Julien Gauthier, a name you may have never heard before, but may certainly hear again. Born in Pointe-aux-Trembles, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, one could say Gauthiers’ career would certainly be grand, regardless of which path he took in life. One of Gauthiers’ most amazing assets is his size. Standing at 6’4” 227lbs, its no mystery how Gauthier accomplished this powerful build as an offenseman. At the age of 9, he started working out with his father in their homemade gym in their basement. His father, Martin Gauthier, was not just a role model to Julien, but to aspiring athletes in general. Particularly, those who are bodybuilders. Martin Gauthier, as well as Martin’s father, were both named Mr. Canada during their glory days of bodybuilding. A prestigious award given to the best bodybuilder in Canada.
However, Julien did not want to head down the road flexing and fasting. Instead, Julien wanted the head down the road of fastness, and physicality. By blending his dad’s teachings about weight lifting and strength, and combining those tips in a hockey-style routine, his years of hard work finally paid off when he was drafted 21st overall in 2016. When asked about his towering build, he answers quite humbly. Telling many reporters that it was never about being a bodybuilder, or looking good with his shirt off. It was always a lot more than that. Learning discipline at a very young age was something he said was essential in his success. Dedicated to bettering his performance on the ice, he also emphasizes that eating is just as important as lifting.
Mindful of his calories, and workouts, his hundreds of hours in the weight room have certainly paid off physically, but what about on the score sheet?
Where To Improve
As a young powerful forward becomes acclimated in the NHL, time is certainly on his side. At 22 years old, he has plenty of time to blossom into a commanding winger. Although, there are some factors that could prolong Gauthiers’ chance at a solidified roster spot. If like Vitali Krastov, and expectedly, Alexis Lafreniere make the roster full time, this will most definitely put Gauthier’s future in jeopardy. There’s only one way for Gauthier to land a definite role on the Rangers, and that’s to perform on the score sheet. Gauthier played 12 games as a Ranger this past season after being picked up in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes back in February. He only registered 2 total points, both of which, were assists. Nevertheless, he has only played 17 games in the NHL, and low numbers like that should be relatively expected for a youngster.
As far as I am concerned, this should not be red flags for the New York Rangers, Nor Fans. Making the shift from the AHL to the pro’s can initially be difficult to do. Yet I don’t believe that will be the problem for Gauthier. For those who watch hockey very carefully, you will see the grit, determination, and potential Gauthier has. With amazing speed, dazzling hands, a gritty style of play, and a wicked shots, there’s not much in his game that is considerably lacking. He is certainly a sight to watch on the ice with his fast pace. Its also important to remember what a high draft pick he was. His dream came true when selected 21st overall in 2016. Not far behind iconic names like Matthew Tkachuk, Clayton Keller, and Charlie McAvoy, all of them who were also drafted in 2016.
You may be thinking to yourself, “where have I seen a 21st overall draft pick on the New York Rangers before?” Funny you ask, just a year later, Rangers young gun centerman, Filip Chytil, was also drafted the same rank as Gauthier. Could this foreshadow a future pairing together? There’s a very good chance it does. Both young players are very similar in their stickhandling, and shooting abilities. With Gauthier’s speed able to compliment Chytil’s vision, opportunities could come by the bunches if Gauthier can get open and continuously cash in.
Many have drawn comparisons between Gauthier and former Rangers player, Rick Nash. For Gauthier, Nash would be an amazing player to follow in his footsteps, and for good reason. Nash played a valuable role for the Rangers during their cup run in 2014 as well as in the Eastern Conference Finals, in 2015. In his best season in red, white, and blue, Nash recorded 42 goals and 27 assists in 79 games. With great scoring abilities and puck protection, Nash was glued to the puck at all times until it reached the back of the net. Both players clearly have the size, shot, speed, and more, so where can we look to see Gauthier have a leg up on Nash?
The Next level
While Nash is a great comparison, we have to still remember Gauthier has to perform, and do so for a very long time, until we can group them in the same category. So for Gauthier, the next question he should ask himself is how he can get to the next level. For Gauthier, the experience will go a long way. The more games he plays in the NHL, the more he will improve. However, there’s one problem. Training camp will soon be around the corner for Gauthier, and improvement will be necessary to get a roster spot. As far as I’m concerned, In a perfect world, the only extra element I think Gauthier needs, is the ability to play two-way hockey. A LETHAL ASSET.
Throughout the hockey world, there’s a secret way to get noticed which is sometimes overlooked, and that’s backchecking as hard as you forecheck. What this gives way to, is being able to play both offensively, as well as defensively. I look at Gauthier as an offensive rarity, who exploited his differences in size and build, thus making himself a commodity. By learning to play 2-way hockey, he will be utilizing the traditional intended purpose of an NHL player with a big build. I could see him become a valuable asset on the penalty kill as well. With talk about Jesper Fast being traded, Gauthier could fill his role on the PK, and possibly do much better. This could be the key factor if Gauthier wants to solidify his role on the Rangers.
Look at Mika Zibanejad for example. Once he finally accepted his offensive, and defensive role on the team, he started playing his best hockey. Which could very well be the fate of Julien Gauthier as well.
I’ve touched on his upbringing, size, speed, hands, shot, and role on the Rangers. Now, we wait. Gauthier has his job in his hands with the ability to create his own legacy. A legacy that goes against the generations of body buildings, and follows in the shoes of his uncle, Denis Gauthier. So much potential, bottled up in ever last muscle fiber Gauthier has spent years building. I am positive this kid belongs in the NHL, as well as having the potential to do very well in this league. To sum up Julien’s years of preparation; Following the crowd doesn’t get you anywhere in life. Being able to stand out is desirable, but comes with a price. Dedication, discipline, and desire, must all manifest itself to form something different. Something unique, appealing, and something, that screams, Julien Gauthier.