The Toronto Marlies announced a transaction today:
TRANSACTION: The Toronto #Marlies have acquired RD Alex Gudbranson on loan from the Minnesota Wild.#MarliesLive— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) February 14, 2017
Loans happen a lot in the ECHL and sometimes in the AHL, but to have a player on an NHL contract loaned to another team is fairly unusual.
Gudbranson, brother to the Vancouver Canucks Erik, was signed by the Minnesota Wild in 2014 as an undrafted OHL prospect. He was invited to training camp and ended up with an ELC. That contract runs out this year. As a loan, he stays as part of the Wild’s SPC count and the question of who pays his salary is a will never get answered.
Our Gudbranson is listed at 6’ 2” and 234 lb and he is a right-shooting defender who has spent most of his pro career in the ECHL.
After the Wild signed him, he played 46 games on the Iowa Wild and managed four points. In the ECHL he has played a season and a half now and has .32 points per game, which isn’t terrible for a defender.
It seems likely that this loan may see him go to the Orlando Solar Bears, but it’s certainly not impossible that he’ll get a look on the Marlies. They are suffering with injuries to a lot of their defenders and without Frank Corrado, they’d be in serious trouble trying to put a credible set of six on the ice every night.
The Iowa Wild are in a playoff position this year, but the season Gudbranson played with them, they were the worst team in the AHL. The Quad City Mallards, their ECHL affiliate, are also in a playoff position, making this loan a little surprising. The Mallards do have a lot of defence, and they have three with better points records, so it may simply be a way for them to give some ice time to different players.
The Solar Bears have quantity on defence, but they are lacking in quality, and if Gudbranson does go south, he may very well improve the situation there considerably.
Where did the Leafs organization find this fellow? Well, he played his last two years of junior hockey on the Soo Greyhounds when Kyle Dubas was the General Manager. Gudbranson wore the A his final year.