Glenn Gawdin, brought in as a free agent signing by the Calgary Flames back in 2017, was one of the most divisive prospects among TWC writers. He was ranked as high as sixth by two TWC writers, and as low as 15th and even unranked by one writer. He was the only prospect ranked in the top-10 who was left off of someone’s list. Needless to say he hasn’t convinced everyone yet that he’ll be an NHL mainstay.
Gawdin’s on-ice results
After lighting up the WHL as a over-ager during the 2017–18 season and finishing second in the league for points, Gawdin made the jump to the AHL for 2018–19 season. In his debut season in the AHL Gawdin put up a solid 38 points in 64 games as one of the youngest players on the roster. He also added 59 penalty minutes that year, showcasing the physical and gritty side to his play as well.
In the following 2019–20 season, Gawdin was tasked with taking on a much larger role with the Stockton Heat as the likes of Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane graduated into full time NHLers, while veterans like Curtis Lazar, Tyler Graovac, and Kerby Rychel moved on to new organizations. This cleared the path for Gawdin to be a key contributor for the Heat and he took full advantage of it.
Gawdin wasn’t high on most people’s prospect lists going into the 2019–20 season, however that season ended up being the year he broke out and jumped onto the radar as someone who had a legitimate shot at being an NHL player for the Flames in the future.
Gawdin would lead the Heat in scoring that year, putting up 47 points in 53 games as a 22-year-old. That total landed him tied for 20th league-wide in the AHL. His impressive season also earned him an AHL all-star nod along with teammate Matthew Phillips.
This most recent season was all over the place for Gawdin, mainly due to the pandemic. To start the season he was loaned to Visp EHC in the Swiss League due to the delayed AHL season, however he ended up playing just one game overseas. The Flames recalled him after his first game in Switzerland for the team’s training camp after it was announced the NHL season would be starting in January.
As the AHL season didn’t begin for the Heat until the end of February, Gawdin was recalled to the Flames’ taxi squad at the beginning of February. He ended up making his NHL debut on the team’s fourth line in a game against the Edmonton Oilers on February 20th. He played five games for the Flames in February—scoring no points—before being returned to the Heat for the AHL season.
Once back with the Heat, Gawdin played primarily on Stockton’s second line. He would go on to put up a respectable although slightly disappointing 13 points in 22 games, good for sixth on the team. He was later recalled to the Flames in May following the completion of the shortened AHL season. He slotted into two games in May, registering his first career NHL point, an assist against the Ottawa Senators on May 9th. It certainly wasn’t a beauty, but it still counts.
Gawdin’s strengths and weaknesses
Gawdin isn’t a flashy or superbly skilled player, however what he does bring to the table is some responsible two-way play. He has shown at both the WHL and AHL level that he can be trusted at both ends of the ice in various situations. He’s played on both the penalty kill and the power play in the AHL. As a natural centreman that can be a very valuable trait at the NHL level, and could allow a player like Gawdin to carve out a nice role in the Flames bottom six.
Gawdin has shown in the past that he can bring a physical element to his game as well, which is also something that could help him earn a role in the Flames’ bottom-six next season. In one of his only games of the season under Darryl Sutter, Gawdin threw a bone-crushing hit on the Senators Artem Zub. Certainly a good way to get on a coach like Sutter’s radar going forward.
As mentioned Gawdin isn’t the most skilled guy, but that doesn’t mean he will never bring offense to the table. In junior, Gawdin was a lethal sniper, scoring 82 goals over his last 2 seasons in the WHL. He possesses a solid shot, and was 13th in the WHL during his final year in the league in 2017–18 with 277 shots. He could stand to use his shot more going forward though as he registered just 39 shots in 22 games in the AHL last year. Here’s an example of where he uses his shot and is rewarded with a goal.
Gawdin also has some solid hockey IQ and playmaking skills. He’s registered 67 assists in 139 career games in the AHL, good for just under 0.5 assists per game. He ranked third on the Heat for assists during the 2018–19 season, and ranked higher at second during the 2019–20 season. Here he is showcasing some of that playmaking ability this past season.
One of his biggest weaknesses is his overall skating. He’s never been the strongest skater as he lacks overall speed and explosiveness. This will limit him from ever taking on a larger role on a team in the top-six, however his other skills will allow him to still contribute in the bottom-six.
Gawdin will never be a big point producer or top-six player in the NHL. If he does make the jump to a full time player in the NHL, it will be as a depth option at forward. Given the Flames’ lack of depth in the bottom-six over the past couple years, Gawdin would be a very welcome addition to the lineup if he can put it all together at the NHL level.
He will need to work on finding some more consistency in his game if he wants to earn a regular spot in the lineup though. However if he continues his development he could turn into a prototypical responsible bottom-six two-way centre.
Gawdin’s next steps
As one of the Flames’ most NHL-ready prospects, Gawdin will be given every opportunity next year to make the Flames roster out of training camp. He is an RFA going into the offseason, but I would be very surprised if the team doesn’t bring him back on another one year “prove it” type deal. This most recent season, the organization showed its confidence in Gawdin by making him one of the first names called up from the Heat either for the taxi squad or the Flames’ active roster when needed.
With the news of Joakim Nordstrom leaving for the KHL, Derek Ryan most likely leaving in free agency and the essential certainty that Dominik Simon won’t be back next year, the team will need some depth forwards to fill out their roster. Gawdin should be one of the first names the team looks to to take one of those spots.
With a new look coaching staff for this upcoming training camp, it will be up to Gawdin to impress Darryl Sutter and company and show them that he deserves to be in the NHL. He certainly has the tools to be a decent depth option for the Flames next year, and could bring a little more offence to the table compared to who the team trotted out on their fourth line last year. If he can’t make the team in 2021–22 though, it could be his last in the organization.