Gauthier is described as a very dedicated defender with off the charts focus in his own zone by NHL Central Scouting, but he has an underrated offensive game that saw him post 22 goals and 60 points in 62 QMJHL games last year. That production rate of 0.97 ppg ranked 7th of players under 18 in the Q. Expect his hockey IQ, long reach and size to remain extremely valuable long term even if his offensive development stalls out.
He likely makes the NHL as a strong defensive forward at the low end, but if his offensive play improves he could pose a solid 2 way threat in the future. He skates very well for a player his size, though his apparent effort level will likely seem low due to the ease and fluidity of his stride. He covers a lot of ice thanks to his lanky frame so don't let that deceive you. His shot - while heavy - is not his best asset, as the space and time he requires to get it off detract slightly from it's usefulness. In the upcoming year his coaches in Rismouski would like to see him get it off more often as they feel it is an underrated part of his game. That being said, even if his shot selection and timing don't improve drastically, his positioning, ability to read the play, and decent hands should allow him to produce long term.
It should be noted that he was facing top competition for most of the year so that likely put a damper on his offensive output. Look for him to make significant improvements in coming years as he fills into his frame and learns to make better use of his size down low against smaller opponents. His puck protection skills and board work are already above average for a player his age so this should be a natural improvement in time.
Here are his pre-draft rankings from a variety of scouting services:
|NHL CS||8 NAS|
Obviously he has 1st round talent according to many sources, but the unknowns regarding his offensive upside left some scouts with reservations. If it's any consolation to Leafs fans, the Habs GM Marc Bergevin was apparently displeased at having to remove Gauthier's name from his draft list. Here's hoping the Leafs have addressed some organizational gaps with some more skill at Centre.
Here is a highlights package of his play at the IIHF World U-18 tourney from this past year: