Second City Hockey’s 2021-22 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2021. The rankings are determined by a composite score from all four SCH writers. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. All four ballots will be released after the series is completed.
Adam Gaudette may be one of the more interesting players to watch on the Blackhawks this season.
Vancouver drafted him in the fifth round (149th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. A few years later, Gaudette rocketed to stardom in college hockey, leading the NCAA with 60 points in his 2017-18 season at Northeastern, a performance that earned him the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player.
That spring, he also also debuted with the Canucks, playing in five games without registering a point. He split the ‘18-19 hockey season between the NHL and AHL but emerged in ‘19-20 by notching 33 points (12G, 21 A) in 59 games — a pace of about 46 points in an 82-game season.
As LBR detailed back in June, though, Gaudette’s numbers in that season were sandwiched by two less-than-stellar seasons in ‘18-19 and in 2021. The biggest reason for his points increase in ‘19-20 was due to a high number of secondary assists, a statistic with a high rate of variance — the primary assist is often directly involved with the goal, while the secondary assist may not have had as much to do with the generation of that scoring chance.
There’s undeniable offensive talent in Gaudette, given his college prowess. But he wouldn’t be the first player to struggle with a transition to the NHL after having such eye-popping numbers in college.
Gaudette maintains there was something else going on, though, as reported by Ben Pope of the Sun-Times earlier this month. As that story mentioned, Gaudette had been dealing with issues with candidiasis for years, leading to digestion issues that affected his ability to maintain his playing weight during the hockey season. On the Blackhawks’ official roster, Gaudette is listed at 170 pounds — which seems light for a 6-1 professional athlete. As of that August reporting — with those issues behind him — Gaudette told Pope that he was already up to 190 pounds and was targeting 195 or 200 by the start of the ‘21-22 season.
Will overcoming those issues turn Gaudette back into the offensive dynamo he was in college? Or was Gaudette’s performance in ‘19-20 closer to the exception than the rule on what to expect from Gaudette?
Guess we’ll find out this season.