The Toronto Maple Leafs needed some happy news to numb the pain of their Game 7 collapse against the Boston Bruins, and that news comes in the form of rookie first-rounder Frederik Gauthier. The 18-year-old center went 21st overall to the Maple Leafs in the 2013 NHL Draft, and at some point down the road, should provide Toronto a center who remains committed to supporting his defense.
“I’ve never seen a kid get back and play defence like he does in 20 years,” Chris Bordeleau of NHL Central Scouting said. “In his own end, he’s always around the puck. A kid that can play defence like he does at his age, with that kind of maturity, is very rare.”
The Montreal Canadiens were rumored to have great interest in Gauthier, but Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis snatched him shortly before the Canadiens were set to draft. Apparently, though, this selection just came down to picking the top skater on Toronto’s board.
“If the best player available’s a centre, then we’ll take him. If the best player available’s another defenceman, then we’ll stockpile another one,” Nonis said. “The odds of us picking a centre are greater because of the fact that there are more quality centres available this year that will probably go in the first round. Just the sheer numbers alone make it, I think, a much greater possibility.”
Gauthier currently plays for Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and ranked eighth on Central Scout’s ranking of North American skaters heading into the 2013 draft.