Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft Profile: RW Julien Gauthier

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Unfortunately, the 2015-16 season was cut short for the Vancouver Canucks, which means we have a long offseason ahead of us. Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the time to prepare next season’s roster, and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will certainly play an important part in that process.

Vancouver started off strong in the fall of 2015 but ended the season with a thud. Thanks to their abysmal 28th rank in the league standings, the Canucks own seven picks early in each round. Benning did a great job in his first two years at the job and another successful draft could certainly help boost the rebuild.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming event by profiling as many draft-eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

Under the microscope today: right winger Julien Gauthier from the QMJHL’s Val d’Or Foreurs.

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Name: Julien Gauthier

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

Height, weight: 6’4″, 225 lbs

Team/League: Val d’Or Foreurs/QMJHL

Stats (from 







NHL CSS Ranking: 12th (North American Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2/5, 4/5

NHL-potential: Top-Six forward

Draft Range: Mid-First Round 

Scouting report

"An explosive power forward who boasts an elite-level skill package. Takes nothing for granted and plays with hard-nosed work ethic. Tremendous vision and outstanding hockey sense; thrives under pressure and doesn’t stray from the high-percentage play. Willingness to play physical and win battles in his own end makes him a vital asset, stepping up at the game’s key moments. Exceptional skating ability allows him to stay with, if not ahead, of each unfolding play. Refined puckhandling skills allow him to maintain puck control at breakneck speeds. All-in-all, a prolific scorer whose attitude and innate abilities will constantly propel him into dominance. (Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects 2016)"


Julien Gauthier’s primary strength is, well, his strength. The son of a bodybuilder, Gauthier began weight training at the age of nine. Unlike many taller prospects, he is already well on his way to filling out his impressive 6-foot-4 frame, weighing in at an imposing 225 pounds at only 18 years old.

Gauthier’s size and style of play scream “power forward”. He takes the puck to the net with determination and surprising speed for his stature. Defenders can easily be intimated when Gauthier begins steaming towards them, and defenders who stay in the way may find themselves run over.

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Some players with these physical gifts may use them as an excuse to give less than a full effort — not so with Gauthier. Not only does he have size and speed, he has a determination to use them every single shift. The word “coast” does not appear to be in Julien Gauthier’s vocabulary.

That determination appears to be paying off: Gauthier has scored 79 goals in 122 game in his past two seasons with the Val d’Or Foreurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Some of these goals were scored with his excellent shot, others were simply “garbage” goals scored off rebounds left in front of the net.

Without the puck, Gauthier chases down opponents to deliver punishing checks. He skates in straight lines with or without the puck, and displays a fairly mature two-way game. He backchecks with intention, and is willing to sacrifice his body to block shots. His size makes him excellent in puck battles along the boards.

All told, Julien Gauthier is a physically mature power forward with a penchant for scoring goals. He shows a lot of self-discipline and does not allow himself to give an incomplete effort. Gauthier appears to be a true pro in the making.


Gauthier’s speed does not appear to be a hindrance, but his size can be a drawback in this area: he skates well in straight lines, but lacks the agility and lateral movement that many smaller skaters in this draft class have.

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Thus far in his career this weakness has not prevented him from being effective around the net, but this may be partly due to the fact that he is playing versus smaller defensemen whom he can easily intimidate or run over. When staring down NHL defensemen, Gauthier will find they do not blink so easily, and will need to be able to turn skate around much tougher defense in the big leagues in order to reach prime scoring areas.

As a player who prefers to take the puck to the net himself, Gauthier may miss passing opportunities, as his assist total shows. Is he an inexperienced passer, or does he simply forego giving the puck to his teammates in favour of calling his own number?

Perhaps both, but he will need to develop his passing ability, and his side-to-side quickness, if he wishes to unleash his true offensive potential at the NHL level.

Final Thoughts

Julien Gauthier appears to be just the sort of player that Jim Benning wants to bring to this Vancouver Canucks team — strong, physical, good on his feet and willing to compete in both ends of the rink.

Going into the year, he was one of the top-ranked power forwards, even ahead of No. 1 North American skater Pierre-Luc Dubois for some scouts. With the 2015-16 campaign in the books, scouts just don’t know what they are getting in Gauthier.

In his first two years in the QMJHL, he scored 46 goals and 56 assists. This season, however, Gauthier’s 41 goals greatly outnumber his assists (16). There is no doubt that Gauthier is a goal scorer more than a playmaker, but scouts don’t like when players score almost three times as many goals as they set up. On the bright side, he had two goals and three assists in six playoff games this year.

Next: More 2016 NHL Draft Profiles

The Vancouver Canucks’ draft position is the key factor. Gauthier appears to have too much upside to fall below the first round, yet is too risky to take over other players at the Canucks’ current position at pick no. 5.

Yet, if Benning decides he wants to trade down to the 15-to-20 range, Gauthier may prove a tempting option for the Vancouver Canucks.