Scout’s Analysis: What the Ducks get in Gauthier, Flyers in Drysdale

Jeff Marek and Matt Marchese discuss how the Philadelphia Flyers took this Cutter Gauthier drama, and spun it into a great business decision by acquiring a young defencemen with a ton of potential in Jamie Drysdale, and a second round pick.

On Monday night, a type of trade went down that we rarely see in the NHL, when two young, top recent draft picks were swapped.

The Philadelphia Flyers picked up 21-year-old Jamie Drysdale, the sixth-overall pick from 2020 who has 123 games of NHL experience and unlucky recent injury history. In return they sent Cutter Gauthier, the fifth-overall pick from the 2022 draft, to Anaheim.

The genesis of this deal came from the fact Gauthier had made it clear to the Flyers organization he no longer wished to play for them. The 19-year-old Boston College forward — who leads that team with 13 goals in 17 games — is coming off a gold medal at the WJC where he was tied for the tournament scoring lead. The Flyers say Gauthier refused to meet with them while at that tournament in Sweden.

“It was a long time coming,” Flyers GM Daniel Briere said. “It’s been going on for a while. We tried to give him space. We tried to get in touch with him many times. He would not communicate … so at some point, we had to make a decision, and we thought with what happened just a few days ago, this was probably the time to get the highest value.”

Gauthier joins a group of exciting young forward prospects in Anaheim, where they’ve already got Leo Carlsson, Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish. Gauthier could possibly join that group when his college season ends.

“We do not have a player like this in our prospect pool,” Ducks GM Pat Verbeek said about Gauthier. “He has obviously top-six (forward) talent. He’s a gifted skater. For me, he has elite skating ability. He’s got an elite NHL shot already, and he’s a goal-scorer. He likes to shoot the puck, and based on some of the players that we have up front, I think he’s going to complement them really well.”

But the Flyers are getting a pretty good player back, too.

Though Drysdale was limited to eight games by injury last season and 10 games this season, he’s been logging big minutes for the Ducks and in his one full NHL season posted 32 points (at age 19). Given the position the Flyers organization was in with Gauthier, they made out well to get such an impactful and young player, plus a second-round pick.

“We were very pleased in the return,” Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones said. “We got a player we coveted and were searching for in Jamie Drysdale. He’s got skill and we’re looking forward to seeing him get into our lineup … he’s an extremely popular player and person.”

Given the ages of these two players and the rarity of these types of deals, this trade will surely be one we look back on again and again over the years to debate who made out better. For now, both Anaheim and Philadelphia have picked up a player they feel will help their organization.

For a closer look at what the Ducks and Flyers got in this trade, we turn to our scout Jason Bukala:

SCOUT’S ANALYSIS

To Anaheim: Cutter Gauthier

I’m fresh off viewing him and Team USA at the WJC in Sweden. Gauthier tied for the tournament scoring title with two goals and 10 assists in seven games. 

The Ducks are adding a forward who projects to be a top six, more than likely top line, forward at the NHL level. He brings a range of size, skill, pace and puck touch. Gauthier can be a threat off the rush with his speed. When he gets the edge on zone entries, he’s a big body heading to the net. He’s equally proficient one-timing pucks from the weak side on the power play, or working to win pucks back in the trenches. 

Gauthier will complement the skill players the Ducks already have on their roster and the ones in the system. He will provide the organization with a big, powerful, skill element at the top of their lineup in time. 

To Philadelphia: Jamie Drysdale, second-round pick in 2025

Drysdale has had some bad luck, injury-wise, early in his development at the NHL level. But he looks healthy and back to playing to his strengths. 

Drysdale is a transitional defenceman and power-play quarterback. He’s also a right-shot, which ups his value. 

Drysdale has a long way to go learning how to defend with more purpose and structure at the NHL level. His approach defensively isn’t to overpower opponents physically (although he is plenty strong at five-foot-11, 190 pounds). He’s more of an area defender. He will be challenged by the Flyers coaches to learn to commit to his role in the defensive zone and, if required, block shots. 

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Offensively, Drysdale should be able to add an element to the Flyers as he continues to mature. He sees the ice, has good puck touch and legs to join the rush as an extra layer. He’s more of a distributor than a shooter. 

Depending on where the Ducks are in their rebuilding process, the second-round pick (2025) going from Anaheim to Philadelphia in the deal could land in the top 40 of that draft. Having an extra swing at a prospect early in the second round of any draft is a bonus and opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked in this deal.

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