“Toronto is proud to select, from Rimouski of the CHL, Frederik Gauthier.”
Following the game 7 meltdown, the Toronto Maple Leafs organization along with Leafs nation, focused on the following 2013 NHL entry draft. The Leafs held the 21st overall pick and selected the big C from the Rimouski Oceanic, Frederik Gauthier. Along with some others, I didn’t know much about Gauthier before the draft and even when he got drafted. When selected, Craig Button and Bob McKenzie mentioned that he was a Martin Hanzal/Jordan Staal type player. I even heard a few people say he could be the Leafs next Jay McClement. The scouting report on Gauthier is a big centerman who is a smart player in the defensive zone (Rated #1 defensive forward in the draft) but has trouble creating offense and isn’t a very strong skater.
While MANY people criticized former leafs GM Dave Nonis for this pick, the more I watched Gauthier and seeing as the 2013 draft wasn’t very deep to begin with, I see it as a pretty solid pick. Although he isn’t strong in showing up on the score sheet, Gauthier plays a responsible 2-way game and is very strong on the puck. Can we complain about having a big 2-way center-man in our system? Apparently we can. While Gauthier never has and still doesn’t possess a strong offensive game, people refuse to accept the strong suites of his game unless he puts up more points. I went from having zero clue who this kid was to loving the pick more and more every time I watch him play. But enough of me trying to make it seem as if I know what I’m talking about, here are what some fellow hubbers thought of the pick and/or Gauthier as a player:
Didn’t have any thoughts at the time. But I feel like we have a useful NHL piece and it doesn’t bother me at all that a 3rd c type was picked in first round. Others teams don’t seem to be so hung up on what round their players were drafted once they get picked they develop and the best players play where they fit. Only Toronto seems to think if a 1st round pick isn’t a top three player than he’s a bust. Lots of other spots on a team.
Disgruntled Hopeful (@LeafsLostSoul)
My initial thoughts on drafting the goat was “Great!!!! Another Biggs”
Yet after seeing him play a couple times in the Q and during the world Juniors I was OK with the pick. Will he ever become that dominant number 1 C. No. But can he play on a 3rd or 4th line at the NHL level. I am pretty sure he could. His play in his own end would be enough to drive me crazy playing against him.
Oak Leafs (@Oak_Leafs)
Don’t recall too much to be honest – I remember being surprised he was around since I believe he was projected to go higher if I recall. Loved that they got a big C but my expectations weren’t too high for a quick impact – one of those good safe picks needing patience.
“I didn’t really have a reaction. Had no idea about the kid, feverishly searched for anything/everything I could find. Once my research was complete, I knew he was a safe pick but with limited upside in offensive production.”
Doctor Robert (@DoctorRobert)
Months before the 2013 Draft, I wrote a blog about Frederik Gauthier and why the Leafs should draft him. Yes, I am a hipster. Here’s what I said:
“Gauthier has size, maturity, hockey sense, some offensive skills and a great defensive ability. He can play in every aspect of the game and is a terrific three-zone player. He wins puck battles and always makes smart plays. He simply is a two-way centre that gets the job done. It is important to note that he was used in a defensive role last year [2012-2013 season] with the Rimouski Oceanic. Gauthier often logged tough minutes against the opposing team’s best players which made it difficult for him to produce offense, but he still found a way. Gauthier was also one of the best faceoff men in the league last season and he led all QMJHL rookies in face-off percentage. This should be very attractive for a team like Toronto.” – Doctor Robert, April 2013
In short, I was gaga over his size, defensive strength and faceoff prowess because the Leafs were and still are a team composed of smaller offensive-minded centres that simply can’t win face-offs.
After Freddy the Goat was drafted, I was hounded by many people on Twitter as they believed Freddy had a “low ceiling.” These same folks were furious that the club didn’t take Shinkaruk who, for them, was a sure-fire top 6 forward in the NHL.
Clearly, these hockey gurus didn’t realize that Gauthier not only filled many voids, but he possessed all the tools for NHL success. Since his junior hockey career began, scouts lauded Freddy’s work ethic and passion for defensive hockey. He was often described as a work horse who thrived on battling for pucks and being the best in the faceoff circle. This dedication accompanied with decent stats ensured the Leafs brass that Gauthier was a winner. To that end, Leafs fans should be ecstatic as they will be treated to Freddy’s incredible displays of defensive hockey for many years to come. I fully expect him to become a high-end 3rd line centre who will play in all critical situations and get tons of PK time. Depending on his offensive development, I believe that Gauthier may be able to crack the Leafs top 6 one day.
Chelsi Darlington (@hockeychelsia)
Upon acquiring Gauthier I wasn’t too overly familiar with his play other than his impressive stint in the WJC, so I sought out some clips online.
After watching a few clips of him in the QMJHL, I was pretty impressed.
With his size, it makes him a tough customer to handle, and I look forward to his contribution to our offense, which sorely lacked this past season.
With a strong cycle game and with averaging almost a point per game, it’s not hard to be excited about this addition. His offense is extremely impressive, and while he obviously can’t be expected to recreate that immediately, his all-around play can certainly allow him to flourish here, given the right tools and development.
To be honest, I had to look him up. I was hoping for some more upside. But I figured that we drafted a 3rd liner who’s an excellent face-off guy and penalty killer. Maybe he’ll end up being elite defensively if we develop him well. I also figured that the draft he was in was not particularly deep like the 2015 draft is. He was maybe the safest pick for the Leafs. You know what he most likely will bring to the NHL.
Jude MacDonald (@JudeMac_17)
My feeling when the Goat was chosen was a positive one. I know many think now that you should be only drafted guys with high ceilings with risk involved with early picks, but I don’t share in that sentiment entirely. I guess safe pick is one way of saying how I felt. I mean that in the best way possible. With Gauthier I think size and hockey sense comes to mind right away. His makeup should ensure he’s a good solid NHLer. Sami Pahlsson or Joel Otto are a couple of the guys he put me in mind of. I maintain that Gauthier was a win at 21. A quality addition to the organization.
At the time I thought he was good addition to the growing list of young Leaf prospects, another good pick like Rielly was the year before. Solid Team Canada pedigree and marveled at his size, especially his hands, guy is a giant. Since then I have not been disappointed, think he’s going to be a special player, but in a different light. He will be a stalwart as the Leafs 3rd line center for a long time.
It’s fair to say that the leafs haven’t hit many home runs over the years when it comes to drafting, but this pick so far is a fly ball deep to right field. While some may counter this statement with “But he hasn’t played in the NHL yet” here’s something interesting: Out of the 189 players that were drafted after Gauthier in 2013, 11 of those 189 players have played games in the NHL and combined for 167 GP. Not good enough? Well, one of the best players this year in junior hockey, Max Domi, drafted 12th overall in 2013, has yet to play an NHL game. Some players, no matter what the draft position, need more time before they are ready to play at the NHL level. How much time does Gauthier need has yet to be determined (My guess is another year or two). Also, how many players in junior hockey, won a league title, World Junior title, defensive player of the year for their league AND made a Memorial Cup appearance all in one season? Not many, if not any at all. For years, one of the many issues with this team was that they would rush players into the league. However, some still manage to complain that he was a bad pick strictly due to the fact that he hasn’t played yet or because his ceiling is a 3rd line center.
Regardless of his production during his junior career, I believe that Gauthier’s offense can find its way as he develops and could turn out to be a decent 2nd line center. Will he be a Kesler, Bergeron or Malkin? Most likely not, but he will be a guy that will bring it every night, play smart and be out there for key moments in late game situations (like when we have a one goal lead with a minute left). I’ve kept a fairly close eye on Gauthier since he’s been drafted and that is what I noticed of him. You probably aren’t too concerned about my assessment of him, but recently hired and promoted, Scott Pellerin of the organization had a thing or two to say about the young Frenchman:
“If there is a defensive-zone face-off, he’s on the ice, If there’s a penalty kill, he’ son the ice. If there’s a power play, he’s on the ice. It’s unbelievable really to see the value he brings to his team. People get mixed up when they say he’s too defensive. He plays his position very well. He’s always in good support for his defense-men, he’s doesn’t cheat on the breakout, he’s available for his wingers, he’ll get in hard on the fore check, he’ll make sure he’s (in the right spot) in the offensive zone to get a shot. For us, the progression is: how do we get him to be able to attack more and be a little bit more aggressive on the puck. With my conversations with him, we’ve been able to have a bit of a dialogue in relation to the areas on the ice where he has to be stronger and the areas where he can be more dominant than he is right now.”
So you’re probably wondering: “Why should we be excited about him anyway?” With Gauthier likely headed to the Marlies next season, the talk is that they will try and maintain a young core of players to develop and win together in the AHL, which will result in Gauthier being to adapt and feel comfortable. Gauthier possesses good leadership, a winning attitude and experience from his days in Rimouski. From being a part of winning a gold medal at the World Juniors, coming back from 3-2 series deficit in the QMJHL finals and pushing an extra game in the Master Card Memorial Cup, Gauthier knows what playing under pressure/overcoming adversity is all about. With the likelihood of that translating well into the AHL, he will be seasoned and experienced enough to bring it over to the big club. The end result? A 3rd or possibly 2nd line center that will win his draws and battles while showing up on the score sheet every now and then. “With 3 seconds left on the clock, Gauthier is out there to take the final draw to try and secure two more points for the Leafs and he wins the draw cleanly into the corner, the clock runs out and the Leafs have won the hockey game!” You can’t win without those kind of players. I can picture it already. Oh yeah, our new half decent coach likes him as a player as well so I guess that’s a pretty good thing! Ladies and gents, all that is why we should be excited about Frederik Gauthier.
Thanks for reading!