The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Ethan Gauthier with the 37th overall selection of the 2023 NHL Draft. The Lightning moved into the second round after trading Ross Colton to the Colorado Avalanche the previous day.
Gauthier, a 6-foot, 183-pound right wing forward played with the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the QMJHL last season. He scored 30 goals and 69 points in 66 games. His style of hockey can be compared to the type of hardworking middle-six forward that the Lightning have often coveted, and paid large sums for, before the trade deadline in recent seasons. Some even believe that he could eventually develop into a top-six forward in the NHL as he combines compete level with skill.
"He acts as the link between his teammates’ plays. He one-touchesthe puck to them in transition and helps move the puck from lane tolane to break in the offensive zone. And there, he keeps the puck incontrol of his team and improves the dangerousness of the offenceby winning board battles, passing through and around defenders,and by rushing the net to tip shots and get his stick on rebounds.— Elite Prospects"
Rated as the 16th best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, and No. 29 on Elite Prospects’ consolidated ranking, it appears the Lightning are beneficiaries of the rest of the league allowing Gauthier to fall into the second round.
Rather than having to send a first-round pick, plus more, in the future for someone like Blake Coleman or Brandon Hagel, developing Gauthier in-house to play that role would be a huge boon and cost-saving for the team.
Gauthier will slot in near the top end of the Lightning’s shallow prospect pool. He will likely still need 2-3 seasons of development to join the team at the earliest, but overall, I feel like this was a very safe pick for the Lightning as Gauthier skills project well to translate to the next levels of hockey.
Next season, Gauthier will return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.