Brendan Gaunce was having a good year with a bad team. He could now have a great year with a great team.

The Vancouver Canucks’ first-round pick in 2012 was traded Tuesday from the last-place Belleville Bulls to OHL championship threat Erie Otters. In exchange for winger Stephen Harper, the Bulls also get four picks in the OHL Priority Selection — Ottawa’s second-round pick in 2014, London’s second-round pick in 2016, Kingston’s third-round pick in 2015 and Erie’s third-rounder in 2016. The Otters, who lead the OHL with a 20-4-1-0 record, also get Mississauga’s fifth-round pick in 2014.

Gaunce, 19, had 10 goals and 26 points in 22 games this season for the 5-16-2-2 Bulls. He was expected to push for the third-line centre vacancy with the Canucks this season, but can now push the favoured Otters to a league title and a Memorial Cup berth, and that’s the kind of pressure the NHL club wants Gaunce to thrive under on a daily basis.

“We are pleased to get a high-profile player in Brendan Gaunce,” said Otters general manager Sherry Bassin. “Brendan plays both ends of the ice, he shares the puck and understands how to accept responsibility.”

Gaunce won’t lack for motivation. At the national junior team camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August, coach Brent Sutter had a less-than-flattering summation of where Gaunce is in his professional development.

“He’s a big guy and he’s a ways away from being a pro player yet,” said Sutter. “He’s a very defensive-oriented guy as far as understanding the game. He knows his limits offensively, but he’s a big power forward who’s a decent skater and he’s got some good skills. But I see him more as a third- or fourth-line player in the National Hockey League, more of a power guy.”