Prospect Update: Nathan Gaucher

Photo: Stevens LeBlanc

By Thomas Harrington

Anaheim’s second first round pick from the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, forward Nathan Gaucher, completed his fourth season in the QMJHL.

Gaucher has played for the Quebec Remparts during his entire QMJHL career and was an alternate captain for the past two seasons. He played in 44 games this past season and scored 22 goals and 46 points. That’s a bit of a drop off from his previous year, when he scored 31 goals and 57 points in 66 games. However, the important thing is that his points per game did improve, even though his overall point totals fell because he appeared in significantly fewer games. This was due to an injury that kept him out for about a month and a two-game suspension. He finished fifth on the team in goals and sixth in points. Gaucher won the Guy Carbonneau Trophy, given to the QMJHL’s top defensive forward.

Gaucher carried his strong play into the playoffs, where he scored seven goals and 16 points in 18 games, helping lead his team to the Gilles-Courteau Trophy as the QMJHL Champions and then to the Memorial Cup tournament. He scored two goals and three points in four games, helping them win the Memorial Cup.

Gaucher also played for Team Canada at the World Juniors, scoring a goal and four points in seven games. It was his second time playing for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Gaucher was primarily used on the team’s third line in a checking role. He also saw some time on the team’s second powerplay unit and was one of their top faceoff men, winning over 57% of his draws.

Despite being drafted in 2022, Gaucher has already played in the QMJHL for four seasons, meaning that he is eligible for the AHL this coming year. He will likely spend the year in the AHL and be one of a number of first year players for the Gulls. However, he does have an outside shot at making his NHL debut this year, especially with the news that Isac Lundestrom will miss the start of the season.

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With his first pro season ahead of him, I don’t want to set expectations for Gaucher too high. He can score, but I wouldn’t consider him an elite goal scorer. However, he’s the type of player who can be put in just about any situation and succeed. So my first expectation for him is to see time on both the power play and penalty kill units in San Diego. Second, while he’s not an elite scorer, I’d like to see him put up some points for the Gulls. I’d be happy if he can be in the 10 goal and 30 point range. It would be amazing if he was called up to Anaheim and made his NHL debut this year, but that’s something that I won’t expect out of him this year.

Gaucher feels like a player who is destined to make the NHL. Not necessarily as a star power forward, but a good defensive center with offensive upside. While he has a chance to make his NHL debut this year, I think it more likely we see him in Anaheim in the 2024-2025 season and a chance at a full time NHL job the following season.

Gaucher is currently signed to a three-year entry-level contract. When his contract expires he’ll be a restricted free agent and I fully expect the Ducks to extend him. I don’t think it will be on a long-term deal, but as long as he’s established himself in the NHL, the Ducks will probably try to extend him for two or three years. If he’s become an NHL star by then, then the Ducks could try to get him signed on a longer deal. However, if he’s spent most of the next few years in the AHL, the Ducks could instead try and get him on a short, two-way deal.

The next prospect update will be on Sasha Pastujov.

Related Articles:

Prospect Update: Trevor Janicke

Prospect Update: Calle Clang

Prospect Update: Jacob Perreault

Prospect Update: Tristan Luneau

Prospect Update: Pavol Regenda

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September 17th, 2023


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