The QMJHL didn’t nurture the top class of the 2023 NHL Draft like the WHL and OHL did among the major junior leagues. But at least one export from The ‘Q’ could end up having a significant impact in the NHL. Fiery forward Ethan Gauthier has the makings of a player who could save his best hockey for the deep waters of the Stanley Cup Playoffs later. The Tampa Bay Lightning grabbed him in the second round with the No. 37 overall draft pick at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Thursday.
Gauthier, 18, is relatively modestly built at 5-foot-11 and 176 pounds, but that’s deceiving. He plays with a ferocity that makes him more of a power forward than a finesse winger. The growl is in his genes; his father is former NHL defenseman Denis Gauthier. Ethan isn’t the big hitter his dad was, but he brings physicality to his game while adding a scoring touch that made him a 30-goal scorer with Sherbrooke this season. He doesn’t have a remarkably elite shot or hand game, but his drive is nearly unmatched among 2023 prospects. He never stops wiggling his legs and chasing pucks.
Gauthier has the type of work ethic that should endear him to his new coaching staff and give him a chance to play in the NHL sooner than some more skilled prospects because he’ll be serviceable in the last six, not just the first six. His skating and two-way game create a high floor.
STEVEN ELLIS SCOUTING REPORT
“One of my favorite players from a style point of view, Gauthier is fierce, aggressive and never stops moving. He’s seen his offensive output jump 30 points to a handsome 69 this year, establishing himself as a solid scorer. His power forward style suits him well in a mid-range role.