Carolina Hurricanes: Julien Gauthier Surging for Checkers

Carolina Hurricanes’ forward Julien Gauthier has been steady with his development. Since his reassignment to the Charlotte Checkers, he’s really separated himself from the pack.

The Carolina Hurricanes have been as patient as possible regarding Julien Gauthier’s development, and to this point it has paid off. His game is really rounding into form and that’s evident in his past month with the Charlotte Checkers.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I felt the Carolina Hurricanes could be more effectively deploying Gauthier. But, his recent tear is evidence why he was sent back down. There’s still more untapped potential at the AHL level. I’ve come to accept that the ship has sailed on Gauthier making the big club permanently this season. But, I’m also 110% certain that his tipping point into NHL-regular is right in front of us.

Before I get into what Gauthier has done well, it needs to be said that he was injured last night in warm-ups. The undisclosed injury was significant enough that it caused him to miss the game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for further information on his status.

On to the awesome stuff, though.

After a slow start to the season, Gauthier has skyrocketed up the AHL goals leaderboard. He has 18 on the season and that’s good for a four-way tie for fifth place. In his past 11 games, dating back to December 4, 2019, Gauthier is averaging one goal per game. You can do that math. It’s Gauthier’s world, and we’re all living in it.

But his recent growth goes beyond the 11 goals. There are other things standing out about his upward trend. Four of them have come on the power play. I’m no mathematician, but scoring over one-third of last’s months goals on the man advantage seems dangerous.

In addition to his goal-scoring prowess, Gauthier has turned his plus-minus around. You can take it for whatever it’s worth to you, but he’s a plus-8 in the past month and up to a -5 on the season. Quite frankly, plays like the one above, where he gets himself into scoring position are reasons for it.

Gauthier has also added five assists to his point total in the same time frame. He’ll likely always be more of a finisher due to his size and play style, but the apples are present.

Points are great, but the development in his game that has me the most excited is his discipline. If you’ll recall, one of the reasons the Carolina Hurricanes sent Gauthier back down was a handful of over-aggressive, untimely penalties. Outside of an apparent misconduct against the Syracuse Crunch, Gauthier hasn’t taken a minor penalty in his past 11 games. Talk about encouraging signs!

I’m fully sold on Gauthier’s NHL potential. I had seen enough after training camp, and I had seen enough after his last call-up. His recent trailblazing suggests to me that he values his own development and the Carolina front office’s judgment. He’s going to be a great power forward for many years, and I hope for and anticipate the day he carves out a full-time role in Canes’ threads.

Question for CC Readers:  What about Gauthier’s development and stints with the Canes has impressed you?