By: Lauren Cuppy
January 30, 2024
Photo Credit: Getty Images
After gaining 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) in seven games for Team USA at the 2024 IIHF World Juniors, Cutter Gauthier was traded for Jamie Drysdale by the Philadelphia Flyers. This news came as a shock, as Drysdale was one of the most promising defenseman for Anaheim, having just finalized a three-year, $6.9 million bridge contract with the Ducks. On the other hand, Gauthier was the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NHL draft and is currently playing for Boston College. This season, he’s racked up an impressive total of 30 points in just 21 games.
Gauthier is an extremely talented player, so how could the Flyers lose one of their top prospects before he even left the NCAA? Red flags appeared back in the summer, when the prospect declined his invitation to development camp. Waving it off as a rest after the World Championships, the Flyers GM Danny Briere assured the public that there was nothing to worry about (ESPN). Eventually, however, Gauthier wanted out.
The specific reasons as to why he wanted a trade are still a mystery. Some speculate that Gauthier not wanting to return to Boston for his sophomore season was a major factor, but this line of reasoning feels too juvenile – who wouldn’t want to secure their multi-million NHL contract as early as possible? It is rare for a NCAA player to stay for only a single season. Although he remained vague, Gauthier told the media that there “wasn’t one specific reason why [he] asked for a trade… It was multiple, [recurring] issues that [he’d] seen over the past year and a half, two years of being under the Flyers organization” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, “the reception Cutter Gauthier is going to get in Philadelphia as a member of the Ducks is going to make John Tavares' return to Long Island look like a family reunion by comparison.” Needless to say, when the Anaheim Ducks play in Philadelphia next season, be sure to tune in.
Although Anaheim is down a top-pick player until Gauthier’s college season comes to a close, the team has a bright future ahead. With players such as Leo Carlsson, Mason McTavish, and Pavel Mintyukov, the Ducks roster is filled with young talent. There’s even more in the pipeline, as Anaheim also acquired a second round pick in the 2025 NHL Entry Draft with the Gauthier-Drysdale trade.
The whole situation highlights the controversy surrounding how young prospects should be treated this early on in their careers, emphasizing the role that social media plays in fans’ perception of athletes and the news. Following the announcement, Gauthier received backlash and criticism from the hockey community, some going as far as death threats. Many were angry that a kid so young had caused so many waves without giving the franchise a chance, calling him unprofessional for disrespecting the organization’s leaders. However, at the end of the day, Gauthier is just an eighteen year old trying to navigate his career, focusing on what’s best for him and his development.