The Toronto Maple Leafs got the big centre they were looking for with the 21st pick, selecting Frederik Gauthier from the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. Gauthier is a big, two-way centre (listed at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds) that is strong defensively but his offensive potential remains a question mark. He scored a lackluster 22 goals in 62 games in the QMJHL last season.
The Edmonton Oilers blog Copper & Blue had a great series of profiles breaking down 30 top draft prospects’ scoring totals, and how they compare to other players who have been drafted before them. His comparable players include Boyd Gordon, Nick Foligno, Brandon Sutter and Steve Ott. All of these guys are steady NHLers, but don’t exactly qualify as exciting players. Obviously, Gauthier’s offensive game could develop exponentially in the next few years, but judging by most of the players who scored at his rate in junior, I wouldn’t expect too much from him.
It looks like Dave Nonis went the safe route by selecting Gauthier, which fits his personality pretty well. It’s not the boom-or-bust pick many were hoping for at this spot, but it could have been worse. Gauthier skates very well for his size and given his strong defensive game, many expect him to at least be a third-line centre at the NHL level. You could do a lot worse than that with a first-round pick.
I would’ve preferred to go with Hunter Shinkaruk (who fell all the way to 24th after being ranked 14th in Bob McKenzie’s final rankings) in this spot, given his offensive ability. Another guy who I really liked who didn’t get much love from rankings was winger Artturi Lehkonen, who put up strong numbers playing in Finland’s top league. Maybe he’ll be available in the second round. All things considered, I’ll give this pick a C+. What are your thoughts on the Gauthier pick?