Frederik Gauthier, Better Than First Anticipated
As soon as Frederik Gauthier’s name was announced as the 21st overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the term “safe pick” was used for him. He wasn’t the highly skilled player you would expect out of the first round, but he comes with less risk from some first round draft picks.
Gauthier is a 6’4” 215lb natural left handed centre, who “combines a great size with a mature game at both ends of the ice.” In just over two seasons in the QMJHL, he has scored 49 goals, and assisted on 78 for a total of 127 points in 133 games, which is nearly a point a game clip. Not exactly lighting the lamp in the Q, but he isn’t a slouch either.
Gauthier has won a gold medal in the U18 World Junior Championships (2012-13) and one in the U20 World Junior Championships (2014-15). What is really impressive about his most recent World Junior Championship is his role on the team and how successful he was with it. Gauthier paired with Lawson Crouse and Nick Ritchie were tasked with being the key shutdown line in the tournament, and they did a really good job of it. Playing some of the toughest minutes on the team, he put up some of the most impressive puck possession off all the Team Canada players. The only player better than him was Braydon Point, who was sheltered and not used much until Robbie Fabbri went down with a high ankle sprain.
In the NHL we shouldn’t expect Gauthier to be a top line scorer, which I think is what irritates some given where he was taken in the draft. What we can expect him to do with the Leafs is be a strong puck possession third line centre who can kill penalties. When I look at Gauthier, I see him similar to a Rob Niedermyer type player – he isn’t going to be the best player on your team, but he won’t hurt the team either.
At the end of the day, the Leafs picked a guy who will be playing in the NHL within the next couple of seasons and he should do a great job in his role as a third line centre. And that is better than swinging and completely missing on a prospect in the late first round.
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