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Flyers are getting high-upside prospect in Cutter Gauthier

A well-built, fast-paced, physical young buck that can play center or wing? Count me in.

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It didn’t take long for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft to get out of hand. The Montreal Canadiens took Juraj Slafkovsky with the 1st overall pick, which set the course of the draft into chaos. Simon Nemec came off the board 2nd overall thanks to the New Jersey Devils, and Logan Cooley went 3rd overall to the Arizona Coyotes. Finally, Shane Wright was selected by the Seattle Kraken 4th overall. Then, the moment Philadelphia Flyers fans had been waiting for through an abysmal regular season came.

With the 5th overall pick, the Flyers selected Cutter Gauthier of the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP).

Gauthier is an interesting pick that some, including myself, would consider a slight reach. I had him ranked 11th overall, just like EliteProspects did. Bob McKenzie had him ranked 5th overall, indicating that the scouts he surveyed felt the Flyers were interested in him the most out of anyone rather than his own opinion. Craig Button also had him ranked 7th overall. Here is what McKenzie’s rankings said about the newest Flyer:

“The U.S. U-18 national team forward has NHL size (6-foot-2 1/2 and 200 pounds), speed, and a goal-scorer’s nose for the net, which is to say he has the requisite tools to be a top-six, two-way NHL power forward. Though Gauthier played some centre this season, most scouts seem to think he projects more as a pro winger. In our scout survey, Gauthier was as high as No. 3 and as low as No. 10.”

And here is what Elite Prospects said:

“He’s so good defensively, using his body well along the boards and in corners to win puck battles and move up ice. Offensively, he’s incredibly efficient. The puck is on his stick and off his stick in transition, but he also recognizes when he has pockets of space to initiate offense himself. Gauthier is unafraid to drive the puck to the net and protects the puck nicely when he chooses to do so.”

It’s infrequent that centers can play the way Gauthier does with his frame of 6-foot-2, 201 pounds. The way that he explodes through his strides and uses his stature to his advantage when attacking loose pucks and players with the puck is something that every team hopes to see in the prospect of their choosing. For example, here is Gauthier blowing up a player with the puck at his feet in semi-open ice. For all videos, Gauthier is 19 in white.

The physical aspect is just one side of Gauthier’s game that Flyers fans will undoubtedly enjoy. Other areas include how he receives passes to set up for other opportunities such as breakaways or power play goals, which I’ll show below.

Here is the first clip of him receiving a puck on a breakout and separating from the defensemen for a goal.

Not only is it essential to note Gauthier’s speed, but the way that he opens his stick blade and even his body in some capacity to receive the puck while exiting the zone is something that will serve him well at higher levels. He also uses the excellent release to fool the goaltender on the breakaway. There’s almost always something that players can do better in particular instances, but I don’t think there is any way for the streaking Gauthier to do any better here.

Here’s the clip of him on the power play:

There’s so much to like about this particular goal. First, it was a snipe, plain and simple, highlighting Gauthier’s shot again for those who may not be entirely sold on it yet. Second, he used all the space he had to take the shot instead of firing from a lower-danger area higher in the zone. Third, how he received the pass put him in a prime position to gather the puck and let it rip. The little things in plays like this could separate Gauthier from his peers as they all continue to develop side by side.

All of these little and big things in Gauthier’s game led to a very successful statistical season. Not only did the analytics show he was a sniper, but so did the box score. He scored 34 goals and 31 assists for 65 points in 54 games. He also scored 9 points in 6 games in the under-18s including 3 goals. It’s hard not to expect that those numbers will be strong again with Boston College in the 2022-23 NCAA season.

The most important thing to remember is that those are just three clips from a long season. But if you were to look up “Cutter Gauthier” on Youtube, there are plenty of montages to watch and gather information from. Of course, there are things he could work on. If he could acquire another gear in his skating, that would benefit him, and I would be interested to see what the Flyers think of his shot selection and whether or not he’s shooting too much. One might argue that “shooting too much” isn’t the real issue; instead, it’s where he’s shooting from, and I can buy that.

Nonetheless, the Flyers got a mature player that grew up a fan of the team. He plays an imposing physical game with good breakaway speed, solid playmaking ability, which got better as the year went on, and an excellent shot. They finally took a swing on a player with tons of upside, and if it works out, part of the future top-six will have been born. Keep an eye on this one, Flyers fans. He could be making Chuck Fletcher and his scouting staff look very smart in the coming years. To end this piece, here is Cutter obliterating another poor soul with a hit.

Congrats to Cutter and his family on becoming a part of the organization!