Lightning Sign Saint John Scoring Star

Cory Conacher's reign as the Lightning's newest prospect lasted a day.

On Friday the Tampa Bay Lightning announced the signing of free agent forward Danick Gauthier of the Saint John Sea Dogs.

Gauthier, 6-foot-2, 201 pounds, has played in 59 games with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, recording 41 goals and 72 points, to go along with a plus-35 rating. He ranks second in the QMJHL in goals and is tied for 12th in points. Gauthier has recorded four hat-tricks this season and also leads the Sea Dogs with 11 power-play goals.

The Repentigny, Quebec, native has skated in 212 career games in the QMJHL with the Sea Dogs and Shawinigan Cataractes, posting 70 goals and 132 points, to go along with 219 penalty minutes. Gauthier was a member of the 2009-10 Sea Dogs team that won the Memorial Cup.

Jerome Berube of HockeyProspect.com called Gauthier a late bloomer and pointed out he only started playing in the league at age 18. HockeyProspects had Gauthier graded as a possible third round choice in the 2010 NHL draft.

"Good size with nice offensive upside," Berube said of Gauthier. "He will stick up for his teammates."

Gauthier, who camped with the Phoenix Coyotes last year after working out twice a day to further his chances at a professional career, has the potential to fill a void left by the departure of Carter Ashton to Toronto in a trade deadline day deal this week. The Lightning have a nice crop of skill forwards in the pipeline, but not many with grit and size.

Gauthier is eligible to join the Norfolk Admirals when the Sea Dogs are finished playing, but the defending Memorial Cup champs have an impressive roster and are highly likely to be one of the two teams from the Q in the Memorial Cup tournament in May.

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