“I was very disappointed after the cut with Team Canada,” Gauthier-Leduc said. “I wanted to make that team. It was one of my dreams when I was young. I was … (ticked).”
Gauthier-Leduc signed his three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres shortly after the snub, and then endured rumors Rimouski would trade him.
“I think it played a bit in my head,” he said.
Ultimately, keeping Gauthier-Leduc paid off. Rimouski enjoyed a wild run all the way to the QMJHL final.
“I think he handled it pretty good,” Boucher said. “He had ups and downs. But mainly he’s just a fun-loving kid that just loves to be at the rink, loves to be around his teammates and likes the game.”
Now, Gauthier-Leduc is embarking on a career path similar to Boucher’s.
Twenty years ago, Boucher, selected 13th overall in 1991, thought he’d be spending his rookie pro season in Rochester. Instead, he played the first 18 of his 748 NHL games.
“I stayed in Buffalo when I was 19, so that was a little bit of surprise for me,” said Boucher, who was traded to Los Angeles in 1995. “Everything happened so fast. I think it’s a little bit like that for him.”
Gauthier-Leduc might have to wait longer to crack the big leagues, however. The Sabres have about nine NHL defensemen, and 2010 first-round pick Mark Pysyk is also turning pro.
“I have to prove something,” Gauthier-Leduc said, “and … I’m sure I’m going to play a couple years in the (AHL).”