With its first selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft (second round, 50th overall), the Colorado Avalanche selected defenseman Cameron Gaunce from Mississauga St. Michael's of the Ontario Hockey League.
This past season, Gaunce was named to the OHL All-Rookie Team after leading his team’s defensemen in scoring with 40 points (10g/30a) in 63 games - a total that ranked 12th among league rookies.
A self described two-way defenseman who can play all facets of the game and is not afraid to stand up for his teammates, Gaunce was the recipient of the 2007-08 Majors Tim Horton Defenseman of the Year Award.
Like most players on Draft day, Gaunce was a bit overwhelmed by the experience of being selected.
“A million thoughts are going through my head right now. It’s hard to describe the feeling,” said Gaunce. “I can’t put the sheer excitement and enjoyment of this experience into words. It kind of hit me when I heard my name called, but I still haven’t quite come to grips with being drafted by the Avalanche organization.”
Gaunce is no stranger to playing with top-end talent, as he spent 11 years with the Markham Waxers organization. With the Waxers, Gaunce was teammates with fellow 2008 draftees Steven Stamkos (1st overall – Tampa Bay Lightning), Cody Hodgson (10th overall – Vancouver Canucks) and Michael Del Zotto (20th overall – New York Rangers).
“This past year was my first year playing outside the Waxers’ organization, and those 11 years were a great experience,” said the 6-0, 203-pound blue liner. “I played with Steven for six years and Michael for four or five, while Cody was with us off and on for five or six years. It’s great to be sharing this experience with them.”
Both a level-headed player and person, Gaunce knows that the 2008 NHL Entry Draft is just the first step toward establishing himself as an NHL-caliber player. The defenseman knows there is still plenty of work to be done.
“I see myself most likely playing junior hockey for a year or two to fully develop myself and continue my development any way Colorado would like me to,” said Gaunce.
Avalanche Chief Scout Ted Hampson said the Avalanche were glad to grab Gaunce when he was still on the board as the 50th overall selection came about.
“He’s a solid character player and has a good feel for the game,” said Hampson. “He’s got good size and strength. He’s got a lot of leadership and a lot of desire to play.”
Hampson also assessed the Avalanche’s Draft class as a whole, a group he summed up as having both good character and skill.
“It was a very deep draft. We were getting into the mid-to-late rounds with players we felt very positive about and other teams also felt that way," said Hampson. "We feel that we added a good young group to the Avalanche roster and we’re looking forward to watching them develop.”