Though he doesn’t quite qualify for Group VI status, it looks like Brendan Gaunce will get to unrestricted free agency a bit earlier anyway. Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet reports that the Vancouver Canucks are unlikely to issue Gaunce a qualifying offer this offseason, meaning he will join Derrick Pouliot in looking for a new home.
Gaunce, 25, is another first-round pick that hasn’t worked out for the Canucks. Selected 26th overall in 2012, his offensive game stagnated in junior and he never quite grew into the top-end power forward they had hoped for. In 117 games at the NHL level, Gaunce has recorded just six goals and 15 points playing in a mostly fourth line role. While the results in the AHL have been considerably better—111 points in 189 games—he hasn’t shown enough for the Canucks to risk getting locked into a contract through arbitration.
If he does not receive a qualifying offer, Gaunce will be free to sign a contract with any team in the NHL and hope a fresh start will get his career back on track. An analytically-minded front office might believe there is some potential still there given his solid possession metrics in the NHL, but given his limited production it seems unlikely he will be able to land a one-way contract.