The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced today that centre Frederik Gauthier has been called up to the Leafs.

As covered in depth here, today is the Holiday Roster Freeze. By calling Gauthier up now, after December 11, the Leafs may loan him back to the Marlies anytime before the end of the day on December 23.  He could be in the Marlies lineup for their next game on Boxing Day.  If they choose not to send him back, he is with the Leafs until December 28, which is the middle of the Florida portion of their WJC road trip.

Gauthier is a left-shooting centre, so he isn’t an exact replacement for Ben Smith, if the Leafs should decide they want to try him out on the fourth line. However, Smith has played wing before when other centres have been used on that line, so there is the option to keep the right-handed penalty killer in the lineup and still give Gauthier a tryout.

Gauthier is an accomplished penalty killer himself on the Marlies, and succeeds at that level.  As the third line centre this year, often playing with Kasperi Kapanen, he has very few points, just one goal and three assists.  But over half of Kapanen’s goals and almost all of his assists are on the power play. He hasn’t been producing at five-on-five much better than Gauthier has.

On the other hand, judging from practice lines, it looks like the Leafs are having a bit of an epidemic of...something. Good thing William Nylander has been getting in some practice at centre.