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: General overview of Vaudoise Arena before 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: General overview of Vaudoise Arena before 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) /

Is Noel Gunler Worth the Anaheim Ducks First Round Pick?

For a risk-averse manager such as Bob Murray, all of the negative points might trump the positive and be enough for the Ducks to look elsewhere. In some way’s Gunler has the feel of a teen high school sports star resting on their laurels and relying on their skills.

For alongside this percieved attitude, comes “poor” effort defensively, and a seeming unawareness of what to do and where to go when the puck is not on his stick. It feels like he feels he can be effective without putting in too much effort. Ducks fans will appreciate this to some degree, as we lived through the “Getzlaf is lazy” narrative for too many years.

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However, in Gunler’s case, there may be some truth to it. Too often, instead of rushing back hard to on the backcheck, he might be seen heading to the bench to change. In the offensive zone, he may not rush to find space when the puck is not on his stick. When added to the perceived attitude problems that circulate about him, it may be enough for Gunler to drop in the mid-teens, or even as Arthur Kaliyev found last year, out of the first round entirely.

However, due to the lethal nature of his offensive game, Gunler might be the most polarizing and intriguing player in this season’s draft class. Due to a strong birthday day will now remind me to get my sister something, he’s my favorite of the Ducks possible draft selections. I highly suspect they go for a more highly touted prospect at their predicted landing spot, however, if they were to procure another 1st round pick I wouldn’t hesitate to jump on Gunler and wrap him up tightly. To be frank, I wouldn’t be upset if they took a flyer on him in the top 10.

The caveat in doing this is that it’s highly likely Gunler will take time to really develop his game. If the Anaheim Ducks drafted him early expecting him to contribute in the immediate future then they would be sorely disappointed. However, should he be able to slowly percolate out of the public eye, then I believe that he will both mature mentally, and develop the physical attributes that would mitigate all of his downsides and strengthen all of his already significant upsides. The talent is undeniable. It only remains to be seen whether the mind and body catch up.

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