Every year, there's a prospect or two whose combination of hockey sense and a prototypical NHL frame make for intense discussions at the draft table. This year, look no further than Frederik Gauthier.
Scouts have raved about his complete, 200-foot game and total commitment to excelling in all three zones. For a young kid, the emerging skills and towering 6-foot-3 frame are a rare commodity and you have to think some team (if one hasn't already) will fall in love with the kid and do whatever it can to move up the draft board.
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In his first season with Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL), Gauthier was a standout player. He scored 22 goals and totaled 60 points in 62 games, and didn't miss a beat despite a broken jaw that caused him to miss two weeks of action in the fall. Gauthier is considered to be a bit of a project because of an occasional bout with inconsistency, but there's no questioning his hockey sense.
He has a knack for being around the puck at the right time and being on what coaches call "the right side of the puck." At 18 years of age, that's quite the compliment to be paid. Scouts have projected Gauthier as the ideal second or third-line center that can play against any of the opposition's lines, but preferably in a position to shut down offense.
Gauthier is above average in the face-off circle and with age and more strength, he should only excel further in that regard. His 46.6 face-off win percentage was the best among all QMJHL rookies in 2012-13.
NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Bordeleau offers his take on Gauthier:
"I've never seen a kid get back and play defense like he does in 20 years. In his own end, he's always around the puck. A kid that can play defense like he does at his age, with that kind of maturity, is very rare."
After checking in at No. 7 among North American skaters on Central Scouting's midterm rankings, Gauthier fell one spot to No. 8 at the end of the term. His 60-point total was good for fourth among QMJHL rookies.
More on Gauthier's game from Patrick King of Sportsnet:
Gauthier has the size – listed at six-foot-three and 193 pounds – but doesn’t use it in a physical sense, as his penalty minutes would suggest. He plays well at both ends of the rink and excels mostly in the faceoff circle. He won approximately 47 per cent of his draws, and only six players in the QMJHL took more face-offs than his 1,463 this season. Gauthier can be an imposing presence in front of the net on the power-play and a valued penalty killer due to his defensive acumen.