Frederik Gauthier, Leafs First Round Pick

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Photo: Reuters


The Leafs opted for size and two-way ability down the middle at 21st overall, drafting a 6’5, 214-pounder out of Quebec in Frederik Gauthier. As a player who “needs to work on his offensive game” and who was under a PPG in the Q (worth noting that he broke his jaw during the season), this pick may be a little on the safe side compared to say, the higher offensive ceiling of Hunter Shinkaruk (who slid down and was available at 21). That said, there’s no denying the value of a good centerman and the need for depth at the position. How you feel about this selection depends on whether you like the late-first-round approach of safer picks with strong fundamentals or if you would prefer to role the dice a little on higher upside.

Profile after the jump.

From Alex Tran:

“The 6’4 215 lb Gauthier burst onto the scene this year with an impressive rookie campaign in the QMJHL where he surprised scouts by displaying a relatively advanced and polished game for a young player still growing into his body. The talented centreman has drawn comparisons to the likes of Sean Couturier for his impressive defensive instincts and commitment to strong positional play. Gauthier does the little things quite well – realizing when to hold back and cover a pinching defenseman, pushing hard to back-check on the high man during an odd man rush and completing the chips along the boards to get the puck out. He excels in the role of the second forward into the corners for support (much like Jay McClement).  Rimouski relied heavily on Gauthier in key late-game situations, as the youngster led all rookie centreman in faceoff attempts (albeit at a 47% success rate – a number that still needs to improve). Offensively, Gauthier displays a promising  scorer’s skillset with the ability to find pucks in traffic and finish in tight around the net. The playmaking instincts and passing ability have a chance to be above average while his skating ability already grades out as above average for a player his size. While the hulking forward can certainly hold his own in high traffic areas, he lacks the raw “nastiness” and punishing physicality of a Tyler Biggs or Milan Lucic.

Gauthier possesses the complete package of skills to be a a very effective NHL player. He started off the QMJHL campaign on an absolute tear offensively before fatigue and oppositional adjustments slowed him down. What will ultimately determine his ceiling is where you think his offensive ability eventually grades out. Is he a Paul Gaustad type – a highly effective defensive player in a 3rd line role? Or is he a David Backes type – capable of a 1st/2nd line role on a very good team? It’s tough to say at this point because the sample size is so small and the trajectories of power forwards is so unpredictable but I’m optimistic and will tend toward the latter. His size, strength and well-rounded game could see him ascend very quickly through this organization.”

NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Bordeleau raves about Gauthier’s defensive acumen:

A bit old, but here’s a short highlight package:

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From McKeen’s Draft Guide:

“Rescued his plummeting stock with a strong performance while winning gold for Team Canada at the U18 Worlds (7-1-3-4) .. soared initially in his QMJHL debut (18-10-10-20), but sagged after returning from a November broken jaw that required surgery .. scored 12 times in his final 50 games including playoffs (6-0-2-2) .. his defensive efforts were evident throughout however, reflected in a plus-22 rating, second-best on Rimouski .. named to the QMJHL All Rookie Team .. led College Esther-Blondin to a QAAA title in `11-12 – earning MVP honours – and passing on a commitment to Harvard University ..

SCOUTING REPORT .. diligent, hard-working pivot with imposing size and speed .. light and agile, graceful in cuts and turns .. can add a quicker startup and acceleration burst – to a stride that possesses good inherent length and thrust .. a menace off the rush once his excellent top gear is fully engaged .. drives at defenders and challenges 1-on-1, exploiting a sharp diagonal cut that highlights striking speed and lateral agility for a big man .. unleashes a smooth, hard wristshot in full flight .. multi-purpose type .. dedicated defensive soldier – hustles to get back in proper lanes and close gaps, exploiting a gull-like wingspan .. sacrifices himself making plays in the hard areas .. developing as a playmaker .. moves the puck confidently – shows skill receiving pucks and making passes .. not a pure talent in terms of stickhandling and in-close finesse skills .. can refine puckhandling in tight quarters – shows too much of the puck .. can get much stronger as his ‘specimen’ frame is still relatively lean .. developing his awareness and expanding his field of vision will be critical areas .. plays with blinders on – fixates and gravitates to the puck .. benefits greatly by being a meaner physical presence – and has demonstrated a capacity to aggressively use his size to create space.”

Additional reading: Gauthier plays all-round game well beyond his years.

Craig Button has this to say about Frederic Gauthier:

Craig Button: I have watched Frederik for almost 2 years now and he has always impressed me. He played midget last season (His team lost in the TELUS CUP Midget Championship to Red Deer in an epic final) because he was considering going the NCAA route and was conditionally granted acceptance to Harvard University. He’s big, he’s smart and he may not run you over but he asserts with his size & takes advantage. he is a strong two-way player who plays all situations. he reminds me of Keith Primeau. He has not come out of nowhere, you just haven’t heard of him because he wasn’t on a ‘mainstream’ radar. Centers like him are rare and I have no doubt that he could be a top 10 player before long. Different player than Huberdeau but similar scenario as you point out.

  • quintensmids

    sigh. why not go for the fences with shinkaruk?

    • TheColborneUltimatum

      quintensmids Is Shinkaruk a winger?

      • quintensmids

        TheColborneUltimatum quintensmids hockeydb says center

        • Anthony Petrielli

          quintensmids TheColborneUltimatum He’s a winger.

        • quintensmids

          Anthony Petrielli quintensmids TheColborneUltimatum either way.. we needed a high ceiling pick, not a 2nd line at best (again)

        • dlb eh

          quintensmids Anthony Petrielli TheColborneUltimatum 
          it’s amazing you’ve already ruled him out

        • dlb eh

          quintensmids Anthony Petrielli TheColborneUltimatum 
          it’s amazing you’ve already ruled him out

        • Anthony Petrielli

          quintensmids Anthony Petrielli TheColborneUltimatum You feel ready to say Shinkaruk was a missed opportunity even though you didn’t know what position he plays?

        • Anthony Petrielli

          quintensmids Anthony Petrielli TheColborneUltimatum You feel ready to say Shinkaruk was a missed opportunity even though you didn’t know what position he plays?

        • Anthony Petrielli

          quintensmids Anthony Petrielli TheColborneUltimatum You feel ready to say Shinkaruk was a missed opportunity even though you didn’t know what position he plays?

        • quintensmids

          Anthony Petrielli quintensmids TheColborneUltimatum well, I thought he was a winger, then looked and saw Hdb said center.. I’ll admit I’ve seen nothing moretha highlight packs on either player, I just think that we should’ve went for the higher ceiling talent seeing as we have enough mid level “safe” players

        • quintensmids

          Anthony Petrielli quintensmids TheColborneUltimatum well, I thought he was a winger, then looked and saw Hdb said center.. I’ll admit I’ve seen nothing moretha highlight packs on either player, I just think that we should’ve went for the higher ceiling talent seeing as we have enough mid level “safe” players

        • Anthony Petrielli

          quintensmids Anthony Petrielli TheColborneUltimatum Eh, a 6’5 center has more raw upside than a 5’10 winger.

        • quintensmids

          Anthony Petrielli quintensmids TheColborneUltimatum how many points roughly could you see him putting up? I couldn’t imagine more than 40-50

        • Anthony Petrielli

          quintensmids Anthony Petrielli TheColborneUltimatum Need to see how he does next year. This was only his first year in the Q, not his second, so next year will be more telling. He had a good first year total all things considered.

  • quintensmids

    sigh. why not go for the fences with shinkaruk?

  • moimoi

    He better become Patrice Bergeron with size. If that happens then I’ll be extremely happy. But right now…

    • TheColborneUltimatum

      moimoi Any player we picked this late would take a few years to make the team. We needed a center. Seems like a fine pick.

      • dlb eh

        TheColborneUltimatum moimoi 
        kinda hard to say what we’ll need in a few years, isn’t it?

        • TheColborneUltimatum

          dlb eh TheColborneUltimatum moimoi We have wingers locked up. We needed a center.

        • dlb eh

          TheColborneUltimatum dlb eh moimoi 
          in a few years?  glad you know.  i’m always watching to see what happens next.

    • TheColborneUltimatum

      moimoi Any player we picked this late would take a few years to make the team. We needed a center. Seems like a fine pick.

    • Anthony Petrielli

      moimoi No pressure.

      • moimoi

        Anthony Petrielli moimoi Nope! None at all. 😉

  • happy_gilmour

    we`re all disappointed a bit, but hey, he`s a kid in the first round, hopefully good things are in store ahead
    Now, what`s going on with the trade front…

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    Im happy with the pick

    • dlb eh

      Dangle_My_Berries 
      i’m not disappointed either.  truth is, i don’t know enough about them all to know any better.  all i can judge is what i see and what i hear.  and i hear good things.  and i see he’s big.

  • TheColborneUltimatum

    What happened with Grabo to Detroit? Was that just some odd error?

  • xerosawyer

    Lovely pick, very happy!

  • http://stores.ebay.ca/UncleJakesCards?_rdc=1 unclejakescards

    in 2 years this KID could be 6’6″ , well over 230 lbs ….. its a good pick , that could turn out great …..

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Meh!!…Rielly (and Gards) is still a Leaf so I’m happy.

  • moimoi

    I really just don’t want Shinkaruk in a Habs jersey. That would piss me off.