Ducks trade Jamie Drysdale to Flyers for Cutter Gauthier

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks swapped defenseman Jamie Drysdale for forward prospect Cutter Gauthier on Monday evening.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Ducks shook up their blue line on Monday, dealing Jamie Drysdale to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Cutter Gauthier. Gauthier was drafted fifth overall in the 2022 NHL Draft and is currently a sophomore at Boston College, where he has 23 points in 17 games this season. Drysdale missed 29 games this season due to a lower-body injury. He has five points in 10 games.

Pat Verbeek certainly knows what he wants and how to get it. The Ducks’ GM was not afraid to deal from a position of strength to acquire a player that he says the Ducks do not have in their prospect pool. Anaheim has plenty of talented blueliners in their organization. Pavel Mintyukov, Tristan Luneau and Olen Zellweger are among them. However, it was still a bit surprising to see Drysdale shipped out as the main piece.

Jan 5, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale (6) moves the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Luneau’s emergence this season after making the team out of training camp along with making his NHL debut and scoring his first NHL goal helped convince Verbeek that they could afford to part with Drysdale.

“That was a big part of it,” said Verbeek. “Tristan and the short amount of games that he got to play at our level… just watching him progress, watching him get stronger, watching him improve almost exponentially on a game-by-game basis allowed us to be able to make this trade.”

In Gauthier, the Ducks are getting a goalscorer, something head coach Greg Cronin has said the team is short on. Gauthier is also a versatile player, capable of playing both down the middle and on the wing. He currently plays center for Boston College and played center for Team USA at World Juniors, where he put up 12 points in seven games en route to a gold medal and was named the tournament’s best forward.

“He has top-6 talent,” said Verbeek. “For me, he has elite skating ability. He’s got an elite NHL shot already. He likes to shoot the puck and based on some of the players up front, I think he’s going to complement them really well and they’re going to complement him really well.”

“When I went through this deal, it was a really difficult decision,” continued Verbeek. “I really like Jamie Drysdale as a player. He’s got a great future. It was difficult in trying to do this thing. I had to look at our overall group and based on all the 18 one-goal games that we’ve lost this year, I wanted to give the group someone that can help us get over the hump in a natural scoring ability situation.”

“What I love about Cutter is he’s a shooter and goalscorer. He has a nice combination of playmaking ability as well, so I think not only will he be able to shoot the puck into the net, but I think he’s going to be able to make other players better too.”

Verbeek emphasized Gauthier’s speed numerous times during his media availability, saying that he considers it to be elite. “I wanted to add more speed to our forward group as well. I wanted us to become faster and harder to play against from a speed factor.”

Drysdale had signed a new three-year deal just three months ago following a contract dispute and Verbeek was quick to put any notion to bed about whether those discussions had anything to do with Drysdale being dealt.

“I don’t take these things personally and I hope the player doesn’t,” said Verbeek. “I’ve been a player, I’ve been in situations like this. I never took it personally with management, they’re doing their job. I have to do my job the same way and I don’t take it personally when a player is pushing to get as much money as he can, so I don’t take it personally either.

This had no bearing on this trade or this decision to move Jamie, none whatsoever. It was, for me, a pure hockey trade to help our organization and put a player in our organization that we do not have. I haven’t seen all the players, but there’s probably not one like (Gauthier) in the draft that I’ve seen yet.”

Verbeek says that they’ll let Gauthier finish out his season at Boston College before circling back to get his entry-level contract signed. “I have talked to him, yes. He is super excited. He was really excited when I talked to him, so that made me very happy.”