Sunday, 22 May 2016

LHJMQ draft prospects Julien Gauthier and Pierre-Luc Dubois, Part 2.

Lots of talk on TSN 1040 Vancouver this morning on Pierre-Luc Dubois, as being reputedly the ‘best of the rest’ outside the Top 3, whether he’ll slide to the Canucks at #5, whether the Oilers have no choice but to pick a lesser-prospect defenceman and pass up on Pierre-Luc, whether another team will swoop in and scoop him up by trading for the Oilers’ #4, whether the Canucks should trade with the Oilers themselves, to ensure they get the prized LHJMQ player.

They had Marc-André Dumont on, the Screaming Eagles coach, and here's what he said:
He’s not sure if he’ll be a centre or winger in the NHL, that there are advantages to him playing either position, he’d be a good fit at either. He rates him as a better prospect than Claude Giroux, Evgeni Schevnikov, Anthony Mantha, all players he’s coached. He’s further along in his progress.

He is not however an elite skater. He’s greatly improved since he started playing junior, but has more room to improve, needs to improve for the NHL.

Physically, he put on 19 lbs lean mass from last year. He trained in Montréal with the Tampa Bay strength coach last summer, in a program to improve his speed, and got those kinds of result, put on muscle but didn’t add fat over the season. He has a ‘get out of my way and I’ll do it’ attitude. He’s ‘pro-ready’, not just due to the tale of the tape, there’s no doubt about his size and strength.

He played 90 games this season, won gold at Ivan Hlinka as Assistant Captain, Subway Series, WJC training camp. He tailed off a little at the end, maybe ran out of gas in the playoffs, but he’s physically ready for NHL. He anticipates he’ll play in the NHL at 215 lbs. He has the type of body that he’ll last in the NHL, have a long career.

He would spend 20-25 minutes before and after practice working on faceoffs, he’s smart, reads opponent very well. Surprising to see for a guy who played winger all his life, how well he did at centre. Evgeni Schevnikov did the same thing last season.

On the powerplay, he can either play the half-wall and create, or play in front of the net and screen the goalie, work deflections, pick up rebounds.

No off-ice problems at all, the coach calls him a great kid. At 2300 hrs, after a Saturday night game that ended at 2115 hrs, as he was leaving the rink, he heard noise from the gym and looked in and saw Pierre-Luc having a post-game workout, instead of going to the bar and getting into trouble.

So again, despite that mock draft from the Hockey Writers recently that had him slipping to the Canadiens, I doubt ever more that we’ll have a crack at him by the time the #9 picks rolls around.

Merely to add to the discussion, since I only saw Julien Gauthier play a couple of times for Val d’Or and also at the WJC, but his 'late birthday' is certainly something which should be considered, that he was a more mature player this season generally playing against younger, less physically developed boys.  This fact is sometimes underestimated when a player has a dominant draft year, that he's essentially an 18-year-old being compared to other players who are closer to 17.

But this was also something used to knock Anthony Mantha, that he was a third-year junior compared to most other draftable prospects in his class who only had two junior seasons. and he answered his critics with the season he had subsequent to his being drafted.

Personally, I was very high earlier on Julien Gauthier, but understood why he started to slip as the season progressed, it reminded me of Lawson Crouse, another huge 17-year-old man-child who played on Team Canada at the WJC, didn’t quite impress, and started to sag in the rankings.

It’s kind of like all the early hype sets up expectations, and you start to look for warts, you look beyond all the good stuff. Dan Marino in his senior year at Pittsburgh, with nothing left to prove, started getting dissected like this, and NFL scouts looked past him, the guy who would have been the unquestioned #1 pick if he could have come out for the draft after his sophomore or junior season. Instead, they started to look for newer, shinier toys, and picked guys like Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien and Todd Blackledge ahead of him in the 1983 draft.

My latest impression of Julien Gauthier came from his appearance on L’Antichambre.
Julien Gauthier appeared on L’Antichambre tonight. He looks great, got a haircut and shaved off that wispy mustache, guess the Pat Brisson treatment is having its effect.

Very well-spoken, presents well. Damn it. He’ll probably rise in the draft due to his showing during Combine interviews.

I hate to admit it, and it reminds me of the phenomenon described in “Moneyball”, how scouts fall in love with athlete’s stature, fall in love with horseflesh, rather than production, but I can understand why a Vincent Lecavalier or Pierre Turgeon is so highly sought after, compared to maybe a Nail Yakupov. A tall, striking, handsome young prospect has an appeal, a magnetism that a Mike Ricci has trouble overcoming.

So yeah, when I saw Julien Gauthier during the season, with his mullety scraggly hair and backwards baseball hat, I had trouble believing he was a member of the famous Gauthier family, the matinée idol ‘lutteurs’ and ‘culturistes’. But on L’Antichambre, all cleaned up and wearing a $2000 suit, I had less trouble buying in.

Maybe we do move back a few slots from #9 to 12 or thereabouts, and pick the local guy. Who happens to be 6’4″ and who scores a bunch…

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