A day after Vancouver celebrated the careers of the two greatest players in Canucks history, two players hoping to be a big part of the team’s post-Sedin future accomplished something special themselves.
Adam Gaudette was named the winner of the 2018 Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey. Meanwhile, Jonathan Dahlen completed his mission and led Timrå IK to promotion from the Allsvenskan to the Swedish Hockey League.
Let’s start with Gaudette, who has made a good impression with Canucks fans over the last four games in the NHL. In particular, he’s shown some chemistry with Jake Virtanen, with their north-south games complementing each other nicely.
“I like that he’s not afraid to make a play,” said Canucks head coach Travis Green after Thursday’s game. “You can tell that he sees the right play, offensively and defensively. He’s not forcing plays, he sees the play and makes it. If there isn’t, he’s not afraid to put a puck to an area.”
“You can tell at times that...he’s going to have to get stronger,” he continued, “and that’s only going to help him.”
Gaudette made plenty of plays for Northeastern University this past season: his 30 goals and 60 points in 38 games led the NCAA. On Friday, it was confirmed that Gaudette was the 38th winner of the Hobey Baker Award.
Gaudette got it! pic.twitter.com/1IitJD94ar— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) April 6, 2018
He’s the first ever Canucks draft pick to win the Hobey Baker, though various Hobey Baker winners have played for the Canucks over the years: most notably Brendan Morrison and Ryan Miller, but also Tom Kurvers and Jason Krog.
Not all Hobey Baker winners go on to sparkling success, but Gaudette’s style of play and statistical profile bodes well for a solid NHL future, most likely as a third-line centre, with a little room for a higher ceiling.
Jonathan Dahlen, on the other hand, projects as a top-six forward.
Dahlen had an incredible season for Timrå, leading the Allsvenskan in points-per-game with 23 goals and 44 points in 44 games. His outstanding performance carried Timrå to the top of the table, giving them a chance to battle for promotion to the SHL.
It’s the reason why Dahlen stayed with Timrå instead of transferring to a team already in the SHL. He wanted to finish what he started.
The postseason culminated in a best-of-seven series against Karlskrona, who were trying to stave off relegation from the SHL. Dahlen was held off the scoresheet in the first two games, as Karlskrona took a 2-0 lead, but he wouldn’t be denied in game three.
Dahlen erupted with a three-point night, in which he had 10 shot attempts, six of them on goal. He scored another goal in game four, but it wasn’t enough. A 4-2 Karlskrona win gave them a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Faced with a must-win game, Dahlen delivered, scoring an important insurance goal early in the third period enroute to a 3-1 win.
Game 6 was even more dramatic, as Karlskrona led the game three times, only to have Timrå respond every time. Dahlen had a team-high four shots on goal and an assist on one of the tying goals as his team completed the comeback in the third period to force Game 7.
Timrå led from start to finish, scoring 44 seconds into the game. Dahlen added a goal in the third period on a ridiculously lucky bounce, banking the puck in off a defender’s helmet, leading to a 2-0 win.
Dahlen led all players in the postseason with 8 goals and 14 points in 10 games. He’ll be a legend in Timrå; now he begins the next chapter as he heads to North America. He’ll likely join the Utica Comets next week.
He’s following in the footsteps of another Timrå legend: Henrik Zetterberg. Expected a similar career out of Dahlen is asking a bit much, but Zetterberg also carried Timrå to SHL promotion and also led the postseason in scoring with 14 points in 14 games that year.
Instead of going straight to North America, Zetterberg played two more seasons with Timrå in the SHL, then joined the Detroit Red Wings. Dahlen, on the other hand, will be aiming to make the NHL out of training camp next season.
These are two fantastic accomplishments for Gaudette and Dahlen and will only serve to heighten the hype for both players as they look to kick-off their careers with the Canucks.