Out of that spot, there was some talk and hope that they might be able to select left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. If the draft were held in January, Dubois might have slipped down to ninth after Central Scouting had him listed sixth among North American skaters. But in their final report this month, Dubois has been listed as the number one skater among those playing on this side of the ocean.
Dubois won’t go first overall though. That spot is reserved for Phoenix-born Auston Matthews, who is number one on the European list because he played last season in Switzerland. Also there also those two Finns on the European list who are also expected to go in the top five, but odds are very good that Dubois will be long-gone by the time the Canadiens turn comes up.
So what does that leave? It really is a fool’s game to try to predict what how the draft pieces fall between the first pick and ninth when the Canadiens choose, but I think you’re going to hear the name of Val d’Or Foreurs forward Julien Gauthier a lot between now and late June.
Gauthier is one of those players who can fill all of the current Canadiens. He’s big – 6’4” and 225 lbs. He is a right winger and the Canadiens depth at right wing is woeful. He’s a power forward and natural goalscorer coming off the wing. He uses his size well at both end of the ice. And he’s a local kid from Pointe-aux-Trembles. His father and grandfather were both body builders who won Mr. Canada honours. Former Flames defenseman Denis Gauthier is his uncle.
If you want a talent comparison, most scouts bring up the name of Rick Nash or Ryan Getzlaf which is very good company to keep.
Gauthier finished the regular season with 41 goals and 16 assists in 54 games with a plus-24 rating. Gauthier was ranked 4th in Central Scouting’s January North American rankings but slipped to 12th by the end of the season thanks to a late season slump that saw him score only twice in his final 11 regular season games and only twice in Val D’Or’s six playoff games. Whether he slipped in the eyes of Trevor Timmins and the Canadiens scouting staff remains to be seen. And, of course there may be a team or two that don’t agree with Central Scouting, which is not a rare occurance, and think enough of him to draft Gauthier ahead of ninth. That’s the way it goes at the draft.
(Video Highlights of Gauthier’s 2015-2016 season below)
The Canadiens have seven choices in this year’s draft and their choice will come up ninth in each of the remaining six rounds. They have their own choice (39th overall) in the second round as well as Minnesota’s 43rd overall pick via Buffalo (Josh Gorges trade). The also have their own choices in the 3rd and 4th rounds (69th & 99th). They have Vancouver’s choice (123rd) in the 5th round (Zack Kassian) and their own choice in the 6th round. Their own 5th and 7th round choice were traded to Buffalo (5th rounder in the Brian Flynn deal and their 7th for Torrey Mitchell)
Highlights of Gauthier’s 2015-2016 Season