Flyers’ top draft pick has strong Philadelphia connections

lyers top draft pick Cutter Gauthier speaks to the media after he was selected No. 5 overall in the first round of Thursday night’s NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal (Photo by Wayne Fish)

MONTREAL – There were talented 18-year-old prospects from all over the world available at the NHL Entry Draft on Thursday night but the Flyers didn’t have to look far for their first-round pick.
With the No. 5 overall selection, the Flyers took center/wing Cutter Gauthier, whose father played goaltender for the Reading Royals, currently Philadelphia ECHL affiliate.
In fact, that’s where Cutter’s dad, Sean, met his mom, who is a Reading native. And the local connection doesn’t stop there. Cutter’s maternal grandmother hails from good old Philadelphia herself.
So this new association between Gauthier and the Flyers has a lot of incentives to succeed.
Cutter was born in Skelleftea, Sweden, which is where his father started off his career playing goaltender and would go on to play for 19 different teams, including the 2001-02 season with the Royals. He played in one NHL game for the San Jose Sharks.
The parents still have connections to the Reading area and the entire family has to be thrilled to have one of their own possibly playing in the orange, black and white someday.
“Yeah, talking with them (the Flyers) I feel like I have a real strong connection with them,’’ Gauthier said at the Bell Centre.
Mom is giving Flyers’ followers a strong endorsement.
“She said nothing but the best about the Philadelphia fan base and all the fans out there,’’ Gauthier said. “So it’s pretty cool, you know. My aunt on my mom’s side of the family lives out there. So they don’t have to move anywhere to watch me play hockey. It’s awesome, I’m really excited.’’
Gauthier was ranked only ninth by The Hockey News but the Flyers passed over a few candidates because they liked what they saw in their scouting reports.
“His size, speed, strength, very athletic,’’ general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “His testing was off the chart. On the ice he’s physical, he scores goals. He’s got good hands. It’s really hard to find a potential power forward. He has a lot of those attributes.’’
Gauthier was all smiles in his first interview by the Philadelphia media.
“Such a surreal moment, it’s everything I dreamed of growing up,’’ said Gauthier, who is headed to Boston College this fall for at least one season of NCAA Division I hockey. “To hear my name called one day and I’m so happy it was the Philadelphia Flyers who were the ones to do it.’’
Apparently the Flyers have had their eye on Gauthier for quite a while. Fletcher was looking for a “power forward’’ type and the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Gauthier filled the bill.
“I think I had a real good interview with them over the course of the (recent NHL) combine,’’ Gauthier said. “I think we had a really good bond in those meetings. I definitely think the Flyers were interested in me for sure.’’
One of Gauthier’s attractive characteristics is his ability to play all three forward positions.
“That’s something that I’ve developed over the past two years,’’ he said. “I’m versatile where I can left or right wing. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win, if that’s at wing or center. I wasn’t that physical growing up but big body that I am (now), it creates time and space. It’s a big help in my game.’’
The Flyers – in particular new coach John Tortorella – have spoken about the team becoming harder to play against. Gauthier would appear to fit that mold.
“I think it’s my compete (level),’’ Gauthier said. “That’s something I’ve developed over the past couple years. It’s the dog-and-bone mentality. You’re not going to go in the corner and beat me out of the net. . .I think I’m the complete package. I think the defensive side of the game is a big part of my game. ’’
As for the name “Cutter,’’ it turns out his grandmother found the name in a Swedish cookbook. Go figure.
“She was cooking dinner one night and found it in the cookbook,’’ Gauthier said with a smile. “It stuck. I like it so it’s great.’’
Gauthier’s father had a big influence on his decision to pursue a career in hockey.
“I’m just trying to do everything I can to get to the next level,’’ he said. “My dad played many years and he’s got many connections so it’s pretty cool to see the Flyers are one of them. I’m pretty excited to be part of this organization and have some strings attached.’’
One scouting report said: “He has a nose for the net and a combination of good size and good skating ability. Gauthier is expected to play some center at Boston College but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be a long-term winger, a center or a swingman depending on his linemates. He is a plus shooter and an above-average skater for a player his size. He won’t dazzle with fancy plays but he wins puck battles and recognizes offensive opportunities.”
Fletcher said Gauthier has a lot of what the Flyers were looking for in a prospect.
“We had him high on our list,’’ Fletcher noted. “It’s a relatively flat draft. I think I’ve said that before. We’re really happy with Cutter. We like his versatility. I think he has a chance to be a pretty good player.’’
Gauthier played for the USA Under-18 team this past season and showed he could compete on both the power play and the penalty kill. Fletcher believes Gauthier could compete for a spot on the U.S. World Junior team this upcoming season.

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About Wayne Fish 1782 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.