Team Canada has made its final cuts, and Maple Leafs prospect Frederik Gauthier was not one of them. Despite being on the bubble for the past week, Gauthier impressed Canada’s coaching staff enough in exhibition games against the CIS All-Stars and Team Russia that he was able to stick around.
Of course, this is seen as a terrible decision by some. Even by Leafs fans.
Gauthier is not a complete player. His offensive abilities are a step below pretty much everyone else on the roster, and he’s never cracked a point-per-game pace for Rimouski of the QMJHL despite being a former first round draft pick (Leafs, 2013, 21st overall). This is a real sticking point for many Leafs faithful, who believe the organization is hurting itself by drafting ‘safe’ players in the early rounds.
Then again, there are very real reasons why Gauthier was selected to make the team – you just might not agree with them.
Gauthier has some of the best defensive awareness on the roster and is well regarded as a penalty killing expert. He certainly doesn’t hurt you at even strength, and will ultimately rely on his wingers to produce, but Gauthier wasn’t selected to play top line minutes. He’ll give way to the Reinharts and McDavids and Lazars of the world and jump over the boards when the Ritchies of the world get two minutes for hitting too hard (this is an IIHF tournament, after all).
It’s not a terrible idea to carry a ‘specialist’ in that sense, but there are those out there who believe taking the highest upside players in a short tournament setting generate the best results. There’s some truth to both strategies.
Forwards Michael Dal Colle, Jason Dickinson, Rourke Chartier and defenceman Haydn Fleury were Team Canada’s final cuts. There’s some real offensive talent there, especially in Dal Colle and Chartier, but Canada was not wanting for highly skilled wingers.
And before you start, Gauthier is a centre. Everyone buy Dickinson plays a different position. Any “how does Gauthier make it and not Dal Colle?” talk is pretty much moot, no matter how much you want to make it a thing.
Donaghey Will Be Traded to Halifax
Leafs prospect Cody Donaghey, who signed a three-year ELC with the team following a successful prospects camp in the Fall, has kind-of, sort-of, but not yet been traded by the Quebec to the Halifax as part of the deal that brings goaltender Zach Fucale to the Memorial Cup-bound Remparts.
Donaghey is currently out of action for several months after Moncton’s Will Smith caught the skilled defender with a knee-on-knee hit. He’ll join the Moosehead this coming summer but remain with the Remparts until then.