By Eldon MacDonald
Frédérik Gauthier - “Mr. “Not Just Anybody” – Center – Canada
Size: 6’4”, 219 lb.
Born: 26-Apr-95 – Mascouche, QC; hometown, St-Lin Laurentides, QC
Team: #23, Rimouski Océanic, QMJHL
2011-12 Stats: QMJHL rookie in 2012-13
A List – NHL Central Scouting Preliminary Rankings
22 – ISS – Oct-12
Mr. Not Just Anybody
- Who is the player that player that Kyle Woodlief of Redline Report is calling “the biggest surprise anywhere so far”? No, I am not going to tell you but I will let you check it out for yourself.
- Who is the player that made a commitment to attend not just any school but “the school”? No, I am not going to tell you what school but I will give you a hint; George W. Bush, yes, the George W. Bush, is a graduate from there.
- So who could have helped Frédérik change his mind about attending the prestigious “the school” and committing to play in the Q at Rimouski? It couldn’t be just anybody. As not to be too cruel, I will give you a hint: both Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavalier are ex-Rimouski Océanic players. If you guessed either one, you would be correct. As Frédérik, himself, told LaPresse, “When a guy like that (Crosby) calls you, you listen”. Oops…I just gave up the answer to question 2 with the “LaPresse link”; got to be more careful.
- So who is the player that led the CHL rookie scoring race as of October 19, 2012 with 16 points in 12 games? Couldn’t be just anybody and I am going to be a nice guy for once and tell you!!! Yes, surprise, surprise, it was Frédérik Gauthier, #23, from the Rimouski Océanic.
Not Just Any Player but Frédérik Gauthier, The Player
Why are scouts so excited about this player who suddenly appears on the scene and seems to be on an upward progression to stardom?
- Scoring: At one time, he was not known for his scoring ability but look at the “Leader Board” – Number one in the CHL in rookie scoring. The trio of Frédérik, 6’3 201 lb. Scott Oke and 5’11 180 lb. Peter Trainor are cutting quite a swath in the early days of the 2012-13 QMJHL season. As well as scoring, all of them have a very high plus-minus (+12 to +14 with +13 for Frédérik).
- Skating: He has been criticized in the past for his skating but look at his first goal against Shawinigan on October 7, 2012. The player that scored that goal was flying. Yes, he could stand to improve his agility and his passing speed but Frédérik has improved his skating enough that he just leaves scouts wondering how good he can be if he improves his skating even further. The video is from Jerome Berube of HockeyProspects.com and you really should bookmark his site if you want to follow the exploits of the stars of the 2013 NHL draft. Seek out his isolation video of Nathan MacKinnon when you are there.
- Size: Many say that he doesn’t use his size enough. Although this is true to a certain extent, at 6’4, 219 lb. he is plenty strong to do what he wants for the most part. His 6’4 size also gives him a considerable reach advantage over most players. 6’4, 219 pounders who can skate decently and score don’t grow on trees. The thought of what this guy can do when he starts to more effectively optimize the use of his god-given size and strength down the road is what has scouts drooling today.
- Defensive awareness: The scouting fraternity tend to agree on one thing: Frédérik Gauthier has that defensive awareness that is not often seen in “raw rookies”. His acumen in his own end is reminiscent of Sean Couturier.
- Vision: A lot of that defensive awareness comes from Frédérik’s ability to read what is happening around him and properly adjust to the changing circumstances. At the moment, Frédérik is still too passive in his play in that it is still mainly reactionary. However, as he adjusts to his new league that will start to change and he will be the one initiating the play.
- Other skills: Frédérik is still very raw in most of his skills. However, they are coming along. For instance, he is still under 50% in face-offs but he had one game recently where he went 17 to 23. His passing is pretty good but his shot is something that requires an upgrade to bring it to NHL minimums.
The Road Ahead: how much more “magique” is there to come?
Frédérik Gauthier is different than most of his competitors vying to be a 1st round draftee in the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He is different because he is just coming out of a huge growth spurt (think mere mortal to The Hulk) and is a raw rookie. He is a player trying to establish his game, a player trying to carve out his identify, a player working on his relationships with his new teammates, a player trying to find out what works and doesn’t at his new level and a player adjusting to his new mammoth size .
In such a milieu, there is likely to be a few curves along the road to the draft, maybe even esses. However, the combination of enormous size, the ability to put up the points, the ability to work well with his teammates, his innate defensive zone awareness and the decent full-steam speed are enough that scouts can overlook any skills that need further work.
Watch a game on television featuring Gauthier and you may not hear Frédérik’s name for extended periods. But then, suddenly, you hear what is the best word in the French language: “magique”. When you hear that word you know the announcers are likely referring to Frédérik Gauthier.
You often see new rookies in the league make a sudden drastic improvement in their game after they adjust to the league. Many times that happens just after the Christmas break. Will that happen to Frédérik? Will we see a transformation of some those raw skills that he now possesses into even more “magique”? I am betting that the answer is yes, but there are no guarantees.
It is a little early for draft projections with Frédérik but the potential is there for him to rocket into the teens of the 1st round. ISS already have him at 22 in their Oct-12 rankings.