The Colorado Avalanche may draft too late to pick Noel Gunler. If he drops, though, he’s a player the team would like.
The Colorado Avalanche will have a late 20s draft pick — the exact draft order will be determined by the results of the playoffs. So, they’ll be selecting a player they expect to develop for a few years.
The team is pretty solid from front to back. So, the 2020 NHL Draft will be about ensuring that they continue to be stacked in the years to come.
Colorado often likes to draft a forward in the first round. Now, obvious exceptions were their two fourth-overall players, Cale Makar and Bowen Byram. However, those drafting also mean the Avs are especially deep at defense, especially when you throw Conor Timmins into the mix.
One option I’m sure the Avalanche scouts have on their draft board is winger Noel Gunler out of Sweden. The 6-foot-2, 174-pound prospect is ranked #9 for EU skaters by Central Scouting. He’s projected to go as high as #14 and as low as #22 — so probably not in Colorado’s range.
You never know when a prospect is going to drop, though. So, let’s look at what Gunler has to offer.
Noel Gunler Stats
Gunler started full time in the SuperElit league, Sweden’s major juniors, in 2017-18. In that year, he earned 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists) in 41 games.
The following season he was a sight better. In 31 games, he recorded 46 points — 27 goals and 19 assusts. He even earned some time with the top men’s league, the SHL. He played 15 games and recorded five points (2 goals, 3 assists).
This last season he did play four games with his SuperElit club, recording 4 goals and 2 assists in 4 games. He spent most of the season in the SHL. In 45 games, he recorded 4 goals and 9 assists for 13 points.
He’s expected to return to the SHL next season.
Noel Gunler Highlights
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Bill Placzek of DraftSite appreciates Gunler’s scoring abilities:
"“Already playing in the SHL, he is an established creative scoring machine. Sets up on the right wall on the power play. Displays a strong wrist snap shot. Pure shooter and excellent finisher who gets in position for one timers.”"
Once you get to players outside of the top 10, you typically see areas where they need development. For Placzek, he’d like to see Gunler develop his skating. The scout calls it “a little wonky” in the stride. However, he sees goo power in his base and good balance.
Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey agrees that Gunler’s skating needs a little work. He observes that Gunler is very speedy, calling his speed high-end. Th scout also praises his agility and edgework. However, Kerr would like to see the prospect improve his lower body strength so he’d have better balance.
Kerr has great appreciation for his offensive skills, though:
"“Gunler is a pure, natural sniper. He can score in a variety of ways. He has a heavy wrist shot with a good release; an excellent slap shot and one-timer; a quick and accurate snapshot; a strong backhand; the hands to deke a goaltender as well as to put the puck through tight spaces; and the hand-eye coordination to get tip-ins and rebounds.”"
The scout also praises his hockey IQ.
Let’s check him out:
I can see the wobble, but it’s fun to see him score.
Noel Gunler and the Colorado Avalanche
As noted, Gunler is not expected to fall too late in the first round of the draft. If he does, though, I could see the Colorado Avalanche selecting him.
Noel Gunler is a work in progress. He needs to bulk up a bit, smooth out his skating, and maybe pick up some defense. However, you can see the raw talent the kid has. He’s got the speed and the goal-scoring — Colorado would appreciate that.
They’d probably want Gunler to spend just one more year in the men’s league in Sweden. Then it would be time for him to join the AHL and learn the North American game. In three years, though, he could well be a player the Avalanche want to plug into the system.
The Colorado Avalanche don’t need to rely on this year’s draft for help now. Noel Gunler would be a nice piece of help for the future, though.