Alumni Profile: Erik Gudbranson
The Kingston Frontenacs weren’t Erik Gudbranson’s hometown team, but they were the next closest thing. The Frontenacs used the fourth overall pick in the 2008 OHL draft to select the Orleans, Ontario native who would call Kingston home for the next three years.
Erik Gudbranson joined the Kingston Frontenacs for the 2008-09 season. He was a towering defenceman, even as a 16-year-old in a league with players that were 2-3 years older than him. He was an important piece to a team that was rebuilding as he provided good size and strength in the defensive game, while being able to contribute consistently on the offensive side. He had 22 points as a rookie defenceman in the OHL. When he returned for his second year in the OHL, he increased his point total to 23 despite missing 27 games due to mononucleosis.
He was drafted third overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL entry draft and many people thought his time in Kingston would be over. However, Gudbranson and the Panthers weren’t able to come to terms on an entry level contract and he was returned to Kingston for one more season where he had his most productive season at the OHL level putting up 34 points. He also won a silver medal at the World Junior Championships while representing Team Canada. Kingston suffered a tough loss in the opening round of the playoffs after starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer had his season end in February due to mononucleosis. Without a veteran goaltender on the roster the Oshawa Generals defeated Kingston 4-1 in their first-round playoff series which ended the OHL career of Erik Gudbranson.
The following year Erik joined the Florida Panthers for his rookie season in the NHL. He recorded his first NHL point on December 2, 2011 against the Los Angeles Kings. His first NHL goal came against one of the NHL’s elite goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist, on December 11, 2011. He had 8 points during his rookie season. He would remain with the Panthers until the spring of 2016 when he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Jared McCann.
His first year with the Canucks was cut short due to a season ending surgery, but the team gave him a 1-year deal for the 2017-18 season. Last season Erik performed well enough to earn himself a 3-year/$12 million contract extension with Vancouver that lasts through the 2020-21 season. In total, Gudbranson has appeared in 391 games scoring 14 goals and 40 assists.
Erik Gudbranson has had a successful hockey career, but his off-ice actions are just as impressive. His brother, Dennis, is a leukemia survivor and that has encouraged Erik to be a supporter of Canadian Blood Services, as well as a promoter of stem cell donation.