PHILADELPHIA – In private, Cutter Gauthier said he didn’t want to be a Flyer, so now he isn’t.
The question is: Why?
Flyers general manager Daniel Briere, who traded the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night in exchange for defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a second-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft, said he doesn’t have the answer.
Gauthier was thought to have a good chance of making the Flyers in the next year or two but all that went up in smoke when he made it known he didn’t want to play in Philadelphia.
Briere met with the media during the first intermission of Monday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and couldn’t explain Gauthier’s thinking.
“It (trade negotiations) has been going on for awhile,” Briere said. “We tried to give him space. We tried to get in touch with him (and his agent) many times. He would not communicate as far as the Gauthier side.
Briere believes he got fair value in return. Drysdale is a highly regarded backliner.
“It’s not very often you get the chance to find a Jamie Drysdale that you can add to your lineup,” Briere said. “When he was made available, we got really excited. A chance to add a player of his caliber to a premium position and a right-shot defenseman for a left winger. It just made a lot of sense. We felt it was the right time to do it.”
Drysdale, 21, was taken number six overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. He’s already played in 123 NHL games for Anaheim, scoring eight goals and 37 assists for 45 points.
The Toronto, Ontario native broke in with the Ducks in the 2020-21 season. Drysdale is 5-foot-11, 183 pounds.
Gauthier was the Flyers’ first-round (fifth overall) pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. The Skelleftea, Sweden native has been playing for Boston College the past two seasons.
In the recent WJC which concluded Saturday, Gauthier, 19, tied for the tournament lead with two goals/12 points and was a plus-9. In 49 games at Boston College he has scored 29 goals/60 points.
Gauthier raised some red flags back in the summer when he said he did not want to participate in Flyers development camp.
“The reason why we didn’t want to say anything was not to hide anything from our great fans, it was to try to protect the kid,” Briere said. “We were hoping at some point he would change his mind. He had already changed his mind – at the draft he told us he was built to be a Flyer. A few months later, he told us he didn’t want to be a Flyer.
“In our mind, at first, we said we have to protect him. Because if he changes his mind again and he doesn’t play, it’s going to be tough for him to put the uniform on. When we realized he refused to talk to us, and didn’t want to be a Flyer, didn’t want to be in Philadelphia, it was time to make it happen.”
As for the reason why Gauthier was against the idea of playing in Philadelphia, Briere had no answers.
“I don’t know, we never got an answer,” Briere said. “I don’t know much more than that. At this point, it is what it is. We were disappointed he didn’t want to play here. We started looking at this and how we were going to make the most of it.”
Briere thanked all the other teams who showed an interest in Gauthier for keeping the negotiations “quiet.” Just in case the player changed his mind again.
The GM said Drysdale is a “special” player.
“The chance to add them don’t come too often,” the GM said. “Jamie is an exciting player.”
Briere said nothing happened specifically that soured the relationship with Gauthier.
Drysdale was hurt earlier this season, so the Flyers wanted to make sure he was healthy again before making the deal.
The GM revealed the Flyers were talking to other NHL teams as far back as last summer.
Briere said Drysdale is scheduled to play with the Flyers as soon as he’s ready.
“I’m hoping it’s a trade that works for everybody,” Briere said. “He (Drysdale) might be able to play on Wednesday (home vs. Montreal).”