Today’s ‘back to school’ article features 2016 first-round (#21 overall) draft pick Julien Gauthier.
Menu of links to previous Carolina Hurricanes prospect profiles
Gauthier was the second of two first-round selections in the 2016 NHL draft. The big power forward was selected 21st overall. Gauthier brings an NHL-ready physique and good skill and skating for a power forward and projects to one day be a top 6 forward. If he does not make the Carolina Hurricanes NHL roster in for the 2016-17 season, Gauthier will return to the Val-d’Or Foreurs in the Quebec Junior Major Hockey League where he had 41 goals and 57 points in 54 games last season.
Interview with Val-d’Or Foreurs coach Mario Durocher
Mario Durocher has been a permanent coach in the QJMHL since season 2000-2001, starting is fifth season with the Val-d’Or Foreurs. After Victoriaville, Sherbrooke, Lewiston, Acadie-Bathurst and Cape Breton, the Sherbrooke native signed to Val-d’Or during season 2012-2013. The year after, he led the team to the President Cup, the third in the concession history. It was his second, since he had won it with Victoriaville, in 2002. Durocher has also won two silver medals with Team Canada in the World’s junior championship, the first time in 2002 as an assistant coach, then in 2003 as the head coach.
Canes and Coffee: How would you briefly describe Julien Gauthier’s style of play?
Val-d’Or Foreurs coach Mario Durocher: He is a power forward with offensive skills who can score.
Canes and Coffee: What are Gauthier’s greatest strengths as a young player that he can build upon to become and NHL player?
Val-d’Or Foreurs coach Mario Durocher: Off ice training always be a big thing in his life. He’s strong. He needs to use that in his hockey game using even more his strength in every aspect of his game.
Canes and Coffee: If he returns to the Foreurs after the NHL training camp, what areas of focus/ongoing improvement do you see for Julien Gauthier in the 2016-17 season and over the next couple years as he continues to improve and work toward becoming an NHL player?
Val-d’Or Foreurs coach Mario Durocher: He will need to improve his defensive game (b/o-puck out, tracking back with purpose, block shot and stop / start in DZ coverage), be consistent shift after shift and use more of his strength.
Canes and Coffee: To which NHL player(s) would you compare Gauthier?
Val-d’Or Foreurs coach Mario Durocher: Max Pacioretty.
Canes and Coffee: What is something about Julien Gauthier that might be overlooked and maybe not noted in draft profiles and scouting reports?
Val-d’Or Foreurs coach Mario Durocher: He’s a gym maniac.
Interview on Julien Gauthier with Scott Wheeler from Future Considerations and SB Nation’s Pension Plan Puppets
Scott Wheeler (Twitter=scottcwheeler) is a sports journalist and independent scout who currently works as a feature writer and OHL/QMJHL evaluator with Future Considerations. He has previously scouted for McKeen’s Hockey, and has been published by the National Post, the Toronto Sun, The Hockey News, the PGA TOUR, and others in print and online. He also currently serves as the managing editor for SB Nation’s Pension Plan Puppets, where he covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Marlies and the NHL Draft and frequently guests on Canadian sports radio.
Canes and Coffee: Before the 2015-16 season started, Julien Gauthier was projected by many to be a top 10 pick in the 2016 NHL draft. He ultimately fell to the Hurricanes at #21. What, in your opinion, caused his stock to drop? Do you feel that it was justified?
Scott Wheeler from Future Considerations and Pension Plan Puppets: I think there were a few things that led to a slight dip in sentiment on Gauthier as the season progressed. His skating, physicality and shot are not a concern, but he lacks the vision of most high-end forwards and really struggled to get his teammates involved when he was one the ice. Val-D’OR was an extraordinarily gifted team, so for Gauthier to lack higher end production (he hovered around point per game) and to be out-performed by several teammates was disappointing for such a talented kid.
Canes and Coffee: What are the greatest strengths of Julien Gauthier’s game that give him the potential to be a top half of the roster NHL player?
Scott Wheeler from Future Considerations and Pension Plan Puppets: Above all else, Gauthier’s build helps separate him from a lot of young players. Most players of his size and weight at his age aren’t as athletic as he is and struggle to move around the ice but Gauthier’s skating isn’t a concern. Obviously, he also has an elite shot and top-end forwards in today’s NHL need to be able to beat goalies cleanly with their release — which he can.
Canes and Coffee: What are the greatest limitations/areas for improvement in Julien Gauthier’s game that must be developed for him to become a top half of the roster NHL player?
Scott Wheeler from Future Considerations and Pension Plan Puppets: The biggest thing Gauthier needs to learn to do is to spread the puck around more. Too often, Gauthier will receive the puck through the neutral zone or in the offensive zone and immediately pivot to take it to the net or get a shot off. Eventually, teams learn to defend against him, and step up into him when he receives the puck to force a man-on-man play. If he can better learn to lift his head and survey the ice he’ll put himself in better positions to get the puck back in space to get his shot off. There’s value in the give-and-go play.
Canes and Coffee: Which current NHL player(s) would you compare Julien Gauthier to and why? Who do you think he should model his game after as he continues to develop?
Scott Wheeler from Future Considerations and Pension Plan Puppets: I’m not a huge fan of comparables, mostly because each player is so incredibly dynamic and it puts teenagers into a box where they’re expected to be great (comparables are nearly always too lofty, not everyone can be a top-line player) but you’ll see names like Kyle Okposo, Rick Nash, and Jeff Carter tossed around when discussing Gauthier. His net drive reminds me a bit of Corey Perry, but his game isn’t as well-rounded as Perry’s was at the same age.
Canes and Coffee: Are there any other notes or comments on Gauthier’s development that you would like to share which are not addressed in the questions above?
Scott Wheeler from Future Considerations and Pension Plan Puppets: I think with Gauthier, you’ve got a player who is going to likely need to be surrounded by certain types of players and in the right usage if he’s going to succeed. He won’t be the catalyst on a line at the next level and is going to need someone who is crafty with the puck to find him if he’s going to be truly successful in a secondary scoring role.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a big thank you to Val-d’Or Foreurs coach Mario Durocher, Val-d’Or Foreurs media relations and Scott Wheeler from Future Considerations and Pension Plan Puppets for their generous help providing coverage for Hurricanes prospect Julien Gauthier.