French Canadian center Frédérik Gauthier is a player that possesses impressive size and well above-average intelligence at both ends of the ice but this actual offensive potential is so unknown and likely limited that he projects to be a late-round option rather that a real threat to go in the first 15 picks of the draft.
Gauthier, at 6-5 and 215 lbs, is one of the biggest centers in the draft and already well known for his incredible hockey smarts. Coming out of midget and prep-school hockey in Canada, Gauthier was heavily recruited by Harvard before deciding to continue his hockey career in the QMJHL. He had a bit of an up and down season with Rimouski and while there were certainly flashes of brilliance, he was more of a streaky player in regards to offensive production than many want to see in a sure-fire first round pick.
What Gauthier does bring to the table is an elite two-way ability as well as top-notch faceoff skills. He's compared often to Jordan Staal or Martin Hanzal, although the comparison to Staal might be a bit unfair. What is known ist hat he's a hard-working player with a high work ethic and is described as the ultimate "team player" while also possessing very good skating skills for a player his size. Described as "developing as a playmaker," Gauthier's value so far in the QMJHL has been more of a two-way defensive specialist than as a pure scorer from the center position.
There also seems to be some conflicting reports in regards to how he uses his large frame. Some scouts say he needs to add some aggressiveness to his game to take advantage of his size, while others claim he benefits from being one of the meaner physical presences on the ice while effectively using his size to create space.
While possessing top-notch skating ability, his stickhandling and shot seem to be fairly average -- and it seems he's hesitant to really pull out the offensive tricks some feel he is capable of. This leads to some concern about just what sort of player he'd be in the NHL in regards to offense, as he is currently projected to be a very good third-line center as his offense seems to be limited.
Gauthier is also getting criticism for disappearing a bit in the QMJHL playoffs, yet he had a very strong performance for Team Canada at the U-18 World Juniors this past season.
Gauthier is absolutely not going to be an option at No. 10 for the Stars -- although some mocks have him going that high -- but he could be a very good value pick with their late first-round pick at No. 29 or No. 30.
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Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus (Ranked No. 31)
Gauthier experienced an up-and-down campaign. He showed significant flashes, but also lapsed offensively for long stretches. He measures at 6'5", 214 pounds, has some offensive talent, and shows advanced play for his age. He is an above-average skater, well above-average for a player his size, as he has a real easiness to his stride. He exerts little effort in his pushoffs, and he picks up speed very well. He is very agile, given his size. He had good offensive numbers this season, despite lining up against the opposition's best players and taking a lot of defensive zone draws. He has a good amount of offensive hockey sense, but sometimes he is too conservative and would be better served by letting his creativity show. His pure offensive upside is a question mark. He also can be a gentle giant at times. He will engage, and I would not describe his play as soft, but he will not throw his body around, and he is not the meanest of players. Despite his frame, he does need to get stronger, and he could stand to shoot a tad more as well.
International Scouting Services (Ranked No. 18)
A very smart and hard working kid, Gauthier is a solid team player who does whatever is asked of him with pride and determination. He has very good speed and intimidates his opponents with his speed and size. Another advantage is he has a strong work ethic and good defensive habits at a young age. He plays such a solid consistent game 5 on 5 that he should be able to translate that into the pro ranks. Particularly effective when used on the penalty kill where his speed and hockey sense can lead to unexpected offensive opportunities. Can play either a skilled game or a hard-nosed physical game. Has surprising acceleration and ability to change speeds for such a big kid.
HockeyProspect.com Draft Guide (Ranked No. 29)
Perhaps Gauthier lived in the shadows of other QMJHL rookies this season, at least on the score sheet, but he managed to put together a solid performance throughout the year. When talking about Gauthier, the one word we continually go back to is intelligence. He displays it in all phases of the game and reading the play extremely well. He knows where to position himself to be effective and showed to be one step ahead of his opponents on numerous occasions. If takeaways were to be counted by the QMJHL, there is no doubt you would find Gauthier's name at the top. He creates many turnovers in the defensive and neutral zone with his long reach and more specifically his awareness. His play on defense and the penalty kill was stellar; his positioning was excellent and he did a good job using his big body defensively.