Gage Goncalves’ wild 2020 reached yet another apex.
The Everett Silvertips center, a virtual unknown when the 2019-20 WHL season began, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, the Lightning announced Sunday.
Goncalves, a 19-year-old from Mission, B.C., was never drafted into the WHL and wasn’t on a WHL protected list at 16. But after scoring one goal in 67 games with Everett as a 17-year-old, Goncalves had a breakout 18-year-old campaign in which he tallied 33 goals and 38 assists in 60 games. That led Tampa Bay, the reigning Stanley Cup champion, to select Goncalves in the second round (62nd overall) of this year’s NHL draft.
This year also saw Goncalves summoned by Hockey Canada to compete for a spot on Canada’s team for the World Junior Hockey Championships, which take place Dec. 25-Jan. 5 in Edmonton, Alberta. Goncalves survived the first round of cuts, but was part of the final group of cuts.
Goncalves and the Tips are scheduled to begin the current season on Jan. 8. However, with coronavirus cases rising and restrictions increasing in both in Washington and the western Canadian provinces, that start date may now be in jeopardy.
Three Tips to World Juniors
While Goncalves won’t be going to World Juniors, three Everett players were selected to represent their countries at the tournament.
Goaltender Dustin Wolf was selected by the United States for the second consecutive year. Wolf, a 19-year-old California native who now resides in Lake Stevens, is coming off a season in which he went 34-10-2-0 with a 1.88 goals against average and .935 save percentage, winning both the WHL and Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Year awards. He won his only start for the U.S. at last year’s tournament.
Center Michal Gut was selected to play for the Czech Republic. The 18-year-old had 13 goals and 23 assists in 51 games for the Tips last season, and he has seven goals and four assists in nine games on loan with Czech second division team HC Banik Sokolov this season.
Defenseman Kasper Puutio was picked to represent Finland. The 18-year-old had four goals and eight assists in 21 games with Everett last season after arriving from Swift Current at the trade deadline, and this season he has one goal in eight games with Karpat in Finland’s top division.