Carolina Hurricanes forward prospect Julien Gauthier always has stood out among his peers on the ice.

That was the case in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he used his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame to dominate against smaller players in their late teens. The same was true in early July, when he matched up with older prospects at Hurricanes development camp.

"With Julien, you see a guy who already is a man," Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said. "He's big and strong and powerful. You watch him skate, and he can absolutely fly and he can shoot a puck."

That's why the 21st pick in the 2016 NHL Draft grabs so much attention, and Carolina is intrigued to see how the 19-year-old can use his physical stature as a professional.

"Sure, it's an advantage," Gauthier said. "Now juniors is over and you're not going to play against kids anymore. Every player in the NHL is strong. Even if you're small, you've got power. To be strong is a big asset."

A forward with good hands around the net, Gauthier started slowly with Val d'Or last season, scoring seven goals in 23 games. But after a trade to Saint John, he found his touch paired with fellow Hurricanes prospect forward Spencer Smallman.

Gauthier had 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 20 regular-season games with Saint John, but raised his game to another level in the QMJHL playoffs with 17 points (11 goals, six assists) in 16 games. He helped Saint John reach the Memorial Cup, scoring six points (two goals, four assists) in four games.