The challenge of trying to project their future role in the NHL (if they have one) is the same as any prospect playing below professional leagues, but with these kids you're dealing with a much smaller sample size of information.
Due to the draft day trade for Dave Bolland, the Maple Leafs only made five selections in the 2013 Entry Draft. Three late round selections, 5th rounder Fabrice Herzog, 6th rounder Antoine Bibeau, and 7th rounder Andreas Johnson, are largely unknowns at this point starting up a long road of long odds to make it to the NHL. As is typical with most late round picks when they enter our countdown, they were not significantly considered.
We already saw 3rd round pick Carter Verhaeghe, who managed to crack into the lower levels of our countdown (aided by a fairly shallow pool of available candidates this time around).
So what to do with our first round pick, Frederik Gauthier? Taken 22nd overall, the Rimouski Oceanic forward is not only the first Leaf prospect since Philippe Paradis to play in the Q, he is the first Leaf prospect to be drafted by the Leafs from the Q since Mikhail Stefanovich in 2008, and the first Leaf prospect to be drafted from the Q in the 1st round since Vincent Damphousse in 1986. Clearly, the QMJHL is not a pond that the Leafs have gone fishing from all that often.
At first blush, the Gauthier pick seems like a bit of a safe pick. At 6'4" and 216 lbs as an 18-year old, there are obvious comparisons to be made to Tyler Biggs as a big, powerful forward that would be expected to dominate physically. But Gauthier's game is more complex than that.
First, Corey Pronman notes that his skating is exceptional for his size, and that he possesses strong offensive hockey sense. But in the Copper 'N Blue draft coverage, they examined Gauthier's case, noting that he has size, strength, skating, and skill. And yet was expected by most to be a late round pick. Why? Because, as Scott Reynolds pointed out, he doesn't have the offensive results to go along with the skillset. And that means, when trying to project Gauthier down the road, he currently sits in a purgatory of sorts with respect to where he may end up.
Frederik Gauthier has a decent chance of becoming an NHL player, especially given his defensive skills, but his chance of being a really impactful player isn't all that strong, and his chance of busting completely isn't negligible.
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So why does he land at 12? Two reasons stand out in my mind. Like with Tyler Biggs, he has a lot of raw skills that are going to afford him chances to develop into something. So when considering him against other boom-or-bust type picks, he has the advantage of a lower risk of failure.
Having said that, unlike Biggs, Gauthier's offensive concerns are more a condition of his environment (whereas we feel Biggs simply doesn't possess the skillset). In the Copper N Blue article, it's noted that Gauthier didn't produce a terribly significant volume of shots, which is something that we can monitor for progress when he returns to Rimouski this fall. Yet Gauthier still collected 62 points in 60 games, and I can get behind a guy that manages that production as a 17 year old.
The other thing to consider is Gauthier's usage. One of the names Reynolds roduced as a comparable for Gauthier was Philadelphia draft pick Scott Laughton, and it's apt because both of them faced a similar challenge in their draft year - both of them were used in a defensive role by their junior team, frequently playing against other teams' top offensive stars.
So when you combine all the physical traits, a burgeoning offensive touch, and a strong defenisve game, you're left with all the skills to create an effective two-way hockey player that should be a fixture in the Top 9 of an NHL team, and with some luck, a Top siix forward. Oh, and when he speaks English he sounds like Andre the Giant, which doesn't necessarily raise his rankings but certainly doesn't hurt.
IHapparentely got a good two-way game and I guess he's young enough he could still conceivably be a top 6 guy.
solid C prospect that likely makes the NHL eventually thanks to his size and defensive acumen. Has offensive upside that has yet to really be tapped into.Gauthier was a fairly consensus pick around the Top 10, with nobody putting him higher than 10th, and with the exception of PPP and Burtch, nobody had him lower than 13th.
Gauthier sneaks by Granberg for the 12th spot with 166 points, and actually finished in a tie with our 11th place entry. However, the next entry single-highest vote was 6th which trumped Gauthier's high of 10.