Ducks 2020 Draft Spotlight: Noel Gunler Adds Offensive Creativity to 1st Round

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - DECEMBER 03: #8 Noel Gunler of Lulea HF warms up prior the Champions Hockey League match between Lausanne HC and Lulea HF at Vaudoise Arena on December 3, 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - DECEMBER 03: #8 Noel Gunler of Lulea HF warms up prior the Champions Hockey League match between Lausanne HC and Lulea HF at Vaudoise Arena on December 3, 2019 in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images) /
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LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – DECEMBER 03: #8 Noel Gunler of Lulea HF in action during the Champions Hockey League match between Lausanne HC and Lulea HF at Vaudoise Arena on December 3, 2019, in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS.Media/Basile Barbey/Getty Images)
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – DECEMBER 03: #8 Noel Gunler of Lulea HF in action during the Champions Hockey League match between Lausanne HC and Lulea HF at Vaudoise Arena on December 3, 2019, in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS.Media/Basile Barbey/Getty Images) /

Speculation Could Still Be Cause for Concern

Tipped to go around 14th in the draft, Gunler might appear to be a bit of a reach, and in a lot of ways, he is. But, before delving into the nitty-gritty, let’s tick the obvious things off of the list. First things first, Gunler is a Swede. I’m just going to leave that there and let you think about what that means. Yep, that’s right. He’s as good as a Duck. Let’s all welcome him to Swedenheim. Well, perhaps not so fast.

With Gunler it’s worth getting the warts out of the way first, before talking about the good points. The biggest and most glaring of all, and one that given General Manager Bob Murray‘s temperament may be the kiss of death, is a perceived attitude problem stemming from a lack of maturity. It is worth considering here though, that these concerns are seemingly speculation for the most part.

At least, there were very few tangible proofs that I could find, thus the discussion seems to be a product of assumption. On one hand, where there is smoke there is fire, but on the other hand, it’s worth noting the immortal words of Mitch Hennessey (Samuel L Jackson, The Long Kiss Goodnight):

"“Everybody knows, when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of you and umption.”"

The first of the checkmarks on Gunler’s resume, that we can prove at least, are him going off at team officials when he was left off of the Swedish U18’s roster. This gives pause to two different issues: 1) that he went against team officials for what he considered a slight, and 2) that there must have been some unpublicized reason for him to be left off of that roster. Let me be very clear. There is no scenario in which Gunler was not a better option than the players who were selected ahead of him. That he is so clearly the superior player certainly alludes to something else going on. However, that is mere speculation.

However, rumors abound that these same attitude problems are the reason he was kept off of the U20’s at the World Junior Summer Showcase. A team he also wouldn’t have looked out of place on. There is even a simplistic argument that Gunler was more deserving of a roster spot than the other two players in Sweden’s “Big Three.”

At that time, Gunler had played 15 SHL games scoring 5 points, whereas his counterpart Lucas Raymond had played in only 10 games for 2 points. Alex Holtz had played in only 3 SHL contests for no score. Where there is smoke there is fire. Thus, it will be up to Gunler to show that he can make strides to become a model citizen, as it has already hurt his draft stock by not playing with these teams, and not being able to play in the Hlinka Tournament, though the Hlinka is no fault of his own.

The second red checkmark was an incident in the SuperElit League in which pushed over a linesman in a scrum. A scenario where players lay hands on officials will not be welcome within the Ducks organization and not in the NHL. While it may be unlikely to occur again, it does provide an insight into the Swede having a temper that he’s not currently able to control.

This second point, however, may not necessarily be the kiss of death for Gunler, that other attitude problems could be. In fact, it may be the reason he becomes a Duck. Bob Murray has taken chances on young players with perceived attitude problems in the past. For instance, the Patrick Maroon trade is one of the best in his tenure with the Ducks.

Murray also recently drafted power forward Max Jones, who has a multitude of attitude and maturity issues. Both players turned out well for the Ducks. Neither player has the offensive skill set that Gunler can bring. Should he manage to toe the line between feisty and aggressive, all the while bringing his skills to the fore, he will very likely make a team very, very, happy somewhere down the road. That team should maybe be the Anaheim Ducks.