With the 2021 season now just around the corner, hockey news is coming thick and fast as the Arizona Coyotes are reportedly offering a PTO to free agent Frederik Gauthier.
The Coyotes are looking to build a competitive roster with younger pieces ahead of the new season, and have already brought the likes of Johan Larsson, Tyler Pitlick, and Drake Caggiula into the fold.
One position that the team is still looking to bolster, however, is at center, with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman commenting on Twitter that former Toronto Maple Leaf Frederik Gauthier is weighing up a PTO offer from the Coyotes.
The 25-year-old Laval, Quebec native was the 21st overall pick of the Leafs in the 2013 Draft and has made 168 regular-season appearances in the NHL, with the majority of those coming over the past two seasons.
Gauthier played a role in the Toronto Marlies’ Calder Cup championship victory during the 2017/18 season, but since stepping up to the NHL he has been limited to a fourth-line spot almost exclusively - averaging just 9:09 while on the ice across his short career.
The 6-foot-5, 236lbs center does not offer much offensively, though he did chip in with seven goals in 61 games last season, but he is exceptionally reliable in the face-off circle.
When lining up for draws, almost all of which come in his own end thanks to his career average of 70.8% starts in the defensive zone, Gauthier has a 52.7% success rate - with that figure sitting at 53.7% and 54.7% in each of the past two campaigns.
Gauthier is also a fairly disciplined player, having taken a combined 22 penalty minutes across the past two seasons, where he played 131 times for the Canadian team.
The biggest knocks on Gauthier have been his skating ability, which is average at best, as well as his surprising lack of physicality despite his enormous frame.
He has thrown more than one hit per game on average over the past two seasons, but with his limited tools, the Leafs would have liked this to have been a more prominent part of his game.
The Coyotes are keen on adding more centers to their line-up but will need to assess whether or not Gauthier fits into what head coach Rick Tocchet is aiming to do during his contract year - with physicality something the team needs more of in 2021.
Having a reliable defensive zone face-off specialist could be enough for Gauthier to earn a contract with the Arizona Coyotes, but until that time, the team will need to see if he is willing to accept the PTO and prove himself once camp opens on January 3rd.