The Rangers and Julien Gauthier reached a contract agreement yesterday on a one year deal at $800,000. The deal is less than his qualifying offer, and came less than 24 hours after Arthur Staple noted that he requested a trade. The contract may come as a surprise to some, but it is actually a shrewd move on Gauthier’s part. As per usual, I have some thoughts.
1. On the contract itself, this isn’t anything to lose sleep over. Even if Gauthier remains with the Rangers, this isn’t a contract that hinders the Rangers. He’d be a 13/14F for the Blueshirts, which makes this contract at barely league minimum an easy one to absorb. Gauthier is still useful on the ice, as he drives play. His issue is he can’t finish. But there is still use for a player with his size, speed, and ability to drive the net, even if he has no scoring touch whatsoever.
2. But this isn’t about Gauthier still being with the Rangers. It’s about what the Rangers are able to do with him under contract. It’s much easier for a team to trade a player when he is under contract as opposed to a free agent, unrestricted or restricted. There’s cost certainty to it, and teams love to know what they are getting into when they trade for a player.
3. By signing when he did, Gauthier opens himself up to being traded at the draft, which is the most likely scenario. Gauthier on his own doesn’t have too much trade value, but the Rangers should be able to recoup a draft pick. He may have some value as a sweetener in a bigger trade, but it’s more likely the Rangers recoup a draft pick out of him, much like with Alex Georgiev.
4. Not many thoughts on the contract, since it’s rather inconsequential. Gauthier would be a good 14F on the Rangers, a guy that would get 20-30 games depending on injuries and matchups. If he ever develops a scoring touch or turns into a net front presence like Chris Kreider, then he’s going to be fine. But he’s not a kid anymore. He will be 25 this season, so you wonder how much more development there is. He’s a known entity. The Rangers know this. The league knows this. That’s why, while his value may be minimal, he’s easier to trade at the draft with a contract.