The two leading the charge are defenseman Samuel Morin and center Frederik Gauthier. These players don’t share a position, but they both share imposing frames that are difficult to miss on the ice. Morin stands in the 6-foot-6 range while checking in at 205 pounds while Gauthier has been listed at a more “tepid” 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. While their size is a surety, having an NHL draft pick being handed to them isn’t.
Both Morin and Gauthier came into the season as highly regarded prospects, but both have been left off the Team QMJHL Roster for the Subway Super Series, which may not come as a huge surprise. Morin, projected to be a potential Top 60 player, has yet to score a goal in his QMJHL career but that’s not scaring off teams. The mammoth defenseman is one of the league’s toughest customers and plays with a level of grit and tenacity that is matched by few. At only 17, Morin is very polished defensively and utilizes his frame much to his advantage.
Often compared to Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara due to the size parallels, Morin is difficult to beat down low and brings a presence to the ice that really makes an impact on opposing forwards. That’s not to say the 17-year-old is going to step into the NHL next year. Morin still has a lot of room for improvement with his skating and at this point, he may not even be done growing. Having already sprouted up 2 inches during his rookie season last year, Morin projects as more of a long-term project, perfect for a team after the 1st round who can afford to be patient with what is sure to be a long development curve.
He may look small next to Morin, but Frederik Gauthier is no slouch. Playing in his first QMJHL season, Gauthier not only leads QMJHL rookies in scoring, but also sits atop his team scoring race. After strongly considering the NCAA route, Gauthier stayed home to play Midget AAA last year before eventually electing to pursue a career through the QMJHL. It appears that the extra year of Midget has had some positive effects as Gauthier carried his team to a berth in the Telus Cup last year while developing into a polished two-way center.
To sound cliche, the sky may be the limit for Gauthier. While there’s still a lot of room for growth and development, Gauthier skates very well and obviously has the type of size that NHL teams will salivate over. The left-shot center plays well with linemates and has quickly developed natural chemistry with Peter Trainor and Scott Oke this season. There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played this year, but it’s become quite clear that Gauthier is a player who is flying under the radar. At this point, the 1st round certainly wouldn’t be out of the question if he can continue to produce at his current clip while showing all-around improvement.