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Gambrell Turns Pro, Signs 3 Year Contract

Gambrell Turns Pro, That didn’t take long…

The San Jose Sharks announced today that they signed Dylan Gambrell to a three-year entry-level contract. Gambrell, 21, leaves Denver University where he scored 43 goals and 89 assists for 132 points in 120 games. Last year Denver won the national championship in the Frozen Four. Gambrell was also on a championship team in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Denver University’s season ended last night with a loss to Ohio State.

Gambrell, who plays center was drafted by the Sharks in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft. The pick was initially criticized by many in the fan base including myself because of his age.  Gambrell appeared to be a high pick for a player whose ceiling would be in question as he was further in his development than most players drafted that year. Gambrell will be 22 in August making him a double over-ager at the time of his drafting. In fairness in the two drafts since he was selected over-age players have seen an increase in early round drafting. His game, however, has improved by leaps and bounds over the last two years at Denver where many started to warm up on the pick.

So what happens now?

This is the most interesting question of all. Per, Kevin Kurz, Gambrell is currently with the Sharks on their road trip and will remain with the team. It is also true that should he suit up for a game in the NHL because he is over 20 that the first year of his entry-level contract would be burned. This would leave him under contract for only 2 more years on an entry-level deal. While logic might dictate that he is only there to be a black ace and get a feel for the team and the game at the pro level. Allowing a player to burn a year of his ELC is a common tactic used by general managers to lure their prospects out of college early. If Gambrell had chosen to stay at Denver for his senior year he could have become a free agent the following August 15th. This is something that probably gave general manager Doug Wilson nightmares.

So while it is unlikely the Sharks would insert him into the lineup right now while the team is doing so well on the ice don’t be shocked to see him draw in the line up before the season ends. Next season will make for an interesting training camp. Gambrell has a game that in my opinion is ready for the NHL, he has the size, excellent on-ice vision and can skate. The question is, of course, would there be room for him on the team going into next season. The center ice position could have a significant logjam especially if Thornton returns and they add in free agency. Still, a good camp could make for some interesting decisions for the Peter DeBoer and company.

A Better Barracuda

If he ends up on the Barracuda even just to start the season it should help turn their fortunes around. With Antoine Bibeau returning in goal and a forward core that will also be bolstered with the additions of Maxim Letunov, Jayden Halbgewachs, Noah Gregor in addition to Gambrel should return the Barracuda to contender status. A healthy season from Chartier would make the Barracuda absolutely deadly down the middle. The one issue though will be the likely lack of reinforcements on the defense core which could be their undoing.

Other Notes

  • Speaking of Noah Gregor, his Victoria Royals are currently tied at one game apiece in their first-round series with the Vancouver Giants. He currently has a goal and an assist over the two games.
  • Jaydon Halbgewachs and the Red Deer Rebels are currently down two games to zero in their first-round matchup with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Halbgewachs has 2 assists so far. If the team is eliminated he will likely join the Sharks as a practice body for their playoff run.
  • Sasha Chmelevski and the Ottawa 67’s are currently tied at one game each in their first-round series with the Hamilton Bulldogs. He has 1 goal and  3 assists so far.
  • Last year’s first-round pick Joshua Norris is heading to the Frozen Four after Michigan beat Boston University 6-3. Their next opponent is Notre Dame on April 5th.
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