University of Denver center Dylan Gambrell, the San Jose Sharks’ 2016 second round pick, will return to school this fall for his junior season as the Pioneers look to defend their National Championship, the 20-year-old told the Denver Post.
“It’s been absolutely amazing, and I wanted to be there another year. I want to enjoy college and get my education, be with a great group of guys, and the coaching staff,” Gambrell said in an interview with the Post. “Developmentally, it will be great for me to have another good year with my great linemates, Troy Terry and Jarid Lukosevicius. To be able to play with them again, and play for Monty, it’s only going to make me better. I think that’s what it came down to.”
The Sharks selected Gambrell 60th overall with their first pick in the 2016 draft after his freshman season. Gambrell was weighing his decision last week during San Jose’s annual development camp, and told reporters “if the opportunity’s right, it could be time [to turn pro].” Now was just not the time to leave Denver, according to his head coach.
“We’re getting an All-American — an elite college-hockey player — back and I’m really proud of his maturity for understanding what’s best for him, in that fact that he wants to get close to his degree and he wants to get to the level where he can walk right into the NHL,” Denver coach and former Sharks center Jim Montgomery told The Denver Post. “I’ve always encouraged our players to not leave school (early) to play in the American Hockey League.”
Gambrell’s path to the NHL would have been difficult this season. Barring a standout performance in training camp, he likely would have sat behind the Sharks’ top four centers (Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Chris Tierney) as well as the Barracuda’s top two (Ryan Carpenter and Danny O’Regan). The incoming junior will instead play in every situation as the Pioneers’ top center, before deciding whether or not to turn pro at the conclusion of the season.
Last season, Gambrell scored 42 points in 38 games with Denver, as well as 47 in 41 during his freshman campaign in 2015-16. Both years, the Pioneers advanced to the Frozen Four, and won their eighth NCAA title in program history last season.
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