With the 21st pick, the Maple Leafs select… Frederick Gauthier

Credit to Nations photo Dimitri Filopovic

Somewhat expected, the Toronto Maple Leafs went with the big centreman Frederick Gauthier of the Rimouski Oceanic with the 21st overall pick. Gauthier had been given to the Leafs in several mock drafts—either him or Kerby Rychel—as the Maple Leafs continue the theme of drafting size rather than skill among forwards.

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The pick isn’t *awful*, but it is a *safe* pick. Pierre McGuire stated the obvious when he suggested that Gauthier will never be like Ron Francis. It’s not a reach, as Gauthier was ranked No. 20 in our NHL Numbers consensus picks, but considering a skilled forward like Hunter Shinkaruk had fallen to the Leafs spot, I can understand if fans feel the team didn’t try to hit a home run.

Nonis suggested to James Duthie that there were several centres in the draft that the team was looking at, and it’s obvious that the team had a need at forward.

Here is stats guy Rob Pettapiece on Gauthier, breaking down quality of competition and 5-on-5 statistics:

5v5 stats (season and playoffs):

2012-13: 16 G, 24 A, 40 PTS, 0.59 PPG

Faced toughest forward competition on Rimouski this year, but not top-10 leaguewide. Most common opponents: Philippe Maillet, Philippe Halley, Dylan “Philippe” Labbé. Most common teammates: Scott Oke, Ryan MacKinnon, Peter Trainor.

Top comparables (offensively and qualcomp-wise, though I understand he was selected for his defensive skill, so these may be bogus): Jordan Eberle, Alexandre Lavoie, Josh Nicholls.

Eberle is an… er… interesting comparable. Not that those aren’t stylistic comparables, just similar statistics at a similar junior age.

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What do you think? It seems like Gauthier projects as a decent two-way forward, but his offence doesn’t appear to be there, which is the kind of player you want to take in the first round.

Neate Sager at Buzzing the Net has a good take here. Our own Justin Fisher will talk with some scouts and have a post up shortly.

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