We take a look at the Sens’ 2015 second round pick Gabriel Gagne who’s leading the Belleville Senators in goals so far this season.
Gagne’s 9 goals are tops on the team at the moment and more than he tallied all last season split between the AHL and ECHL in 60 total contests. His struggles to adjust to the professional game in 2016-17, as well as shuttling between Binghamton and Wichita, weren’t wasted though as the young forward continued his development in other ways.
“Last year was maybe a transition year for me. I didn’t play a lot last season but I learned a lot,” Gagne recalled. “Guys like Mike Blunden, who’s a real pro and does everything right, helped me a lot and taught me things both on and off the ice.”
It’s been Gagne’s dedication to the weight room that seems to be paying the biggest dividends as the towering 6’5″ right winger continues to fill out his massive frame.
“It helps to be in better shape and I spend a lot of time working with Jeremy Benoit in the gym this year,” the 21-year-old said of his commitment to getting stronger. “I want to be an everyday player for this team and to do that I need to keep improving in all parts of my game.”
The development of Gagne’s game hasn’t gone unnoticed by the coaching staff this season either.
“He’s probably our most improved, young player and he’s come a long way,” shared Belleville head coach Kurt Kleinendorst. “He’s light years ahead of where he was last year.”
As Gagne continues to impress with his strong play and offensive numbers to start the season in Belleville, he’s hoping to show the management team in Ottawa that he’s deserving of an NHL call-up in the future.
“That’s one of my goals for sure,” Gagne said about a potential ‘cup of coffee’ with the NHL club this year. “I think everybody in the room here is looking to get called up so I’m just working my hardest and hopefully one day it will come.”
His coach also sees an National Hockey League debut in Gagne’s future.
“He’s going to be an NHL player one day, I truly believe that,” said Kleinendorst. “If he continues to make the progress that he’s made it’ll be sooner rather than later.”
Gagne and the B-Sens start a 3-game homestand at the Yardmen Arena against Syracuse on Saturday.
From the GM:
“Anytime you have a group with Michael Blunden, Ben Sexton, Tyler Randell, and then you bring in veterans like Jim O’Brien and Chris Kelly, that’s a lot of good influences for the younger guys. They know how to take care of themselves, they’re pros everyday, they can push the younger guys and they’re not afraid to have those tough conversations with them. The younger guys have responded if you look at the play of Gagne, Chlapik and Perron for example. They’ve really enjoyed working with the veteran guys this season.” – Randy Lee on the mix of veterans and younger players in Belleville