Things could have gone very wrong for University of Denver forward and San Jose Sharks 2016 second round draft pick Dylan Gambrell this past season. The 21-year-old, after all, was passed over twice in the NHL Draft and had a limited track record of success before representing a third of college hockey’s best line in 2015-16, and two-thirds of that line departed before the season.
Yet, Gambrell’s sophomore season was just as, if not more, successful than his freshman campaign. He scored 42 points in 38 games, down ever so slightly from the 47 in 41 he scored the previous year. Gambrell’s Pioneers also accomplished what they couldn’t the previous year, and left the Frozen Four in Chicago with an NCAA Division I national championship in tow. He assisted on Jared Lukosevicius’ title-winning goal, and his set-up ability has become par for the course over the last two seasons.
Gambrell finished tied for eighth and tied for 18th, respectively, in his freshman and sophomore seasons. The combination of his speed and passing ability is an effective one, according to our friends at SB Nation College Hockey:
He’s a smooth skater with an explosive burst of speed. His ability to handle difficult passes is already pro-level, which allows for him to generate so many more opportunities in the offensive zone. He’s got a good release on his shot, but is more effective using his speed to create openings, then dishing the puck off to teammates.
After briefly flirting with joining the Sharks organization, Gambrell will return to Denver for his junior season as the Pioneers look to defend their national championship. He’ll look to continue to improve, as he plays in every situation and is relied upon in a leadership role. It’s possible, if not likely, he’ll join the Barracuda in the AHL at the conclusion of the NCAA season, and could conceivably join the Sharks depending upon their needs down the stretch.
He was undoubtedly a gamble at the time of his selection, but Gambrell has exceeded expectations so far. As long as he continues to improve, he’s a gamble that could pay off handsomely for the Sharks.
Name: Dylan Gambrell
Age (as of 9/9/17): 21
Last Year’s Ranking: 20
2016-17 Team: Denver Pioneers (NCAA)
Where he’ll (probably) be next year: Denver Pioneers (NCAA)/San Jose Barracuda (AHL)
What we like
Speed, passing ability.
What to improve on
Sustaining his offensive production.
Gambrell picked up his second two-goal game in three days in a 4-3 win over St. Cloud State on February 24. It was the fourth two-goal game of his NCAA career.