On Thursday, the Colorado Avalanche waived defenceman Brandon Gormley. The 23-year-old was a first-round pick in the 2010 Draft (13th overall) and was named the top defenceman at the 2012 World Juniors. Now, just 58 games into his NHL career, he’s on the waiver wire.
Waivers: BRANDON GORMLEY
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) January 7, 2016
It’s always interesting to go back and read the draft day comments on a player like this, and in Gormley’s case it’s particularly interesting because he slipped on draft day.
“He’s really well-rounded, but he’s not dynamic,” a scout told The Hockey News (who had him ranked No. 7). “He does everything well. Lots of nights you leave the rink thinking he wasn’t very flashy, but you didn’t notice him making any mistakes either.”
The publication quoted another scout describing him as “the kind of guy” who most Stanley Cup winners have, and predicting a 15-year NHL career. It also suggested that he might well be picked as high as third overall, ahead of Cam Fowler and Erik Gudbranson.
McKeen’s Hockey liked him too, ranking him the fifth-best available prospect and noting that he’d been a first overall pick in the QMJHL Draft and had been named the league’s best pro prospect. It described his game thusly:
Gormley is a low maintenance but reliable defenceman with a solid build. His hockey sense is one of his greatest attributes as he thinks the game very well in his own zone and displays great composure. His fluid, all-around mobility and strength in his outlet passes enables him to transition from defence to offence rather seamlessly. Gormley has good vision and makes smart, efficient plays at the line. He lacks the requisite shot to become a dangerous option on the power-play, but he keeps his shot low to the ice. Gormley still needs to work on his foot-speed but he projects to be a consistent, versatile performer capable of logging top four minutes and playing in all situations.
Should the Oilers look at him?
Gormley played two seasons in the QMJHL after being drafted, scoring at a point-per-game pace both years. He then played a little over two years in the AHL, developing into a pretty decent offensive defender with the Portland Pirates. He made the jump to full-time NHL work midway through last season, playing 27 games with the Arizona Coyotes and recording four points.
The Coyotes flipped him to Colorado for another young defenceman, Stefan Elliott, a move which brought a right shot to Arizona and sent a left shot to the Avs.
With Colorado, Gormley has had a measure of success on a pairing with Zach Redmond, his most regular partner. With that duo on the ice, the Avs have scored 53.8 percent of all goals and record 51.2 percent of all shot events at five-on-five—ridiculous numbers for a Colorado team that routinely gets crushed on the shot clock and basically crosses its fingers hoping that Semyon Varlamov can save the day.
Gormley’s a pretty interesting player. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, and his cap hit right now is just over $850,000. He’s quite young, his underlying numbers are decent, and there’s no risk involved here; he’d basically be filling the same spot in the Oilers’ system that Martin Marincin filled and with Edmonton’s current blueline injuries there’s room for him right now.
Complicating matters is Edmonton’s depth on the left side. Griffin Reinhart will be back at some point, they may want to see David Musil play in the NHL before making a waiver decision on him next year, and right now power play specialist Brad Hunt is in the top-six. In some ways adding Gormley would be adding an asset for the sake of adding an asset.
However, it’s also worth keeping in mind the trade deadline. There’s a good chance the Oilers will be shipping out defencemen, and having Gormley around as a stopgap wouldn’t be the worst thing, particularly given that his contract is up at the end of the year and it will be possible to just walk away if that’s desired.
If Gormley was a right shot, this would be a no-brainer. Even with him being a left shot, I’d be inclined to put in a claim.