Toronto Maple Leafs: Make an Offer for Erik Karlsson by John Krpan

Gauthier, a Laval, Quebec native was selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Dave Nonis was the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time and he knew that he wanted a physical centre.

Last season, Gauthier split his time between the Toronto Marlies and the Toronto Maple Leafs. During his stay with the Marlies, he posted 6 goals, 12 assists and an 11.8 SH% in 56 games played.

In early January, Lou Lamoriello, former general manager decided to call up Gauthier. Mike Babcock featured Gauthier in 9 games and had him play fourth line minutes.  Gauthier’s nine game stint with the Maple Leafs was rocky. He posted 1 goal, no assists, a 8.3 SH%, 38.2 corsi-for percentage, 8:45 ATOI, 12 hits, 5 blocks and 3 takeaways.

At that point in the season, Babcock and Lamoriello were trying to identify their fourth line centre. They mostly used Dominic Moore in that slot, but clearly weren’t in love with Moore’s production. So, they tried Gauthier.

Unfortunately, the result wasn’t as they hoped. It was trial and error. The Maple Leafs became a better team after experimenting as they knew that they had to fill the void with someone outside the organization. This led to the acquisition of Tomas Plekanec and his infamous collection of turtlenecks at the deadline.

After his stay with the Maple Leafs, Lamoriello chose to send him back down to the Marlies. He proved to be pivotal in the Marlies’ Calder Cup run. During the AHL playoffs, he registered 2 goals, 6 assists and 9.1 SH% in 20 playoff contests.

Evaluating The New Contract

Below, is the tweet from the Leafs PR Twitter Handle that announced that Gauthier would be staying with the organization.

Kyle Dubas, Gauthier and Gauthier’s representatives worked out a deal that keeps him in Toronto for the next two seasons. It’s a two-way contract which allows the Toronto Maple Leafs organization to send him to the Marlies and back up to the Maple Leafs without him being put on waivers.

Additionally, the contract comes with $675,000 USD AAV. That would be the salary that Gauthier would take home if he is playing at the NHL level. If he is sent down to the Marlies, he’d be earning a fraction of that.

In addition, it’s not a bad contract. League minimum for a guy who can be a very solid AHL player and a decent NHL fill-in when necessary, and who still has some upside.  Hard to complain about that.

With Matt Martin, Leo Komarov and Roman Polak off to other teams, it wouldn’t shock me if Babcock gives Gauthier another look as fourth line centre,  It’s become evident that Babcock loves physical hockey players. At the moment, Gauthier might be the most physical player that the Maple Leafs have in the system. If Gauthier isn’t the fourth line centre, he’ll be sent down to the Marlies for further development.

To be blunt, if Gauthier is playing on the fourth line for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it isn’t a big deal. That said, the Leafs will most likely acquire someone better between now and the start of the season.

The Maple Leafs have an outstanding group of centremen with Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Nazem Kadri. If they end up using Gauthier, it’s not the end of the world. And, who knows, he might improve and end up being a valuable member of the team.

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