Photo by Bri Weldon
Making draft predictions is always hard. Predicting down to 13? Come on! How’s a guy supposed to look competent with a draft position like that?! Oh, and we’re looking at the Jets, whose scouting staff aren’t afraid to go off-board. But they have to take someone… The good news is that Jets Nation is here to help you get excited about the many impact players that might be available at #13, just tempting the Jets to make a reach pick. Because it wouldn’t be the Jets if you weren’t confused and disappointed on draft day!
- 6’4.5", 214-219lbs
- Centre, Left handed
- 40th overall in 2011 QMJHL Entry Draft
- 62 GP 22-38-60
- NHL Equivalency (82games): 8-14-22
- "Good-Better-Best" Comparables: Dave Steckel, Nik Antropov, Martin Hanzal
Today on NHL.com, both Mike Morreale and Adam Kimelman selected sizable two-way centre Frederik Gauthier for the Jets in their respective mock drafts, noting his 200-ft play and solid offence. Gauthier has had an unusual route for a high-end prospect, though – playing his 16 and 17 year old seasons in Midget AAA. This season was his first in Major Junior, impressively finishing 4th in scoring on Rimouski with 22 goals and 60 points in 62 games. Knowing the Jets love both size and late bloomers, there is some sense to this pick. Yet few players represent the lack of consensus in this draft better than Gauthier.
With so much talent available in this draft, is it worth risking the 13th pick on a player with only one season of Major Junior experience?
What’s he like? I bet he’s good. Is he good?
Despite the rankings on Gauthier fluctuating wildly – from Central Scouting’s rank of 8th best North American skater to Corey Pronman at Hockey Prospectus putting him at 31 in his total draft rankings – Gauthier is widely recognized as a polished player with strong skating and impressive two-way ability.
Pronman had this to say about him:
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.
Hockey Futures were slightly more succinct and liked his use of size a little more:
Already a polished prospect, Gauthier combines great size with a mature game at both ends of the ice. The same on-ice vision and hockey sense that makes him a dangerous contributor at the offensive side of the game also serves him well in breaking up opposing plays in his own zone. He’s strong on the cycle, skates well and uses his size to win battles. Though he may never be a top offensive threat, he has too many tools to ignore.
What’s not to like?
If you believe McKeen’s, Gauthier was two different players this year. He was aggressive, defensively responsible, and effective in using both his bulk and wing span until breaking his jaw – after which he was tentative.
It’s an incident that both inspires hope and draws criticism.
We can imagine Pronman’s viewing of the player through Gauthier’s physical pain as a young man not being paid to play. Gauthier could be a draft steal at #13 if his play was worsened by playing injured. Further, lacking some (almost all) of the amenities and support a player like Sidney Crosby would have for such an injury, Gauthier would still be riding buses and trying to choke down Subway sandwiches for fuel.
From another perspective, it may show an unwillingness to play a role that will be expected of him in professional hockey given his size and limited offensive gifts. I loathe the suggestion (so often made about young hockey players) that Gauthier should have been reckless with his health to make a point. Yet as a late-bloomer with a limited resume in Major Junior, the team to select Gauthier will have a lot of questions left to answer. Is his offence building? Can he use his size to control the ice like Martin Hanzal? Does he think the game well enough to contribute offensively like Nik Antropov? Will he get strong enough and mean enough to play a physical game like David Steckel?
What would Winnipeg do? Gauthier is not my preferred selection for the Jets. As Craig Button is fond of pointing out, the biggest mistakes on draft day usually involve fetishizing size. The Jets, who severely lacked offensive punch this past season, can ill afford to have a David Steckel selection in the first round of a deep draft. Though picking outside the top 10 requires accepting some flaws, sacrificing offensive upside for size seems like a mistake to me. There are too many questions marks, too many flags raised by his scattered draft rankings to consider Gauthier at #13.