Gannon Laroque (Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)

The Victoria Royals named defenseman Gannon Laroque the team’s captain for next season on Friday, highlighting the hulking defender’s meteoric rise up the Royals depth chart.

After being passed up in the WHL draft and signing with the Royals as a free agent two years ago, Laroque’s ascent has been staggering. He’s gone from undrafted junior player, to San Jose Sharks 2021 NHL draft pick, to now being the captain of our Royals. 

Oh, and he signed an entry level contract with the Sharks on Wednesday, earning his first professional contract. Not a bad few days for the lad.

Laroque will replace Tarun Fizer as team captain, making him the first defenceman to wear the “C” since Ryan Gagnon did in 2017.

“Since joining the Royals as an undrafted free agent, Gannon has demonstrated incredible work ethic, passion, competitiveness, professionalism, and humility,” said Royal General Manager and Head Coach Dan Price in a statement. “He exemplifies all of the traits that we look for in a Victoria Royal.”

The Edmonton, Alberta product had an excellent year on the blueline, combining a fierce physical game with strong intuition in the offensive zone. Laroque finished the season 10th in league scoring from the blueline with 10 goals and 52 points, and was 8th with 24 power play assists. 

Laroque was also the only defenseman 18 years or older last year to play more than 50 games for the Royals last year, so needless to say he’s used to being the “grey beard” on the blueline and will return ready to lead and help the youngsters like Austin Zemlak tune up their games.

He will be tasked with shepherding the next generation of Royals toward greener pastures, as the Royals have struggled over the past few years but have youthful talent who should improve over time.

It will be up to Laroque and the leadership group to see if they can take the Royals to the next level in the coming season.

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