We’re taking a look at Taylor Gauthier, a goaltending prospect who climbed two spots in the Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25 rankings since last year after ranking among the top rookie goalies in the AHL.
#14 Taylor Gauthier, G
2022 Ranking: No. 16
Age 22 (February 15, 2001)
Acquired via: 2022 free agency signing (three years, $2.775 million)
Height/weight: 6’2”, 208 lbs
“Combines good size and strong skating to cover the net well. Considered a highly-talented goaltender who at times has lacked consistency.” —Kyle Watson, Dobber Prospects
“Gauthier is something of an anomaly in the Penguins’ organization as he’s their only netminder over 200 pounds and he’s their only silly-sider (right-catching goaltender). He blends his size with some athleticism and is just starting to figure out the technical aspects of the position.” Seth Rorabaugh, Trib Live
Gauthier did not begin the 2022-23 campaign as a goaltender with a guaranteed shot at the AHL.
The Penguins opened last season with a busy goaltender depth chart that had Dustin Tokarski and Filip Lindberg as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tandem, with Gauthier beginning the season in the ECHL.
After 15 appearances with the Wheeling Nailers, Gauthier earned his shot on New Year’s Eve following Lindberg’s season-ending ankle injury.
Gauthier responded by stopping 29 of 30 shots from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to backstop the WBS Pens to a 4-1 win in his AHL debut.
Couple of big saves from Goat in the second period! pic.twitter.com/CcBt63wEPk— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) January 1, 2023
That performance helped Gauthier earn a regular spot in the rotation for the rest of the season, although he was sidelined for a stretch of games after suffering an injury in January.
Only eight rookie goaltenders in the AHL with at least 500 minutes under their belts averaged under a 2.75 goals against average in 2022-23. Gauthier was one of them.
His 8-3-6 record in 20 appearances shows it wasn’t always a smooth ride. Gauthier faced nine overtime periods and conceded a goal in six of them.
But it was overall a successful first pro season for the rookie, who established himself as a competitor for a WBS goaltending spot in 2023-24.
A couple quotes from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach J.D. Forrest on Gauthier:
“He had an opportunity here, and he’s one of the guys that really seized. I felt good with him in net every time he played. Really, from game one, I was like, ‘This guy’s got a swagger about him.’ We’re really happy with the progression he’s made as a rookie goaltender.” (via wbspenguins.com’s Nick Hart)
“He had a great season for us. He exceeded my personal expectations for him. He did get some opportunity due to injuries and different circumstances and he was really able to take advantage of it. He’s just got to continue to work on his pace and progress. His lateral quickness is astonishing. He’s a big body and he walks around with a bit of a swagger.” (via DK Pittsburgh Sports’ Taylor Haase)
Lindberg is headed to Finland, but the Penguins’ goaltending prospect chart is still crowded. Prospect Joel Blomqvist was just signed to a three-year entry-level contract, and veteran Magnus Hellberg recently inked a one-year deal, likely putting them at spots one and two in the WBS Pens’ depth chart.
Kyle Dubas confirmed in early July that Gauthier would be one of the Pens’ goaltenders the 2023-24 season in the minors. It seems likely that campaign will start out in the ECHL— but he could get another shot in the AHL down the stretch, and that makes him one of the Penguins’ top 15 young prospects heading into the 2023-24 campaign.