Booming with young skill, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ offence has been one of the league’s best with an average of just over three goals a game. Arguably Toronto’s most dangerous forward has been rookie Mitch Marner, who until being injured versus the Columbus Blue Jackets last Wednesday after falling awkwardly into the boards was second in team scoring with 48 points (15 goals, 33 assists).
In conjunction with the Marner injury and subsequently being put on the injured reserve list, big centre Frederik Gauthier, was recalled from the AHL Marlies.
With all the flash and dazzle on display every night down at the ACC with the likes of fellow freshmen – Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Marner and to a lesser extent Connor Brown, Nikita Soshnikov, and Zach Hyman, it’s easy to see why a player like Gauthier continues to get overlooked.
Simply put he was supposed to be the forgotten man amongst the plethora of young forwards the Leafs have used on any given night this season, and yet has offered a perfect balance to the skill and finesse continually shown by Toronto’s top nine forwards.
Selected No 26 overall by the Maple Leafs in the 2013 Entry Draft, the “Goat” as he’s been nicknamed by local media and teammates alike, has looked anything but out of place in his 20 games this season where he has scored twice and added an assist. And although the plus/minus stat is no longer used the way it once was since the arrival of new flashier statistics like the Fenwick and Corsi ratings, Gauthier is still a plus-2. His 23 penalty minutes is proof that he is willing to engage opponents, but more importantly his faceoff wins percentage of 50.45 puts him second behind Tyler Bozak at 56% and ahead of Nazem Kadri (46.57%) and Matthews (46.02%). Size, meanness, and above average skill in the faceoff circle, Freddy Gauthier has all the qualities expected in most teams’ fourth line players.
In addition to performing impressively when called upon, the 6-foot-five, 235lbs, centerman seems to fit seamlessly into the Maple Leafs fourth line with line mates Matt Martin and Soshnikov.
The Laval, Quebec native started his journey to the NHL when he graduated from the Collège Esther-Blondin Phénix of the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League (QMAAA) to the Rimouski Océanic in 2012. He was the Océanic’s third-round, 40th overall pick in that year’s QMJHL draft and spent three seasons with them winning the QMJHL championship in 2014-15.
He closed out his major junior career in the spring of 2015 and moved up to the minor pros the following season. A first-round pick questioned by many at the time, Gauthier started his rookie year with the AHL’s Marlies where in 56 games he scored six times and added 18 points, before being called up to the big club for a seven game audition. It was in the AHL where he got to work remodeling himself from a focal point in junior to a bottom six centerman more suited to an NHL promotion.
There’s no telling what’s to come of Toronto’s “other” rookie, but one thing is for certain… Freddy “the Goat” Gauthier may not end up being one of the Leafs’ “Greatest Of All Time”, but rarely has he been seen in a game wearing the “goat horns”.