Julien Gauthier can be a factor for the New York Rangers

Julien Gauthier has only played 12 games for the New York Rangers, but he could be tan intangible piece of the puzzle. The 6-4″, 230 lbs winger could help the Blueshirts succeed in the upcoming 2020-2021 season.

Julien Gauthier is a nice blend of size and speed

The Rangers were looking for a hard nosed, speedy player as the trade deadline drew closer to its end last season. The team was playing great hockey as February was ending and made a surprising push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Dealing from surplus, General Manager Jeff Gorton traded defenseman Joey Keane to the Carolina Hurricanes for Gauthier. At the time, he had only five NHL games of experience but a load of promise.

Julien Gauthier AHL Career Player

Gauthier was a first-round draft pick (21st overall) of the Hurricanes in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He was unable to crack the ‘Canes lineup in each of the three years he was with the organization. That was due to the Canes amazing depth on the wings.

Per TheAthletic.com, Gauthier played 64:24 of preseason five-on-five TOI via (NaturalStatTrick.com,) he took 12 shots, had a primary assist, nine high danger chances, six hits, and three blocked shots. The 23-year-old made it hard for head coach Rod Brind’Amour to send him back to the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes AHL affiliate club.

“I wanted to give him every opportunity, every chance,” he said. “Put him on power plays, put him on top lines with top players, and see what could happen. I liked what I saw. Let’s put it this way — from what I saw last year, he made the biggest strides of any player coming in this year. He’s put himself in the mix to be that next guy up, potentially. Just gotta keep working,” Brind’Amour told The Athletic’s Sara Civian.

Gauthier did his time again in Charlotte and continued to improve his game scoring 26 goals in 44 games before the trade to New York.

Related: Kaapo Kakko ready to have a good year for Rangers.

Gauthier’s Broadway opportunity

Julien Gauthier (Getty Images)

Following his trade to the Rangers, Gauthier reported to the Rangers, not to the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack. The Blueshirts were going to give him a chance to play in the NHL.

He averaged just 8:17 of ice per game, but he gained the confidence of head coach David Quinn. Gauthier acknowledged that confidence speaking to Newsday’s Colin Stephenson last March,

“I can feel he likes me, and that’s important,’’ said Gauthier, who was back on the fourth line at the start Tuesday night. “I think he’s a great guy, he’s a good coach. He’s given me opportunities and I appreciate that. I’m really grateful. Of course, I haven’t been here for a long time, but the more I talk to him, the better it gets. And he’s really there to show me what I can do to improve.’’

Gauthier is a David Quinn type player

Hustle and hockey awareness are two major factors that Quinn judges players on throughout a season. It was a very small sample, but Gauthier seems to be a player Quinn will be able to lean and rely on in tight games.

It comes at the right time with the Rangers losing veteran forward Jesper Fast who signed with the Carolina Hurricanes as a unrestricted free agent last month. However, as one door closes another opens and Gauthier now has the opportunity to become a full time NHL player under the lights on Broadway.

He will need to improve on the defensive side of the ice, a prerequisite for any player to succeed in Quinn’s system. He has the skill and talent to play on any line combination and based on his short stint so far, the opportunity will be offered to truly show he belongs in Rangerstown.

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