Another former NHLer linked to Cutter Gauthier and trade to Ducks
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Another former NHLer linked to Cutter Gauthier and trade to Ducks

Did the former Ducks star get in the young prospect's ear?



Yesterday, newly acquired Anaheim Ducks prospect Cutter Gauthier spoke for the first time since his trade from the Philadelphia Flyers and answered some of the rumors concerning his contentious exit from Philadelphia. 

You've heard the rumors... and if you haven't, you can read them all further down below in our report from earlier this week. But, suffice it to say that Flyers fans are NOT happy with Gauthier nor former Flyers forward Kevin Hayes. Hayes was implicated in having helped influence Gauthier's decision, a rumor that Gautheir himself denied vehemently. 

“I haven’t spoken to him in a long time,” Gauthier said of Hayes to Derek Lee of The Sporting Tribune. “I wanted to clarify it so it’s not just his words against everyone else’s. I wanted to make sure (it’s known) that he definitely was not involved in this whatsoever. It’s kind of disrespectful to his name that he was being brought up.”

“All those rumors saying I was scared of Torts, that’s not the case at all,” continued Gauthier. “I’ve had many hardo coaches throughout my whole life and I think that any coach I play for would love to have me on their team. I want to do whatever it takes to win and if they’re a hard, yelling, screaming kind of coach, I’ll roll with the punches. I’m never going to disrespect or talk back to a coach. I’m going to give it my all every single shift and that was definitely not the reason why I didn’t want to play in Philly. I actually met Torts during dev camp two years back. I was super excited and thrilled to meet him and obviously being a big name in hockey and the coaching staff industry, definitely was not against playing for him whatsoever.”

What was interesting to me though is that Gauthier admitted to speaking with former Ducks star Ryan Kesler about his trade. Kesler was Gauthier's assistant coach in the US National Development Program from 2020 until 2022.

“Obviously, it was a bit different for him," said Gauthier on Kesler. He was finishing out his career there with family and kids,” said Gauthier. “But he said it would be a great place to start a young career. There’s so much stuff to do, the weather’s great. He had nothing but great things to say about it, so listening to him and seeing how well he’s done in his career, pretty excited to get things going there soon enough.”

So... I might be crazy here but... did Kesler have an influence in this decision?

I can't imagine that Gauthier had any say in where he ended up getting traded, especially when the Flyers have openly said that they were targeting Jamie Drysdale all along.

Still, Gauthier did say that he has spent the past two summers with Kesler in Michigan.

In any case, read below for more on this monster of a trade and the ensuing fallout.

Also, in case you missed it last night, Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella absolutely unloaded on Flyers reporter Anthony SanFilippo.

SanFilippo, you may recall, is the reporter who first started rumors that former Flyers forward Kevin Hayes was responsible for initiating the Cutter Gauthier and Jamie Drysdale trade with the Anaheim Ducks. SanFilippo reported that 'Kevin Hayes' fingerprints are all over this thing,' insinuating that Hayes' frustration with the Flyers somehow enabled Gauthier to demand a trade from the team.

Frankly, SanFilippo's report seemed like a stretch to me at the time and I'm glad he's getting called out on it by Tortorella. This guy, and other Philly media members for that example, are coming across like a jilted ex-lover in the wake of this trade.

Here's what Torts had to say about the entire situation last night:

I'll always respect a coach sticking up for his players, or in this case a player who's not even on the team anymore. Torts may not be everyone's cup of tea but he at least gives a damn about his players.

Meanwhile Drysdale, the forgotten person in all of this, played his first game for his new team last night and looked like he has fit in perfectly already. The blue liner had a beautiful assist on a Morgan Frost tally and was solid at both ends of the ice. He had a few chances to win the game in overtime and looked like an offensive threat every time he possessed the puck in the extra frame. The best part though? His parents were there to witness his first game as a Flyer thanks to a classy move by the team's management staff.

Check it out:

I've got to say, with all we've heard and read about Gauthier in this situation, Drysdale isn't getting enough press. He seems like a great kid with oodles of skill. The Flyers have got a good one here.

For more context on this entire situation, read below for our report published earlier this week.

In case you missed it yesterday evening, the Philadelphia Flyers acquired former 6th overall draft pick Jamie Drysdale and a 2nd round pick from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for former 5th overall pick Cutter Gauthier.

Check it out:

NHL insiders Elliotte Friedman and Frank Seravalli both report that Gauthier informed the Flyers that he was not interested in signing with the team.

Check it out:

In his press availability, Flyers GM Daniel Briere confirmed as much and went so far as to say that Gauthier wouldn't meet or speak with the Flyers in Sweden at last week's World Junior Championships.

"We tried to get in touch with him many times, they would not communicate," said Briere to reporters in his media conference.

More concerning to me though, is it looks like Gauthier just straight up flip-flopped on his desire to sign with the team that drafted him.

“He looked at us at the draft and told us that he was built to be a Flyer. Wanted to be a Flyer. A few months later, he told us that he didn’t want to be a Flyer," Briere said.

More insight from Flyers assistant GM Keith Jones:

The Flyers' brass flew all the way to Sweden to meet with the kid and he wouldn't even give them a meeting. That reeks of unprofessionalism, to me. Honestly, the Flyers might have dodged a bullet with this trade. This kid either needs to get his head on right or he needs to get some new advisors surrounding him.

Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reports that Gauthier was planning on signing with the Flyers late last season, but wasn't able to due to the team's cap situation.

From Friedman:

"I do think that at the end of last season (Gauthier's college season), there was a conversation about about turning pro. And from what I understand the Flyers said they couldn't do it at the time because his bonuses would have put them over the cap and they didn't want their to be an overage this year. Now, I can't say for sure because nobody is talking here but one of the theories here is that, for whatever reason, Gauthier took that as a sign that they weren't willing to take him right away or that they weren't enthusiastic about taking him right away."

"Philly thought we're still happy to have you and we want you and we're gonna give you a great chance to make this team next year. They weren't going to promise him a spot, but I think they made it very clear that if he performed in camp and exhibition games they way he could that he could very well make the team. And I think it was perceived on the other side that Philly wasn't willing to bend things to make it happen right away."

"I think that at the end of last year when Philly kind of said we can't do this right now, it's possible that it was not received as it was intended and it drove a wedge into the relationship. That's what I'm told right now." 

- Elliotte Friedman

More from Friedman's 32 Thoughts blog for Sportsnet:

According to several sources, whatever happened pre-dates May 11, when Keith Jones was hired and Daniel Briere officially became general manager. The last time they met face-to-face with Gauthier was on a Zoom call right after the World Championships, which concluded May 28. At that time, the Flyers were hoping Gauthier was ready to sign, only to be floored by hearing he would never do so.

Several sources believe that whatever discussions took place after March 11 — when Boston College’s 2022-23 season ended with a loss in the Hockey East quarterfinals — threw an unintentional wrench into this relationship.

The Flyers have a $1.2 million bonus overage from last season. That would have gone up an extra $212,500 if Noah Cates made the All-Rookie team. They were being careful, not wanting to risk more charges. (A few agents/execs were wondering about this, since it wouldn’t have been much money. But it was mentioned a couple of times, so I’m including it.) Since he was 19, Gauthier’s entry-level contract could slide to this season, but Philadelphia had 16 games remaining. The year could have been “burned” if Gauthier got into 10 of them, earning him a season towards his second contract.

Now, this shouldn’t make anyone think they didn’t want Gauthier. They loved him, preferring to begin his entry-level clock in 2023-24 (I have wondered if they offered to start him on an AHL tryout to finish the year). They weren’t going to guarantee anything, but if he showed what he was capable of during this year’s camp — there was definitely room on the NHL roster. 

I don’t know why, but I do believe things soured for Gauthier after this. I also believe if the Flyers had reason to believe this was that big a problem, they would have reversed course or found another way to make things work. But when Gauthier wouldn’t meet with them at the recent World Juniors, it was over. (As an aside, I did have some teams tell me it is not unusual for players to be off-limits during these events. Hockey Canada, in particular, was well-known for keeping NHL clubs at arm’s length.)

But this was a unique situation. Gauthier kept the Flyers at bay for months and the Flyers knew if it got out, their leverage would be damaged. As Jones said during Monday’s broadcast, “If you don't want to be a Flyer, you're not going to be a Flyer.”

- Elliotte Friedman

To me, this sounds like one big, giant communication breakdown. 

If Gauthier had simply granted some meeting time with the Flyers' brass, I'm willing to bet that the two sides would be able to come together on terms that they all agreed with. Now, I guess, we'll see how things play out with Gauthier and the Ducks.

Meanwhile though, the Flyers' fanbase and their ownership and management group aren't letting the kid off the hook so easily.

Owner and CEO Dan Hilferty commented on the trade and predicted a "rough ride" for Gauthier if and when he makes his return to Philadelphia.

Check it out:

Meanwhile following the Flyers' loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday evening, head coach John Tortorella had a couple all-timer quotes on Gauthier and his thoughts on the deal:

Another master class in how to put out a soundbite from Torts.

Late last night the Flyers' online fanbase went into overdrive with conspiracy theories on how this all transpired and one of the most plausible theories, to me at least, is that former Flyers forward Kevin Hayes got into Gauthier's ear early on and soured the young man's view on the franchise. Gauthier admitted himself that he and Hayes became close after the Flyers drafted him and that they would talk and text on the phone often. Longtime Flyers reporter Anthony SanFilippo went so far as to say that Hayes' 'fingerprints are all over this.'

Check it out:

Hayes has fired back at SanFilippo calling him a clown and saying, "whoever that is is a complete clown and anyone who thinks I had anything to do with this doesn’t have a brain.” That's according to Hayes' good friend and Spittin' Chiclets host Ryan Whitney.

Now crazed Flyers fans are coming after Hayes with death threats and are speaking ill of Kevin's deceased brother Jimmy Hayes.

From Hayes to Blues insider Jeremy Rutherford:

“It’s 100 percent false. I don’t know where he got his information from. At first it didn’t really seem like a big deal. But just the shit that’s come from the aftermath, people with death threats, people want my family dead, people happy my brother’s dead. It’s just crazy stuff coming out on something I had not a single aspect of what I’ve done, had any implications on this kid’s decision.”

- Kevin Hayes

Hayes, of course, was traded by the Flyers to the Blues this past offseason after four years of up and down play since signing a massive seven year, $50 million contract with the team as a free agent back in 2019. Hayes was wildly inconsistent with the Flyers and, as you might imagine, clashed frequently with Tortorella. Now there are reports that he's souring the franchise's future outlook even while he's moved on to St. Louis. I can't confirm anything, but it looks to me like maybe young Gauthier learned a bit about being an unprofessional clown by ol' 'Hazy' himself.

Now, having said all that... no one deserves death threats. It's just a game people. Get a grip.

In any case, regardless of who's to blame I've got to say that I'm absolutely floored by this deal! When was the last time we had two high profile prospects swapped like this? Maybe the Jonathan Drouin and Mikhail Sergachev trade back in 2017?

Meanwhile, Ducks GM Pat Verbeek spoke glowingly of the young Gauthier in his team's press release announcement.

“This is a trade we felt we needed to make as a player with Cutter’s dynamic skill set are not available often,’ said Ducks General Manager Pat Verbeek. “We see Cutter as a long-term, high-end player who produces in big moments. We also want to thank Jamie for his four years in Anaheim. It is a difficult trade to make as he has a great future in front of him both on and off the ice.”

The 21 year old Drysdale was selected 6th overall by the Ducks back in 2020. He has suited up for 123 NHL games across parts of three seasons with the Ducks, putting up eight goals and 45 points. He has one goal and five points in 10 games so far this season and missed almost all of last season due to a torn labrum. He's seen as one of the best young defensemen in the NHL and is signed to a very reasonable $2.3 million cap hit for the next three seasons.

As for Gauthier, he's fresh off a gold medal performance with Team USA at the 2024 World Junior Championships, where he put up a remarkable 12 points in just 7 games. He's a dynamic offensive player with high end playmaking and shooting skills. He's viewed as one of the top prospects in hockey period, regardless of position. Needless to say that the Ducks paid a high price to acquire Gauthier, but with Gauthier alongside the likes of Trevor Zegras, Mason McTavish and Leo Carlsson the Ducks are loaded with young offensive talent.

Read below for the Flyers' official press release announcement:

he Philadelphia Flyers today announced the club has acquired defensemanJamie Drysdale and a second-round selection in the 2025 NHL Draft from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Cutter Gauthier, according to General Manager Daniel Briere.

Drysdale, 21 (4/8/02), was selected by the Ducks in the first round, sixth overall, of the 2020 NHL Draft. He owns five points (1-4=5) in 10 games with Anaheim this season. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Toronto, Ontario, has 45 points (8-37=45) in 123 games in four seasons with the Ducks (2020-24). He missed majority of the 2022-23 campaign due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The right-shot blueliner set career highs in goals (4), assists (28) and points (32) in 81 games during the 2021-22 season. He ranked second among all NHL rookie defensemen in 2021-22 in points, assists, shots (137) and games while he became one of four rookie defensemen in Ducks history to record 30-or-more points. He tallied two points (1-1=2) in his NHL debut on March 18, 2021 vs. ARI. He became the third defenseman in NHL history to record multiple points in his NHL debut at age 18-or-younger while his first NHL goal marked only the fourth time in NHL history an 18-year-old scored a goal in his NHL debut.

Drysdale skated in two seasons with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and collected 87 points (16-71=87) in 112 career games (2018-20). He was named to the 2018-19 OHL First All-Rookie Team and to the 2019-20 OHL First Team All-Star. He has represented Canada at the 2020 (gold) and 2021 (silver) World Junior Championship and became the youngest defenseman since 2001 to appear in a World Junior Championship for Canada in 2020 (Jay Bouwmeester, 17 years, 3 months).

Gauthier was selected by the Flyers in the first round, fifth overall, of the 2022 NHL Draft and has yet to make his NHL debut. He has spent the last two seasons with Boston College (2022-24).

And the Ducks' full official press release announcement:

The Ducks have acquired left wing Cutter Gauthier (GOH-chee-AY) from the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a second-round selection in the 2025 NHL Draft.

“This is a trade we felt we needed to make as a player with Cutter’s dynamic skill set are not available often,’ said Ducks General Manager Pat Verbeek. “We see Cutter as a long-term, high-end player who produces in big moments. We also want to thank Jamie for his four years in Anaheim. It is a difficult trade to make as he has a great future in front of him both on and off the ice.”

Gauthier, 19 (1/19/04), has helped Team USA earn medals at numerous international tournaments. He led the Americans to a gold medal at the 2024 World Junior Championship, co-leading the tournament in points (2-10=12) and assists while serving as an alternate captain. He was named the Best Forward and to the 2024 tournament All-Star Team, leading Team USA in points and assists while scoring the game-winning goal in the third period of the Semifinal to help the U.S. advance to the gold medal game. He also represented Team USA at the 2023 World Championship, ranking tied for second in goals at the tournament and recording the most points by an under-20 player (7-2=9). He also helped the U.S. earn medals at the 2023 World Junior Championship (bronze, 4-6=10 points in seven games) and 2022 U-18 World Championship (silver, 3-6=9 points in six games).

Selected by Philadelphia in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2022 NHL Draft, Gauthier recorded 34-31=65 points in 54 games with a +33 rating at the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) U-18 team in 2021-22. He ranked second in goals and fifth in points among team leaders. He also scored 20-17=37 points in 44 games with the USNTDP U-17 team in 2020-21.

Source: Derek Lee