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Lightning forward talent Ethan Gauthier learns how to become a pro
Lightning forward talent Ethan Gauthier learns how to become a pro

BRANDON – As one of the Lightning’s most promising prospects, forward Ethan Gauthier has quickly learned the importance of knowing the intricacies of the professional life.

He used his second development camp last week as an opportunity to observe everything around him, including the NHL players at the TGH IcePlex who were doing informal offseason workouts on their own. The group included Lightning star Nikita Kucherov, center Nick Paul and former Bolts Alex Killorn, Pat Maroon, Tanner Jeannot and Andrej Sustr.

Last year was Gauthier’s debut with the Lightning, who opted to take the opportunity to draft him in the second round (37th overall pick) of the 2023 draft. Now, after a strong season at the major junior level in the The 19-year-old continues to make progress in the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League.

“To be a professional, all the details are important,” said Gauthier. “I have learned them and I must continue to learn them because I am still far from where I want to be. I will do everything I can in the next few years to get there.”

With the NHL season lasting 82 games, players have to plan their training program for the long term. Gauthier said warming up and recovery are important aspects of that. It’s not just about being able to skate or shoot.

“You don’t want to rush anything. You want to make sure you get everything done and take it step by step,” Gauthier said. “If you look at (NHL players) in the gym, they take care of their bodies for about an hour or 45 minutes after practice and before practice, making sure they’re warmed up and so on.”

“These are things that people don’t really see, but being here opened my eyes to it and made me realize that this is what you have to do to be here.”

Ethan Gauthier talks to reporters in the locker room during Lightning development camp.
Ethan Gauthier talks to reporters in the locker room during Lightning development camp. (DIRK SHADD | Times)

Gauthier said he’s watched players like Kucherov, who led the league in points last season, work on the little details. He recalled watching the Hart Trophy finalist practice catching a puck off the boards and returning it 100 times.

“They were where I am now,” Gauthier said. “When you see guys like Kucherov and Nick Paul, they were here on the ice this morning, and it’s July, and they’re working on the edges on the little details. That’s what it means to be a professional. And that’s where I want to be one day, and I know that’s what I have to do to get here one day, for sure.”

Stacy Roest, the Lightning’s assistant general manager and director of player development, said it’s positive that talent like Gauthier has the opportunity to watch the NHL guys when they’re around.

“The players that are in town, they’re working on their own,” Roest said. “They’re doing what they need to do to work on their craft, and it’s great for our guys to be around them. … They’re very talented, very dedicated, and that’s going to rub off on the younger guys for sure.”

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Last season, Gauthier led Drummondville with 71 points (including a career-high 36 goals) in 64 regular season games. He also scored 25 points, including a team-high 14 goals, in 19 playoff games to lead Drummondville to its first QMJHL title in 15 years and a berth in the Memorial Cup.

Gauthier called the long playoff run a “valuable experience.” He will return to Drummondville for one more season, possibly two, before turning pro and officially entering the Lightning system.

But he is already getting used to the organization.

“I’ve matured in a lot of ways – not just on the ice, but off it,” Gauthier said. “When you’re around people like that – coaches, staff, fitness coaches – you learn so much in a short amount of time. So I was fortunate to be here last year and develop the right mindset to learn.”

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