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PPP's Top 25 Under 25 - #16 Frederik Gauthier

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The big centre takes a dip in our rankings, after failing to find an offensive boost after the draft.

Former first round draft picks generally get held to a higher standard.

That might seem a little bit unfair, but let’s think about this for a second. Teams plan all season for the Entry Draft; scouting hundreds of players, watching thousands of games, conducting countless interviews. They break down as much minutiae of a player’s physical, mental and intangible skills and then try and figure out who can actually be useful to an NHL team years down the road. Then, at the end of all that, each team gets an opportunity to place their bets that this kid will be the one to achieve the potential that was argued, discussed and debated about for months.

The first bet made, those first-round selections, represent the team’s first chance, among all the other players that are available, to draft a player that will have a meaningful impact in the NHL.

So we judge them a little more harshly than a 6th round pick.

One year removed from being the Maple Leafs 1st round draft pick in the 2013 Entry Draft, Rimouski Oceanic forward Frederik Gauthier leaves us wanting more. And as a result, he drops four places in our rankings, landing at #16.

Birthyear: 1995-04-26 Birthplace: Laval, QC, CAN
Age: 19 Nation: Canada
Position: C/W Shoots: L
Height: 193 cm / 6'4" Weight: 98 kg / 216 lbs
Youth Team: AHM St-Lin Contract: 17/18
Drafted: 2013 round 1 #21 overall by Toronto Maple Leafs

It’s not that Gauthier’s performances have left us with virtually no reason to believe he’ll be a future NHLer, like the results of Tyler Biggs’ performances since the 2011 Draft have. Far from it. When drafted, Gauthier was a point per game centreman who also handled several key defensive duties for a fairly deep Rimouski team.  The bigger issue is that Gauthier, a big kid who doesn’t fit the "power forward" model but is able to use his size for offence and defence, didn’t show the sort of growth this season you would anticipate from a player of his stature.

When we talked to Gus Katsaros about Gauthier, the refrain was too familiar; the Leafs appear to have prioritized a player that does "the little things" well and not somebody who actually contributes the big things (like offence)

[Gauthier] thinks, anticipates and reacts to game conditions with maturity and sophisitication beyond his age… responsible and industrious, a multi-faceted pivot incorporating a solid skating stride and sharp lateral shifts limiting space and opposition skating lanes…  Limited offensive capability, reliant more on work ethic and positioning than natural inherent skill… puck moving skill are good, however expanding vision and removing blinders at time would be a benefit as would incorporating more teammate support.

Going forward, likely limited to a support role, somewhere in the lower roster, capable of eating up minutes against secondary opposition, while offering skills to the PK… there’s still room improvement offensively, but has to play more inside the dots to hope to achieve more than a support role.

At the beginning I said first round picks are held to a higher standard, and that doesn’t sound like a first-round pick to me. But that’s a failing of Dave Nonis and Dave Morrison. Gauthier doesn’t control who picks him where, he only controls what he does after being picked. And last season, he didn’t show enough offensive growth. His defensive duties increased significantly, becoming the primary shut-down defender for Rimouski, and playing a fourth-line role for Team Canada at the World Junior Tournament, but going into his likely last season of junior hockey, we need to see rapid expansion in Gauthier’s offensive game to be convinced he’s not just another late first round pick the team used to try and grab a fourth liner.

Coming off the first round selection, with adequate offensive numbers for an 18-year old (and a system with many question marks) Gauthier’s promise put him just outside the Top 10. Now a year later, optimism has been curtailed somewhat, and most voters moved Gauthier back closer to the Top 20. As a result Gauthier slipped four places, finishing just two points shy of our 15th ranked player.

Name birky BowerPower Burtch Chemmy clrkaitken Nikota PPP SkinnyFish 67 Sound FINAL RANK
Frederik Gauthier 11 18 18 19 19 14 17 12 15 16
Previous Ranking 10 11 18 12 10 13 17 12 10 12

A bit disappointed with a lack of offensive improvement in the QMJHL last season. Needs to show improvement if he hopes to land a regular spot in the NHL long-term – SteveBurtch

Checkers and grinders come from somewhere. – Chemmy

Gauthier’s far from being written off. The panel is collectively skeptical about his future contributions in the NHL.