Maple Leafs Prospects: Frederik Gauthier Expectations


Every week throughout the NHL season and off-season we will be updating you on the development, potential and realistic expectations for key Toronto Maple Leafs prospects with up-to-date stats, analysis and scouting reports

Maple Leafs Prospects: Frederik Gauthier

The video starts out with TSN’s Director Of Amateur Scouting; Craig Button and his break down of Frederik Gauthier during his draft year. We all know Button can be a little “out there”, and he continues that trend when at the beginning of the video he rates Frederik Gauthier’s skills.

Button breaks down Gauthier’s skills as follows;

Skating – 4/5

Hockey IQ – 5/5

Hands – 4/5

Shot – 3/5

Competitiveness – 4/5

When looking upon those rankings it appears the Leafs got a massive steal at 21st overall and possibly a legit 1st, probably 2nd line center for the next decade. That is part of an ongoing back and forth opinion on Frederik Gauthier where one week he is a bust, and the next week he is a 20+ goal and 60+ point center. The truth about Frederik Gauthier most likely lies somewhere between the two extremes, while it is highly unlikely that he ascends to the level of a NHL No.1 center, it is also too early to call him a bust.

Hockey IQ – 5/5

This, though, was likely influenced by a campaign where Gauthier couldn’t get his legs under him, missing training camp and a good chunk of the start of the year due to injury, only to miss nearly a month towards the end of the year with a concussion. – Scott Walker, Pension Plan Puppets

Frederik Gauthier is an undeniably intelligent hockey player who sees the ice extremely well and uses this vision to be very effective defensively. He has not as of yet turned that intelligence towards progressing as an offensive threat, dropping from .962 points per game last season, to only .864 PPG this year. This lack of progress with his offensive game is the major driving reason behind all the talk of him being a “bust”.

However, the real cause that no positive progress was made this season was a series of significant injuries. So he has the high Hockey IQ, even if he hasn’t proven the ability to add an offensive element to his game – we’ll see how that transitions inside the Marlies system over the next couple years before passing last judgement. That being said Gauthier really raised his game in the playoffs, potting 16 points in 20 games during the QMJHL playoffs, followed by 4 points in 4 games as Rimouski was eliminated from the Memorial Cup.

Competitiveness – 4/5

Frederik Gauthier won the Guy Carbonneau trophy as the QMJHL’s Defensive Player Of The Year and was counted on in key defensive situations and every big face off his team had. You don’t win that kind of award without some competitive features, so looks likes Button was on the money there too.

Shot – 3/5 and Hands 4/5

Gauthier has spent three seasons and playoffs in the QMJHL now and has the following (regular season/playoff) goal totals to show for it;

2012/13 – 22G in 62GP / 0G in 6GP

13/14 – 18G in 54GP / 3G in 11GP

14/15 – 16G in 37GP / 2G in 20GP + 1G in 4 Memorial Cup games

He will always be more of a pass first center than a shooter, even with the limited offence he has shown so far. He is fantastic on the fore-check and establishing the cycle game, especially while working from below the goal line and behind the net, but could stand to be more aggressive and puck hungry.

He has a heavy shot, but has so far had difficulty elevating it off the ice, making for easy saves by the hordes of goalies practicing the Butterfly technique made popular by Patrick Roy. Even 3/5 at this point seems a little generous as his shot isn’t something to be afraid of by most goalies.

Never known to be a dangler, or particularly great puck handler, he uses his massive frame to keep it safe and his very high Hockey IQ to take advantage of opponents mis-plays and take the puck away. Adding the defensive element of his game to the equation and I guess we can give Button the benefit of the doubt to his “Hands” rating, but make no mistake, Gauthier will never be mistaken for Patrick Kane. Even with the defensive elements thrown in, 4/5 seems very high with his low offensive numbers,

Skating – 4/5

It looks like Leafs Skating Development Coach Barb Underhill has really paid off for Frederik Gauthier, as his skating which used to be very shallow with straight legs no longer holds him back. Underhill’s work was quite noticeable this season as Gauthier’s stride is now much lower and wider generating more natural explosiveness and turning a glaring weakness into a moderate strength.

He (again) will never be confused with Patrick Kane (sorry guys and gals) but his skating improvements give hope that a full healthy season in the AHL could finally see some offensive output from him. 4/5 is still being a tad generous as Gauthier is now merely a competent skater and not a speedster.

All in all Craig didn’t do a terrible job of breaking down Gauthier’s game, but like a lot of hometown types are guilty of, he overvalued Gauthier – or at least where he is at this moment of his career.

Getting To Know: Frederik Gauthier

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Age: 20 Years Old

Position: Center

Shoot: Left

Height / Weight: 6ft4 / 215Lbs

Drafted: 2013 NHL Entry Draft, 21st Overall, 1st Round

Contract Status: 3 Year ELC, 863,333K Per Year as usual does an excellent job of summarizing Frederik Gauthier:

"Gauthier is a polished prospect who combines great size with a mature game at both ends of the ice. The same on-ice vision and hockey sense that makes him a dangerous contributor at the offensive side of the game serves him well in breaking up opposing plays in his own zone. He is strong on the cycle, skates well and uses his size to win battles. Gauthier is very good in the face-off circle. Though he may never be a top offensive threat, he has too many tools to ignore."

Essentially, Gauthier breaks down as a GIANT, defensively ELITE center who may or may not have untapped offensive potential.

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When paired with other behemoths Lawson Crouse and Nick Ritchie for Team Canada’s entry into the U-20 WJHC this year, Gauthier helped form one of Canada’s most dominant lines, that while they didn’t score a lot (2G/5Pts combined), kept the puck in the other teams end for long stretches of play and was incredibly effective at shutting down opposing offensive chances.

If Gauthier can keep improving his skating, and find a way to get his shot off the ice and stay healthy, then there is every chance that he blossoms into a complete 200ft monster of a center. Conservatively, at this point we can confidently project Gauthier becoming an NHL player, it is just a matter of whether that will be on the 4th, 3rd or 2nd line by the time he graduates that remains up for discussion.

NHL Upside: Frederik Gauthier

Upside: 2nd Line Shutdown center with offensive abilities and a staple on both specialty team units, 20+G 50+Pts

Realistic Projection: 3rd Line Shutdown + PK Center, 10+G 30+Pts

NHL Ready: 2017-2018, might be ready for spot call up duty in 2016-2017

NHL Player Comparable: High End – Patrice Bergeron, Mid Tier – Jordan Staal, Low End – Michael Handzus

Next week we’ll continue to break down the Leaf’s prospect pipeline.

As always, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on twitter @TorrinBatchelor as you can never have too many conversations about hockey in a day!

Next: Leafs Draft: Case For Anthony Beauvillier

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