What did the Rangers get in Julien Gauthier?

Disclaimer: I’m not a scout. I’m going off highlights I’ve Googled and what other people have said about him. 

Julien Gauthier, who will likely make his Rangers debut tonight, was a surprise acquisition yesterday as the Rangers swapped Joey Keane for him with the Carolina Hurricanes. First billed as a prospect trade, it’s clear this isn’t necessarily about prospects, as Gauthier appears to be NHL ready. While that’s great, there’s always more to unpack.

Gauthier is a big boy at 6’4″ and 227 lbs, which will certainly make the old school folks very happy. For comparison’s sake, Chris Kreider is 6’3″ and 217 lbs. Since his draft year in 2019 (taken 21st overall), Gauthier has shown improvement across the board. He is in his third pro season. increasing his AHL stat line in each year. This season he has a line of 22-11-23 in 44 games, which puts him on an 82-game pace to beat his numbers last year (27-14-41). He has played five NHL games, notching an assist.

Gauthier isn’t just another big body, he has great breakaway speed, as seen by this highlight that made the rounds yesterday.

His stride is very smooth, and it almost looked effortless for him to get to top speed on that break. He also protected the puck from the back checker and used that to cross to the backhand, something that looked easy but was certainly not. Most players shoot off the forehand there. The kid has good hands.

From Elite Prospects, Gauthier has drawn comparisons to Rick Nash. With an “elite-level skill package,” “tremendous vision,” and “outstanding hockey sense.”

Part of that package is what we see here. That initial outlet pass to start the rush with Nicolas Roy was not an easy pass to make. But watch Gauthier’s path to the net. He recognized that Roy was drawing three guys to him, so he put himself in a position to receive the pass and he had an easy goal.

This is preseason, but it’s at the NHL level from this year. Gauthier is not afraid to use his size to get in on the forecheck and wreak havoc. It does take a specific skill set to get in deep that quickly and force the turnover, and not many players have it. If he’s reminding you of Kreider in this regard, then you’re correct.

From Dobber Prospects, Gauthier’s NHL certainty is an 8.5 (about 85%). They also rate his “Fantasy Upside” as a 7.0, which based on their scale means he could possibly peak at 70 points. I think that’s a tall order for a 22 year old and sets unrealistic expectations, but he certainly has the skill set to hit that if in the right situation and his continued development goes as planned. Not all players hit that ceiling.

What will help him hit that ceiling is his net-front presence. Naturally he’s difficult to move off a screen, he’s big and –more importantly– strong. He’s more than wiling to get to the front of the net and put a stick on the puck while there too. He also has a very dangerous shot.

That shot he puts top corner while off balance (12-13 seconds into the video) is a thing of beauty. The video also has multiple goals against Igor Shesterkin, which bodes well for his goal scoring ability at the NHL level.

Willingness to get to high-percentage areas, a lethal shot, hockey IQ, and breakaway speed are four major traits that lead to future NHL success. It’s going to be a bumpy road. He’s going to make mistakes. But Gauthier looks like he is the real deal and will help solidify the middle-six in the future.

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    • I would agree, it’s a little crazy. He sounds like the type of north-south player Quinn is always going on about.

  • If this kid lives up to the hype, we have a winner here!!!!!!!
    The cost was very reasonable for the return………….

  • We have plenty of defensemen in the pipeline, but the cupboard is pretty empty of forwards (besides Barron and maybe Pajuniemi), so we traded a promising young D-man for a big, fast, forward with potential. Works for me.

  • According to Scott Wheeler (The Athletic), Gauthier is the #3 ranked prospect in the NYR’s system behind Lundkvist and Kravstov and ahead of #4 K’Andre Miller. Keane had been his #5 ranked prospect.

  • I like this acquisition. I liked Keane as well, but it was hard to see an NHL path for him at the moment. Gauthier may not quite be a can’t miss prospect (as much as there is such a thing anyway), but with potentially three or even four Ranger forwards on the trading block right now, it certainly doesn’t hurt to add legitimately projectable skill to an already thin NHL-trajectory forwards pool.

  • The trade appears to be a win win.

    There has been lots of talk all season about our lack of forward depth thru out the organization.

    Lets try ADA at wing. He’s an elite passer, has a good shot, can skate and is used to mixing up on the boards. Imagine what he could generate if he had less defensive responsibility and more of an offensive green light.

    I’ve posted this idea before and with the exception of Walt who likes the idea, there has been no feedback

    Would really love to hear from the experts

    • Art

      Again, I’m in your corner with this thought. Why not try, we are so deep on defense, this can’t hurt. I remember during the play-offs in the early 70’s when the Cat used Rod Seiling at the forward position on occasion to boost the offense, and it worked, so this may as well!!!!!

  • It’s obvious Keane had no future here so turning him into a big, good skating, shoot first, goal scoring forward is a big win

    Nothing else to say.

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