The Carolina Hurricanes have signed 2016 21st overall draft pick Julien Gauthier to an entry-level contract. The three-year deal will come with a $925,000 cap hit and pay the 18-year-old $832,500 at the NHL level and $70,000 at the AHL level as well as a $92,500 signing bonus.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) July 9, 2016
Gauthier was a unique prospect heading into the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. His size, skill, and speed made for the perfect combination on the ice. While playing with Val d’Or of the QMJHL, Gauthier looked like a man playing against kids due to his large 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame. This led to some hesitation among scouts as it wasn’t clear if his output was a result of his physical dominance or actual on-ice ability. The Hurricanes took a chance on the young winger, and Gauthier will certainly look to impress in years to come.
The Hurricanes are currently light on the right wing, both in size and actual players. The only natural right winger currently under contract with any NHL experience on the club is Lee Stempniak who recently signed a two-year, $5 million contract at the open of free agency. 21-year-old Elias Lindholm has played at the right wing position in the past, but he could see himself garner more time at the center ice position next year.
While it’s unclear if Gauthier is ready to play at the NHL this season, he will have a good opportunity to showcase his ability throughout training camp and the preseason. It’s a cliché as old as time, but size simply cannot be taught, and Gauthier has that in spades. Combine that with his ability on the ice at just 18-years-old, and Gauthier could be considered a steal with the 21st overall draft pick in a few years.