourth, Kingston is something like a .300 team with Gudbranson out of the line up and something like a .650 team when he plays. He's also the reigning OHL Scholastic player of the year and speaking as someone who's met the kid, he's got a lot on the ball. I wouldn't worry about him.

Thanks, Mitch, despite all of the negativity, there is no doubt a lot of positive aspects to Gudbransons game just like you said above. He is preforming well this season, and getting points, which is definitly an upside.

The Scholastic player of the year award was last season, so I can't really talk on that.

Its just, for a third overall pick, do you think he is actually a better player than Cam Fowler?

Does a player, who knows his team performs terrible without him in the lineup get off the hook for his hit, just because his goaltender got hit? Sure, its good to stand up to the player, but everyone knows, from midget to pro, that you do not leave your feet when laying a check.

Also, the fact that he was suspended one game by his own team, and then 8 games a week later, really make me worry about what is going on with this guy!

You're asking a bunch of different questions.

First, I wouldn't read too much into his being suspended by his team. It happens to Major Junior players all the time. The most common cause? Sneaking out after curfew to meet a girl. Now, that wasn't what happened here. Gudbranson got into it with his coach. Also something that happens all the time when you're dealing with teenagers. The same thing happened with Derek Roy in Kitchener some years ago.

Second, it's always easy to look at a draft the next year and say "hey what's going on here, we took Player X but Player Y was drafted later and has had more of an impact!" Remember, the article points out that if the Cats had simply ponied up the dough for him, one can only guess how he'd be performing with the Cats this season. I still have no doubt that in terms of physicality and defence, Gudbranson will prove worthy of being selected ahead of Fowler.

Did he cross the line in responding to Labardo? Absolutely. He probably would have been better off just ragdolling Labardo in the fight, but you anticipate these kinds of things with a player like Gudbranson. You remember a couple years ago when Rob Niedermayer and Chris Pronger drove Tomas Holmstrom into the boards in the Conference Finals? Earned Pronger a two game suspension. But he's a Hall of Fame defender, shouldn't he know better?

It's the Mad Man Theory of intimidation. If your opponent doesn't know how far you'll cross the line to deal with them when they take liberties, they're less likely to do it. That doesn't make it right but when it comes to players like Pronger or now Gudbranson, it's a part of who they are.

Adam Reid's picture
Mitch H wrote:
Adam Reid wrote:
Mitch H wrote:

Okay, this is all good and wonderful. But several things are being missed here.

First, part of the reason Gudbranson was taken so high last year is because the kid plays with an edge. He's not afraid to go over the line in defence of a teammate - which is what he was doing here - and he's not afraid to physically impose his will on a game. Everyone, including Dale Tallon I'm sure, knew he had this side in him when they drafted him. After watching him a few dozen times at the OHL level, I sure as hell knew, so I'm sure the Cats did.

Second, what's being lost in all this hubbub is that Gudbranson's actually having a stellar season. As of the date of his suspension, he had 7 goals, 11 assists and 79 penalty minutes in 29 games. Over the full 68 game OHL schedule that puts him on pace for 16 goals, 26 assists and 184 penalty minutes. Given that the primary concern with Gudbranson at the draft last year was offensive upside and his comparable at the time was Chris Pronger, all three of these stats should be causes for celebration, not concern.

Third, yes he sucked in the Gold Medal Game. So did most of his team. But this overlooks the fact that for the six games prior, he and Simon Despres were the only Canadian defenders not on the ice for an Even Strength goal against. Every player is allowed one bad game.

Fourth, Kingston is something like a .300 team with Gudbranson out of the line up and something like a .650 team when he plays. He's also the reigning OHL Scholastic player of the year and speaking as someone who's met the kid, he's got a lot on the ball. I wouldn't worry about him.

Thanks, Mitch, despite all of the negativity, there is no doubt a lot of positive aspects to Gudbransons game just like you said above. He is preforming well this season, and getting points, which is definitly an upside.

The Scholastic player of the year award was last season, so I can't really talk on that.

Its just, for a third overall pick, do you think he is actually a better player than Cam Fowler?

Does a player, who knows his team performs terrible without him in the lineup get off the hook for his hit, just because his goaltender got hit? Sure, its good to stand up to the player, but everyone knows, from midget to pro, that you do not leave your feet when laying a check.

Also, the fact that he was suspended one game by his own team, and then 8 games a week later, really make me worry about what is going on with this guy!

You're asking a bunch of different questions.

First, I wouldn't read too much into his being suspended by his team. It happens to Major Junior players all the time. The most common cause? Sneaking out after curfew to meet a girl. Now, that wasn't what happened here. Gudbranson got into it with his coach. Also something that happens all the time when you're dealing with teenagers. The same thing happened with Derek Roy in Kitchener some years ago.

Second, it's always easy to look at a draft the next year and say "hey what's going on here, we took Player X but Player Y was drafted later and has had more of an impact!" Remember, the article points out that if the Cats had simply ponied up the dough for him, one can only guess how he'd be performing with the Cats this season. I still have no doubt that in terms of physicality and defence, Gudbranson will prove worthy of being selected ahead of Fowler.

Did he cross the line in responding to Labardo? Absolutely. He probably would have been better off just ragdolling Labardo in the fight, but you anticipate these kinds of things with a player like Gudbranson. You remember a couple years ago when Rob Niedermayer and Chris Pronger drove Tomas Holmstrom into the boards in the Conference Finals? Earned Pronger a two game suspension. But he's a Hall of Fame defender, shouldn't he know better?

It's the Mad Man Theory of intimidation. If your opponent doesn't know how far you'll cross the line to deal with them when they take liberties, they're less likely to do it. That doesn't make it right but when it comes to players like Pronger or now Gudbranson, it's a part of who they are.

Great response, pretty much just answered everything right there!

Hopefully the arguement with staff was just a minor thing, nothing to big such as giving up on the team, or thinking he is better.

As for what was said earlier, it does not make sense for the Cats to go draft this guy third overall, in hopes that he would help the team and not expect to pay the full max salary to get him, if this was the case, they should of traded the first rounder to get something before the draft.

And finally, yes. I do like his physical style hockey, just like Pronger. But, the thing is, I just hope that this isn't an everyday occurance, as he should know better than to do this on the ice in a game. He is no doubt underpressure, so I guess with everything else comes suspensions and discipline, it all contributes to the learning process.