The son of a 2004 Calgary Flames’ alumnus could be a 2023 first-rounder
Photo credit:incent Lévesque-Rousseau / Sherbrooke Phœnix
By Ryan Pike3 months ago
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Way back in 1995, the Calgary Flames selected Denis Gauthier in the first round of the NHL Draft. 28 years later, his son, Ethan, is available for selection in the 2023 NHL Draft. Rather than a physical stay-at-home defender like his dad, Ethan is a physical power forward.
Could the Flames try to make Ethan a second-generation Flame?
Gauthier is a January 2005 birthday, born during the 2004-05 NHL lockout. He was born in Phoenix but grew up in Quebec. He’s listed at 5’11”, 176 pounds, and he’s a right shot winger.
Gauthier came up through minor hockey in the Drummondville area, making the jump to the QMJHL in 2021-22 at the age of 16. (He turned 17 midway through the season). Blessed with some unique bloodlines – his dad played in the NHL and cousin Julien does also, but much of his extended family were part of the Rougeau pro wrestling family – Gauthier has been a productive player for two seasons in the QMJHL with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. He was traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs at the 2023 QMJHL Draft.
Hadi Kalakeche at Dobber Prospects broke down Gauthier’s game like so:
For an average-sized winger, Gauthier’s physicality really stands out. He is both adept at and unafraid of throwing his weight around on the forecheck, while also displaying an impressive ability to stay in the play rather than chase hits. Most of his shots occur in the slot, which he manages by timing his offensive movement to perfection. A push-off here, a curl-up-and-funnel-down play there, and Gauthier has his stick up between the dots, ready to one-time it at a moment’s notice. He displays intelligence in almost every offensive scenario, but his puck skills being average or slightly above-average across the board, as well as his lack of defensive consistency, make him more of a late first-rounder. In Gauthier, you’re getting a player with all the physical tools and mental habits to become an NHLer, but who lacks true star power. An ideal pick for a contender with its fair share of stars already.
Over at Smaht Scouting, Josh Tessler provided this scouting report. (Note: Smaht didn’t have Gauthier as a first-rounder in their rankings.):
Ethan Gauthier is coming off of his second season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix and averaged roughly a point per game. Gauthier projects to be a bottom six forward at the next level and will be called upon to provide grit / physicality in order to cause puck disruption. But, I do want to note that his physicality has been far more prominent on the forecheck than on the backcheck. While he does project to be more a grit / physical forward than a game changer, he will be able to rack up points by using his frame to fight for open passing lanes at net-front and by using his physicality to steal control of the puck on the forecheck and quickly distributing the puck.
How highly folks seem to rank Gauthier in this draft class likely varies depending on where they see his developmental ceiling landing. He plays with pace and physicality, but he’s not a massive dude (yet) and seems to project as more of a complimentary player rather than a play-driver.
Gauthier had 30 goals and 39 assists for 69 points over 66 games, scoring at just over a point-per-game pace in the QMJHL’s regular season. He was 30th in the league for points, 3rd among under-18 players. He was tied for 27th in goals in the league, tied for second among under-18 players. He also had 11 points in 11 playoff games. Compared to either his age group or the entire league, he matched up really well offensively.
He also represented Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He had seven points in five games en route to a gold medal win for Canada. Gauthier led the entire tournament with six goals.
Availability and fit
Here’s the thing with Gauthier: if he was a bit more of a play-driver, he’d be perfect for the Flames. He’s a physical right shot winger who can score goals. But the Flames need centres and blueliners more than they need complimentary wingers, even though Gauthier’s family tree contains a lot of knowledge about how to adjust to the pro game effectively.
Perhaps because of his complimentary game, Gauthier is a potential first-rounder based on the various public rankings.. but he’s not a lot. He’s outside the first round for McKeen’s and Corey Pronman. He’s a late first-rounder on many others: 29th for FC Hockey, 28th for Sportsnet, 25th for Daily Faceoff and 30th for Scott Wheeler. Based on the crop of players likely available when the Flames select, the younger Gauthier would be a bit of a reach at 16th overall.
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