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Frederik Gauthier made it to the NHL and we’re honestly just as surprised as you are

Everyone’s favourite giant forward that loves to do puzzles and says the weirdest things, Frederik Gauthier had a breakout year for what was expected of him.

Forgotten as a first-round bust, Gauthier was someone to watch during his time with the Marlies since 2015. A major candidate to prove that player development is a real thing, the 2018-19 season marked his first as a full-time Leaf — mainly because of waiver eligibility, but he was still able to play a total of 70 NHL games this season.

There were no high expectations for the player this season, but even out of necessity for a fourth-line centre, Gauthier performed just like an average defence-first time forward.

Season Recap

Gauthier scored three goals and 14 points in those 70 games he did played, while averaging only 8:22 time-on-ice per game.

Clearly the last option — Tavares, Matthews and Kadri ahead of him in the depth chart does that — but Gauthier was impressive to start the season. One of the better feel-good stories early into this season, he surprised everyone being a capable NHL player.

Sometimes your fourth-line defensive players can ruin your game, taking too many penalties, but Gauthier had only 12 PIMs on the whole season.

As the 12th-forward on the Leafs for the entire season, it’s hard to have a big opinion on how he performed, but Gauthier at least had some good moments to remember what he has gone through.

Clouded by the Dave Nonis scent, Gauthier has come out of it and was a full-time player for the first time in his professional career.

Stats and Charts

5v5 P/60 P1/60 CF% CF/60 CA/60 GF% xGF% xGF/60 xGA/60
RATES 1.48 1.66 46.00 49.13 57.68 53.33 47.75 1.77 1.93
RELATIVE -6.65 -18.74 -3.35 -1.81 -1.81 -0.93 -0.68

The rate he gets points looks good, but consider that he doesn’t play a ton of minutes and it’s one-hundred per cent a wrong indicator of the player that Gauthier is.

What tells a more accurate story is his shot attempt and expected goals numbers. Every single metric, he’s worse relative to the players he’s playing with — that is certainly something.

A black hole on offence, Gauthier’s production when it comes to CF/60 or xGF/60 while he’s on the ice is miserable. Nothing will be coming from him in the offensive zone and he’s essentially making the Leafs shorthanded.

Using the regulated adjusted plus-minus from evolving-hockey.com, it can visualize what type of player Gauthier is. His defence is really where it shows he’s above average, but when it comes to any underlying offence, it’s petrifying.

Lower than below-average, Gauthier should not be trusted to be out there for offence.

A good summary of his season in one easy-to-digest image from hockeyviz.com, it really demonstrates how Gauthier affected the Leafs while he was on the ice.

In the 5v5 Shots For graph, it shows that Gauthier hinders his teammates from getting key scoring chances, while mainly focus on his mediocre defence.

Preseason Predictions

From the “On The Bubble” series from last offseason, here’s Jon with his prediction of what would come of Frederik Gauthier:

Gauthier will spend the next two years making $100k/yr on the Marlies, and establish himself as a leader on the Marlies. He’ll get the option at the end of the deal to stick around and be a Marlies veteran since the team likes him so much. There will probably be a letter on his shirt, and that’s fine.

Unless something has drastically changed this summer, I don’t know how Gauthier can be considered for the Leafs, even as the 13th forward, but given that some have mentioned him for the role, we included him in the On the Bubble series.

Highlights

There is really nothing out there when it comes to highlights for Gauthier this season. This “Leaf to Leaf” content with Sparks is the closest thing to it.

Grade

It’s hard to justify trashing a player like Gauthier. Technically playing beyond expectations, he came into this season with many fans assuming he will be on the Marlies through waivers.

Performing above those lowly assumptions, Gauthier earned some respect from Leafs fans overall. That doesn’t get rid of his general lacklustre performance, but you have to feel for him.

For that he will get an extremely sympathetic C+.

Final Thoughts

Gauthier will most likely go on waivers this fall. Whether he gets claimed or is heading to the Marlies, it’s clear that Dubas has other players in mind when it comes to the fourth-line centre role.

Nic Petan, or Marlies like Pierre Engvall or Adam Brooks — all three of those names have more offensive upside than Gauthier. They can fit with the style and if Babcock wants to run all four lines, at least four of them will have a chance to score.

At least the weird giant that was drafted in the first round out of the QMJHL by Dave Nonis turned into something more than Tyler Biggs.

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  • Stan Smith

    I think it is obvious that Gauthier does not have an offensive upside. The analytics show it, and the eye test shows it. But, is Gauthier good at what he is, which is a 4th line centre? Where does he rank in some old school numbers on the Leafs? I compiled numbers for all 5 of Leafs centres, including Nylander, even though all of his minutes weren’t at centre.

    First let’s look at GF%, today’s equivalent to plus/minus. Tavares is #1 at 59.7%, Nylander #2 at 55%, Gauthier is #3 at 53.3%, Kadri #4 at 52.7%, and Mathews #5 at 48.7%. So, despite the fact that Gauthier doesn’t create much offense, he still has a better GF% than both Kadri and Matthews, and is only 1.7% behind Nylander.

    Speaking of Gauthier’s lack of offense, how does he rank for GF per 60 when he is on the ice? The top two, as you would expect, are Tavares and Matthews at 3.97 and 3.24 perspectively. Then you have Nylander at 2.80, Gauthier at 2.53, and Kadri at 2.35. While way behind the top 2, Gauthier comes out ahead of Kadri and not that far behind Nylander.

    Getting back to Gauthier’s defensive game. How does he rank in GA per 60, and on ice SV%? These are two categories you would expect a defensive player to excel in. In GA per 60, #1 on the team is Kadri at 2.10. #2 is Gauthier at 2.21, #3 is Nylander at 2.38, #4 is Tavares 2.68. Matthews is by far the worse in this category at 3.24.

    On ice SV% #1 is Kadri .938, #2 is Nylander at .927 followed closely by Gauthier at .925. 4th is Tavares at .922. Last again, and quite aways behind the group is Matthews at .901.

    The last number I looked at was Defensive Zone starts. Of course this number is determined by the coach, but it goes to his mindset as the what he expects from his players, and his trust in them defensively. It also has a direct effect on most of the analytic stats that players get rated by. This time I am going to go backwards. Last in this category is almost a draw between Nylander at 41.5 % and Matthews at 41.6%. 3rd is Kadri at 47.1%, 2nd is Tavares at 48.2%. The only player with a positive number in this category is Gauthier, at a whopping 70.8%. That tells me two things. First, that Babcock depends heavily on Gauthier in defensive situations, and second, it is amazing with that high a Dzone starts, that Gauthier is still a positive in GF%, and ranks ahead of others in a number of the other stats at all.
    (Note, all numbers, with the exception of zone starts are 5 on 5 number from naturalstatrick)

    Based on those numbers, maybe Gauthier isn’t that bad a player after all. What about the eye test? To me the 4th line was day and night better once Babcock moved Lindholm to the wing on the 3rd line, and inserted Gauthier as centre. On the rare occasion Petan came in, in replacement of Gauthier, the line was a total disaster. Gauthier was not only defensively responsible, he was good at cycling the puck down low in the offensive zone, appeared to me to be pretty solid through the neutral zone with the puck, and despite not being really aggressive, he was able to use his big body in all the zones very well.

    The only other thing I want to mention is the praise Gauthier not only gets from Babcock, but from Dubas, as well. When you consider the cap constraints the Leafs are going to have this coming season, and his $675K salary, I will be very surprised if Frederik Gauthier is not in the opening night roster next season.