CHICAGO – He was targeted by the Rangers and then in the lineup.
Julien Gauthier made his blueshirts debut in a 6-3 win over the Blackhawks on Wednesday night, a day after the Hurricanes got him in exchange for defender Joey Keane.
The 22-year-old Gauthier was known in the first round (No. 21 overall) and is considered a scorer. This season AHL Charlotte scored 26 goals in 44 games. It stands 6-feet-4, 230 pounds, and has great speed for its size.
He didn't play a barrel and started in the fourth row with Brett Howden (who was back in the middle) and Brendan Lemieux. But Gauthier raced into the net and pulled a penalty in the third half that resulted in a Powerplay goal by Ryan Strome.
"He was a high profile player," said Rangers coach David Quinn before the game. "First round selection played in Canada  The World Juniors team has had great success at all levels at which it has been. We were definitely excited to get it.
"I've been looking after him for a while, certainly a guy who was being targeted."
Gauthier is a right-footed shot and said he would rather play the right wing. The Quebec-born Pointe-aux-Trembles knew he was joining a young team and had the opportunity to make a difference.
He said the message to him was "play your game", which he easily explained.
"Big guy who can go on the net, skate well and shoot the puck," said Gauthier.
Gauthier played all five of his NHL games for the Hurricanes this season and scored an assist. But he knew he had a big chance.
“Really young team and world-class organization. They treat the players well, ”said Gauthier. "People want to come here and play and everyone plays hard."
Quinn also hoped that the longing for Gauthier would be justified.
"He is a guy who is very tall and fast," said Quinn. "He scored goals wherever he was. I look forward to having him in the lineup and bringing these two elements – size and speed – with me."
The Rangers exchanged views with the island's former goalkeeper, Jean-Francois Berube, and sent future considerations to the Flyers.
Berube played for AHL Lehigh Valley and could be the goalkeeper the Rangers exposed in the 2021 draft expansion.
With Gauthier in the lineup, Greg McKegg was a healthy scratch. McKegg had played in the last 31 games, mainly as the center of the fourth row.
Defender Tony DeAngelo returned from his absence in two games after suffering an upper body injury in Minnesota last Thursday. DeAngelo, who returned to his regular place alongside veteran Marc Staal (who pushed Brendan Smith out of the lineup), had two assists.