Monday, January 24

Demons sign Frederik Gauthier after ex-Leaf vowed to change: ‘I have so much more to offer’

Last year was not the year of Frederik Gauthier. Those are his words. The forward is very self-conscious. So you took that and made some changes, and now you have the stability you crave for at least one more year. The Devils announced Friday that they had signed him to a one-year, two-way contract (salary of $ 800,000 at the NHL level, $ 175,000 at the AHL level) after he was with the club during training camp in a deal for professional test.

It’s an important step for the Laval, Que., Native who was shown the door around this time last year by the only NHL team he knew, the Maple Leafs.

“Honestly, it’s been a pretty strange year for me. [Leafs GM Kyle Dubas] He told me he was coming back and then all of a sudden I can’t find anything, nowhere to go. I finally get a PTO in Arizona [but] I didn’t get the opportunity I was hoping to get, “Gauthier said.

“It has been a difficult year.”

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According to Gauthier, Dubas called to tell the 2013 first-round club that the Leafs would not re-sign him, citing salary cap space, and wished him luck. But luck did not seem to be on Gauthier’s side. He signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Coyotes for the 2021 season, but he spent time on the taxi squad and most of the deal was one-way: on the AHL with Tuscon. He got into two games for the big club out of 18 games with the Roadrunners, for which he scored two goals and five assists. This was after 168 games over the course of five seasons with the Maple Leafs in which he scored 13 goals and 18 assists.

“It is an opportunity for him to put himself back in that situation where he can be a fourth-line center every day, who can give minutes from penalties, face-off, responsibility in zone D, maybe play center or wing in the last minute of the game.[…]He saw this as an opportunity to truly make our team and all I can do is offer an opportunity; they have to do the rest, “Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said on media day when training camp opened.

It seems that Gauthier did just that.

(Andrew Maclean / Devils of New Jersey)

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Speaking to Sporting News by phone, Gauthier said that while he will always have great friends and memories of his time in Toronto (he talks often to Zach Hyman, who is now in Edmonton), he believes he was “getting a little too comfortable” to be. there and cutting ties changed his perspective.

“I need to be more physical, use my body a lot more and things like this that maybe I wasn’t doing when I was in Toronto.” [and] that’s going to help me stay in the league. Be more physical. Be more consistent, “he said, noting that he’s dropped 20 to 30 pounds from his 6-5 frame because he thought he was playing too heavy a weight. When he was drafted in 2013, Gauthier was listed at 214 pounds in the NHL. com now lists it at 238 and according to a vlog posted by his coach Babak Owen on YouTube, it hit 245 at one point.

The process began even before he moved to the desert. He incorporated more cardio to burn more calories and reduce body fat to lose weight, with the mindset to regain his speed as well.

“I’m still strong on my feet and stuff, be more physical, it’s faster,” he said of his reasoning for losing weight. “Get to the puck faster … I won’t be behind the play, I’ll be there. My skating is going to be on point. Years gone by there were a lot, like, you’re not fast enough, not hitting was a Great thing and I think that by losing weight I could keep up more. “

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You will definitely be challenged to keep up because this Devils team is packed with young stars who have immense speed. Players like 2019 No.1 Jack Hughes and 2017 No.1 Nico Hischier (yes, both are centrals too, but there are plenty of other young, nimble speed demons in Jersey). But he will also be trusted to be a two-way guy, a defensive guy, something he did a lot in Toronto. His zone starts were 74.9 percent on his own side and he has a career 52.5 percent winning percentage in head-to-head point.

Gauthier, 26, is also determined not to use the AHL side of his contract.

“I’ll be honest with you, [playing in the AHL is] It’s not something that really interests me, “he said two weeks before signing his contract with New Jersey.” I played a few years in Toronto and I feel like I can play in the NHL. I have so much more to offer. “

“For me, he’s doing what he was doing in Toronto and more.” “If I do what I did there more consistently and [be] more physical and with my game of being lighter, faster and more physical, I think it can open some eyes. “

It’s fair to say that it did just that. Now, with the Devils set to begin their season at home on Oct. 15 against the Blackhawks, Gauthier will have the opportunity to do something else: make this “one of the last PTOs I’ve been involved in.”

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