Washington state native Dylan Gambrell made a name for himself in his rookie campaign at the University of Denver centering British Columbia native Danton Heinen, and Californian Trevor Moore on what became known as the 'Pacific Rim' line, which became one of college hockey's most feared and most effective scoring lines.
That line led the Pioneers to this year's Frozen Four, and helped Gambrell, in his third and final year of draft eligibility, to become an almost certain pick in this year's Draft.
Player: Dylan Gambrell
Team: University of Denver(NCHC)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 183 lbs.
Stats: 41 games, 17 goals, 30 assists, 47 points, +14
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 67th among North American skaters
What I Like:
Gambrell is a strong skater, especially with his first few steps which allows him to reach top speed very quickly. He utilizes that speed effectively on both offense to gain zone entry and defensively when pressuring on the puck. He's excellent at taking away time and space for forcing the opposition into mistakes.
-Active with the puck
One of the reasons the Pacific Rim line had so much success last year was because Gambrell excelled playing with the puck on his stick, thus creating space for Heinen and Moore away from the puck. HIs speed and quickness allowed him to beat defenders one-on-one with the puck, forcing the defense to help and creating opportunities for Moore and Heinen to slip into vacated areas for quality scoring chances. To use a basketball analogy, he's like a lightning quick point guard that can penetrate the lane and draw in the defense, leaving a spot-up jump shooter wide open.
-Productive scorer in NCAA
This was mentioned in an earlier profile on Mikey Eyssimont, but the list of top rookie scorers in the NCAA last year had some extremely impressive prospects on it and Gambrell is right in the middle of that group:
What I Don't Like:
-Slim track record
Gambrell has been passed over twice in the Draft before because prior to this season, he was a decent scorer in the USHL, but nothing remarkable. It wasn't until a breakout season this year as a rookie at Denver, playing on a line with Danton Heinen and Trevor Moore that his numbers really increased and he became a draft prospect. He was by no means a passenger on that line, but his numbers may just be the product of a really fortunate situation.
NHL Central Scouting says late-third/early-fourth for Gambrell and I more or less agree. Because he's a little older prospect, I don't think he quite has the same high ceiling as some of the younger players available in the Draft, but he looks like a really solid prospect and in a Draft where the overall talent level is kind of iffy, I can't see him staying on the board too deep into Day 2.
Part of what makes Gambrell so intriguing is his versatility. He plays center, though could easily move to wing, and though he has some scoring punch to perhaps be a second line forward in the NHL, he could be very effective in a bottom six role some day.