Even as the Philadelphia Flyers have promised to aggressively retool, they are proving they can save some room for patience.
Resisting a trade for more immediate help, the Flyers spent the No. 5 overall pick in the NHL draft Thursday on 18-year-old Cutter Gauthier, aware that the versatile forward with ties to Berks County will spend the upcoming season playing for Boston College.
Cutter’s mother, Kim, is from Wyomissing and is a Wilson grad. Her maiden name is Comishock. His father, Sean, a goalie, played 23 game for the Reading Royals in the 2001-02 season. Cutter said he often spent summers in the Reading area.
“I’ve been a fan of the Flyers ever since I was a kid,” Gauthier said. “It is a huge honor to play for such a great organization.”
In his most recent season in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, Gauthier provided 34 goals and 65 points. At 6-2, 200 pounds, he is regarded as a skilled skater able to stop in mid-stride and make a meaningful play.
Gauthier spent much of his youth in Arizona, but moved to Michigan with his family when he was 10 in order to develop his skills with a high-level bantam program.
“It was such a surreal moment,” said Gauthier, as he tugged on an orange Flyers sweater Thursday. “It was everything I dreamed of growing up, hearing my name called one day, and I am so happy that the Philadelphia Flyers were the team that did it.
“This is super cool. I have heard great things about the Philadelphia Flyers organization and I am excited to have a great connection with them.”
Gauthier’s name had been loosely tied to the Flyers during the draft process.
“I had a good interview with them in the course of the combine,” he said. “I thought we had a real good bond in the meetings and I thought they were interested in me.”
Though the Flyers are not expecting him to take long to surface in the NHL, Gauthier has confirmed that he will play a year of college hockey. The Flyers made it clear last week that they were not committed to acquiring an NHL-ready player.
“It depends on the player, to be honest with you,” assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. “Some players are physically more ready than others. There are a couple kids that need more time to get stronger. Some have played at a little higher level. That will be up to them. Some of these kids should be ready to practice and play potentially within the year.”
That the Flyers resisted draft-night maneuvering was an indication that Gauthier was high on their board and that they expect him to make a quick ascent to the NHL. His body type and scouting reports suggest he is the kind of player able to fit coach John Tortorella’s command that the Flyers become “harder.”
Though mostly a wing, the ambidextrous Gauthier recently had begun to work more at center, a position he has indicated he would prefer to play in the NHL.
“I told the Flyers I will do whatever I can to help the team,” he said, “whether it is left wing, right wing or center.”
The Flyers, who do not own a second-round selection, next pick in the third round, No. 69 overall, when the draft resumes Friday morning at 11. They also own picks in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has said he will give strong consideration to trading for a second-round opportunity.
Sean Gauthier played in various North American minor leagues and in Sweden, where Cutter was born. The elder Gauthier went 12-8-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average, and he had one game of NHL experience, playing four scoreless minutes for the San Jose Sharks in 1998-99. He was in the Florida system from 1999 through 2001, when Fletcher was the Panthers’ assistant general manager.
Source: Berkshire mont