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Prospect Update: Brent Gates, Jr.
By Thomas Harrington
Brent Gates, Jr. completed his junior season at the University of Minnesota. He’ll return there in this coming season for his final season of NCAA hockey.
Gates had a solid but unspectacular third season of college hockey. In 38 games, he scored 12 goals and 26 points. His 12 goals were actually two fewer than he had last year, but he had five more points this season. Gates’ 26 points were third on the team and tied for first among juniors, while his 12 goals were tied for first on the Golden Gophers. He was also second on the team with three gamewinning goals and was second with 95 shots.
A year ago, my number one priority for Gates was to improve his offensive numbers. While he did increase his assists and points, his goal totals did fall. Also, I was really hoping that he’d crack the 30 points mark, but he fell short of that by a few points. The second thing I wanted was for him to take more faceoffs. He had only taken 10 as a sophomore. Gates did take more faceoffs, but only 34 total. It’s clear that his future is on the wing and not at center. Gates didn’t quite reach the expectations that I had for him a year ago, but his point totals weren’t too far off. Plus, he was one of his team’s better offensive players, and team scoring does need to be taken into account for a player’s overall offensive totals. The good news is that Gates has improved in every year of college hockey, just not as much as I had hoped for this past season.
This coming season, I’d like to see Gates finally crack that 30 point mark. In his final season of college hockey, it would be a great sign of his development if he could reach that mark. As a senior at the University of Minnesota, I’d also like to see him take more of a leadership role with the team. Finally, it would be great if Minnesota could advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.
This will be Gates’ final year of college hockey. When it concludes, Anaheim has two options. First, the Ducks can sign him to an entry-level contract. Given his age, I believe that it will have to be a two-year contract. Second, the Ducks can choose to not sign him, and he would become a free agent next summer. He doesn’t have a high offensive ceiling, but he’s a reliable player. Right now, it’s a tough call on whether or not the Ducks sign him. Part of that will probably come down to how some of their young forwards develop in San Diego and Anaheim this coming season. If any of them regress or are used in a trade, then it’s more likely that the Ducks sign Gates in a year’s time.
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If Gates does turn pro, I’d expect him to spend at least a full year in the AHL before he gets a shot at an NHL game. Over the last several seasons, the Ducks have really let their college prospects develop slowly, and it’s worked out nicely for both Andy Welinski and Kevin Roy. While neither are surefire NHL players yet, both spent a lot of time in the NCAA and AHL before getting a shot in Anaheim, and they have been better for it. With that in mind, if Gates is signed, we are likely at least two or three years away from seeing him in the Ducks’ lineup.
The next prospect update will be on Alex Dostie.
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July 14th, 2018