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.
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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.
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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.
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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

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.
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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.
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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.