TLN Prospect Profile: #12 Frederik Gauthier

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With the departure of Tyler Biggs this summer it seems that
Frederik Gauthier is in prime position to assume Bigg’s role as the whipping boy
of Leafs prospects. There’s part of me that agrees with this as there are
limitations to Gauthier’s game, and I can’t get over that “he’s not who I
would’ve picked” in the draft.

On the other hand, who I would’ve picked doesn’t really
matter, and what Gauthier does, which is play responsible hockey, he’s done
very well at in the junior ranks, but with the speed and size of his
competition about to increase it will be interesting to see what Gauthier’s first
pro season will look like.

Gauthier has been taking a slow march back in the TLN
Prospect Rankings. He initially debuted at #3 in 2013, and slide to 9th
last season, before rebounding to 6th in our midseason ranking. Now
here he is at 12th buried under a mountain of new found organizational
depth.

Name: Frederik Gautheir
Position: Centre   
Hometown: Laval, Quebec
Size: 6’4″, 214 lbs
2015 Team: Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Acquired: Drafted, 1st Round, 21st Overall in 2013

SCOUTING REPORT

In 2014-15 Frederik Gauthier finished the year 68th
overall in QMJHL scoring. Injuries played a factor, but still not exactly what you’d hope for in a Draft+2 season. Gauthier is continuing his slow decline in the offensive production
department, though that’s not what got him drafted.

Of the 16 assists he had in his 37 games, 12 of them were
primary assists (numbers as per CHLStats.com), some competency showing with
puck distribution and his .332 Goals created per game is respectable for a guy
who will likely not be a primary source of offence at the next level.

Of course what Gauthier is known for is his defensive game,
and that’s what once again earned him a spot on the Canadian World Junior Team.
Often Gauthier was relied on for defensive zone faceoffs (he had a 54% win
record in the QMJHL last season), and was also a frequent penalty killer.

Rimouski’s strong collection of overagers, including
Gauthier, helped carry them to a QMJHL championship and Memorial Cup
appearance. And while Gauthier lining up against the best of the CHL and not
looking out of place is encouraging, being two years removed from his draft
it’s also expected and it’s still reasonable to pine for some offense at this
level as well.

Todd
Cordell
tracked Gauthier for a couple of his Memorial Cup games and
confirmed what we already knew, that Gauthier was used primarily in defensive
situations, and unfortunately against the top junior competition, Gauthier’s
possession numbers suffered.

memcupzonetracking

Gauthier closed out his junior career by winning the Guy
Carbonneau Trophy for best defensive forward in the QMJHL, so at least at a
junior level he’s one of the best you can get at the role he’ll be filling.

From Corey Pronman of ESPN:

Former first-round pick Frederik Gauthier has been somewhat stagnant as a prospect after being taken at No. 21 overall in 2013. He’s big, and has improved his skating, with his mainstays being his great checking and faceoff abilities. I once envisioned a player with average offensive upside combined with high-end defensive skills when he was an under-18 player, but that reality is starting to look pretty unlikely, given his lack of development offensively during the past two years.

MOVING FORWARD

Gauthier is about to enter his first professional season and
with organizational depth it remains to be seen if that will be with the
Marlies or with the Solar Bears. As a former first round pick you’d hope to see
Gauthier have a strong enough camp that he can avoid the ECHL, but with a front
office not tied to his selection he won’t be done any favours and Froese,
Nylander, and Carrick are the likely owners of the top three center roles.

Development under Keefe would be beneficial for Gauthier, as
Keefe has excelled in working with other two way centers like Jared McCann and
Blake Speers and with Gauthier coming from the top possession team in the QMJHL
to a possession driven system under Dubas and Keefe, you’d assume he’d be in a
position to excel.

Marlies
Reporter Kyle Cicerella
sees an ECHL assignment as the most probable
scenario:

“Despite being a first-round pick, it’s more than possible
to see Gauthier on a line with Clapperton playing for the
ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears to open the campaign rather than with the Marlies.

Toronto currently has an abundance of
forwards under contract that are expected to play at the minor-league
level and according to assistant general manager Kyle Dubas, rookies ideally
will start at the bottom and work their way up.”

Christopher Clapperton is a former Rimouski teammate signed
to an AHL deal, and could help ease the transition to pro for Gauthier.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

It’s hard not be underwhelmed by a former first round pick
that seems to be on their way to the ECHL. Gauthier’s lack of offence and less
than stellar skating seem to have him locked in on taking the long path to the
NHL.

selke

While Gauthier has been making a name for himself as a
defensive forward it remains ridiculous to compare him to strong two way
players like Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O’Reilly, and others. Gauthier may turn
into a strong defensive forward at the pro level but let’s dial it back to more
reasonable comparisons like Manny Malhotra in his prime, or if we’re truly
lucky, Peter Zezel.

Gauthier’s biggest selling point seems to be the intrigue of
how he may fit into what the Leafs are hoping to achieve. The long development
curve the Leafs want to apply to prospects seems tailored for a guy like
Gauthier, and since he’s always been labeled as someone with a high hockey IQ,
it will be interesting to see if he excels in the Keefe and Babcock systems.

THE RANKINGS SO FAR

  • SEER

    A lot of the time, I see posters on Leafs sites (and from other teams) always rating a player on how many points he has, instead of looking at the big picture… Shack & Horton are great examples.., as both played with 100% commitment and heart.. and were very strong “two-way” players.., but…, neither racked up top points…

    The problems with the Leafs has been “defensive play”.., NOT.. offensive output… Gauthier has been consistently picked for Team Canada Juniors, because of his reliability in being a very dependable two-way player…

    I think that 3rd-4th line is all he ever expects to achieve in the NHL.., which makes him a very realistic thinker, also… If you watch the first video I made for him, he even alludes to this, himself.. Not every needed player on a team will have high points… There is much more to hockey, than just scoring goals.. He will fit into Babcock’s system perfectly… and I would be very surprised to see him not start in the Marlies this coming season…

    Here’s my latest video for him…

    FREDERICK GAUTHIER 2014-15 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

    —>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VscMfdOeG9w

  • Jeremy Ian

    I’m not sold yet that he’ll develop into a significant impact player in the NHL, but this will also be his first year directly in the hands of the Leafs development team. I’ll be interested in seeing how effective this new coaching staff – from the ECHL-AHL-NHL pans out in player development.

    The silver-lining for him being potentially sent to the ECHL is that it doesn’t *seem* to be a ticket out of the NHL for prospects – if what Leafs management’s been preaching holds true.

  • CMpuck

    Shea Theodore, Andre burakovsky and marko dano were all available and we chose a guy with a 3rd line centre ceiling. what a genius nonis and company were. I wish this management group swooped in after the game 7 collapse. that way, we would’ve been spared these last few humiliations on top of that unforgettable failure of a game. I don’t know if he will even stay an nhl regular because he’s not fast and the game is getting faster. he has basically no offence to give and he hasn’t improved sh*t. what a pick. manny malholtra as a comparable is depressing.

  • Kanuunankuula

    My crystal ball predictive comparison – Frederik Gauthier’s future NHL career (using past and present TML players)…

    *computer noise*…

    David Steckel

  • silentbob

    I think people are really looking only at the silver lining with Gauthier at this point.

    “I once envisioned a player with average offensive upside combined with high-end defensive skills when he was an under-18 player, but that reality is starting to look pretty unlikely, given his lack of development offensively during the past two years”

    So we’re looking at a below average offensive player who, at best, will be good defensively. Sounds like Fredrik Sjostrom or Nick Spaling to me. Those guys are/were players… but can you say much else about them?

  • silentbob

    I think you have to have the right comparable for Gauthier who I think is a better version of Brian Boyle, who was also a first round draft pick.

    Big Boyle is a useful player who steps it up a notch in the playoffs with increasing ice time. Recently, his teams have done well in the playoffs I think he has played the most playoff games of anybody in the last 4 years: 78 in total.

    If Freddy turns out to be a better version of Boyle and is a Leaf for 10 years this won’t seem bad at all.

    The reason I say “better version of Brian Boyle” is because Freddy’s skating is better. There is also the double World Junior pedigree. Boyle never made the U.S. team.

    If you check Boyle’s stats he averages 12 minutes with Tampa and 14 or 15 minutes with New York.

    In the playoffs, Boyle is always above 13 minutes and has been as high as 18 minutes in one year with New York.

    Boyle is a useful player, more like a second 3rd center than a true 4th. Not bad to have a guy that can rise to the occasion.

      • silentbob

        Yes, I think about there. Boyle’s career average works out to about 21 points per year.

        That’s what I think we get with Freddy.

        I think we will know so much more even after the first 40 games, especially if they put Freddy in the AHL.

        Freddy plays a mature game and has the size to immediately battle against big men. (I hear he is up to 235 lbs.) If Freddy is in the AHL, immediately shutting down the best there, and picking up some points then things start to look good. Even 15 points in the first 40 games would put him on track. Boyle had one year in the AHL and had 21 points in 42 games. I am looking for that. I am not expecting Freddy to equal Boyle’s AHL high of 60 points in 72 games.

  • Gary Empey

    Re- MOVING FORWARD

    “Gauthier is about to enter his first professional season and with organizational depth it remains to be seen if that will be with the Marlies or with the Solar Bears.”

    I think you are way off the mark grading this player. Read what Dubas has to say on him.

    Kyle Dubas on Frederik Gauthier—Maple Leafs Hot Stove – Jul 9, 2015

    With Frederik, I think he’s the type of guy a lot of people who are big on statistics and analytics would say he hasn’t produced as much as some of these other guys. And that’s true, he hasn’t. Mike uses a phrase that some guys are scout players and some guys are coach players. Every coach wants a player like Frederik on their team. You watch him, his skillset, his skating, his ability to move with the puck a little bit out here on the ice, and it’s come so far. When you talk to Sheldon, when you talk to Mike, he’s one of the players they’re most excited about. I think everybody gets excited about the high end, flashy skilled guys, but with Sheldon and Mike – the people who are standing behind the bench – they get excited about him because he’s a guy you can trust out there in any circumstance. He’s great on faceoffs, he’s a big body, he plays extremely well defensively, he’s got a great stick defensively, able to get his stick on the puck and move it up the ice.

    I think this year it’s going to be great for him. He’ll be with the Marlies. Sheldon really likes him. The more he sees him out here on the ice, he likes him even more. For us, we don’t just want to have him pigeonholed as this defensive center, we want him to grow as a player, we want him to expand offensively, we want him to be more assertive defensively – [Rimouski] was great spot for his development that he played so much. You could see it, especially in the Memorial Cup after the end of a long playoff run — especially in the later games in the tournament — you could see him start to try to conserve his energy and be a bit more passive and play a bit more in containment on defence.