As forward Nathan Gaucher walked the streets of downtown Montreal, he couldn’t help but ponder the possibility of becoming a member of the Canadiens in the next few hours.
The last time the Montreal Canadiens drafted a Quebecer in the first round was in 2009, when the organization awarded Louis Leblanc his 18th drafte Repechage selection presented… in Montreal.
Many remember the reaction from fans at the Bell Center who quickly chanted, “Louis! Louis! Louis!” while the attacker walked to the stage to collect his blue, white and red jersey and cap.
To experience a moment like this would be a dream come true for the Quebec Remparts forward.
“I come back here to Montreal, I look at the city and I think it’s amazing. There will be 60 people with me on draft day, there will be fans who will applaud a guy from Quebec. I know fans would be happy to see a Quebecer with the Canadiens. It would be super cool, but there are 31 other teams as well.
With 26e Rank?
If the Habs choose left-handers in the first round, pick no. 26 acquired them from the Calgary Flames, which is rumored to rule out a deal.
If the team doesn’t move, several recruiters and observers estimate Gaucher will be available at 26e Echelon, while others believe it will come out sooner than the public consensus seems to place.
The 6-foot-3, 207-pound center tries not to get his hopes up.
“It’s hard for me to predict where I’m going to go out. It’s fun because I know there are several teams that love me and there could be a surprise. However, there is a big gap between the ranks where I am likely to be drafted. When I hear my name, I’ll just be happy.”
Although he started his professional career in Montreal, he was not at all deterred by the pressures of the market.
“I think I can handle the pressure and would go into this challenge with my eyes closed. I play ice hockey and I like to play ice hockey. I don’t want to put any more pressure on myself.”
center of the third line?
The analysis seems almost unanimous reading and hearing what is being said about Nathan Gaucher: He will be a third-line center in the NHL.
“If I were a third-line center in the NHL, that would be extraordinary. That being said, I like making predictions and that a coach can count on me in all situations. I don’t see being a third-line center in the National Hockey League as a bad thing.”
After missing the NHL Combine in Buffalo as the Remparts were still in the QMJHL playoffs, Gaucher has had to catch up in recent weeks by meeting with teams via video conference. On Tuesday, he had his first face-to-face meetings with some senior executives.
Ice hockey intended for left-handers
Nathan Gaucher grew up playing hockey. His father Yannick played in the QMJHL and is currently Assistant General Manager and Scout for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies while his brother Jacob has just completed his five year internship at the Courteau Circuit. This season, however, family talks have not been very hockey-centric.
The Quebec Remparts forward mentioned it several times this season: He sometimes struggled to focus 100% on his season due to many distractions related to his draft year. Like many other hockey players, he turned to a sports psychologist during the season.
“We didn’t really talk about his game this year,” said the father yesterday on the eve of the first round at the Science Center, where the biggest hopes were met by the media. We just stayed positive towards him. There was a period where the points didn’t come and he consulted a sports psychologist and that helped him. In the following game, he scored three goals against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Then he had a very good streak. He understood several things. If the head is healthy, the rest will follow.
Because, agrees the father, no matter what the prospects tell anyone who wants to hear it during their military year, they keep thinking about it.
“You may say you don’t think about it, but every day you have someone to remind you of it. You have interviews to fill out questionnaires. Also, everyone is proud of it and talks to you about it all the time.”
Offensive potential underestimated
Beyond the role of father, Yannick Gaucher also sees his son through the eye of his recruiter. In his eyes, his offensive potential is not recognized at fair value.
“He has scored 31 goals this season. We expect him to leave offense because he’s a good player at 200 feet. At the Midget AAA level it was the same and he still managed to produce. He’s not a guy who’s going to score 100 points in the NHL, but he’ll be able to produce,” predicts the father.
Gaucher added 26 assists to his 31 goals last season and averaged 57 points in 66 games. He added nine in 12 playoff games.
In addition, about sixty family members and loved ones from the Gaucher family will be present at the Bell Center on Thursday evening.
“We had a lot of inquiries,” laughs Yannick Gaucher. We had to choose and make decisions. I think the most important people and those who have accompanied Nathan throughout his career will be there.