Ben Gaudreau is re-entering the Draft.
“Because of what is developing with their goaltending prospects, we have decided to go back in the Draft,” Gaudreau’s agent Eddie Mio of Octagon Sports Management told San Jose Hockey Now via text today.
The San Jose Sharks, who selected Gaudreau in the third round of the 2021 Draft, had until Jun. 1 to sign the 20-year-old Sarnia Sting netminder.
On Monday, Sharks GM Mike Grier said the organization’s decision on Gaudreau was still up in the air: “With [director of goaltending Evgeni Nabokov] and [goaltending coach Thomas Speer], we’re still going through that, and we do have meetings here in the next couple of weeks where we’ll sort that out and figure out if we’re gonna sign Ben or not.”
It looks like that decision has been made.
Mio declined to go into further detail about what he and Gaudreau are seeing with the San Jose Sharks’ goaltending pipeline. The Sharks have already signed young netminders Magnus Chrona and Georgy Romanov this off-season, and there are still decisions to be made on incumbent RFA prospects Eetu Makiniemi and Strauss Mann.
That’s not a lot of playing time available between the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda and the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder.
Mio, however, pushed back on the notion that the organization’s goaltending logjam influenced Gaudreau’s decision.
“I’m confident in Ben, that he would have prevailed,” Mio said. “We’re not afraid of competition. Just didn’t feel like a good fit.”
The 6-foot-2 goalie enjoyed a strong post-season for Sarnia, posting three shutouts and a .905 Save %, leading the Sting to the Conference Finals. This followed an up-and-down regular season and a 2023 World Junior Championships gold medal backing up Thomas Milic for Team Canada.
Overall, Gaudreau’s junior career has featured some inconsistency — he has an middling-for-the-OHL career .890 Save % — and noteworthy international success. Besides being named to Team Canada in the most recent World Juniors, Gaudreau also backstopped Canada to the 2021 U18 World Junior Championships.
UPDATE: The San Jose Sharks declined comment at this time, but did confirm that they will not be signing Gaudreau. It is still possible for the Sharks to trade Gaudreau’s rights, until Jun. 1.
In March, San Jose Hockey Now rated Gaudreau as the Sharks’ top goaltending prospect.
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