My guess is Gaunce plays #2 center behind McDavid because Gaunce can carry a line on his own and doesn't need McDavid to produce points (proven as he has been the go-to guy on his team). Spreading the offensive depth around is wise since if teams focus on McDavid, Gaunce will make them pay, and if they pay attention to Gaunce, McDavid will make them pay. Then, Erie loads up the 1st unit PP by putting Gaunce on McDavid's wing with Brown. This is going to be huge for Gaunce's development for a number of reasons.
1. He is now on a contending team - championships are great for development.
2. He is no longer has the pressure of doing everything by himself.
3. He is being groomed for a role he is projected to fill in the NHL - the #2 guy that will shut down the opposing team's best players while putting up points. Gaunce is to McDavid what Kesler is to Henrik Sedin.
4. He will get PP time with one of the best prospects coming up in McDavid and this should help his offensive game come along.
good post, I agree. I would assume when the chips are down, they'll move Gaunce up front when they need to load up.