Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

So, like most Flyers fans, this writer was shocked when the news came out that the Flyers’ top prospect, Cutter Gauthier, had been traded because he no longer wanted to play for Philadelphia. The reason why this news caught so many off guard is because, as most any player that has suited up here in the past will tell you, this town has arguably the most passionate and knowledgeable fans of any city that garners a professional sports franchise. And, if you’re a player who gives it your all and leaves nothing out on the ice, court, field, etc., your efforts will never be forgotten (to prove this, just look at Bernie Parent and the rest of the Broad Street Bullies). That’s why so many retired players never end up moving away from the area.

Now I get it. Cutter may have his reasons, but he should have at least shown respect enough for the organization that drafted him to share with them why he didn’t want to play for them anymore. I mean, the team did their homework. He was the best player available at the time, as my mock draft from that year confirmed. And, in pre-draft interviews, Gauthier did tell the Flyers Brass that “He was born to be a Flyer” blah blah blah. Now, what changed his mind from the time of the draft to a few months later, when he then told the team he no longer wished to play for them, we may never know. But for him to outright refuse to have a conversation with Stanley Cup winners John LeClair and Patrick Sharp when they traveled all the way up to Boston to meet with him on campus. Not to mention refusing to talk to the Flyers’ President of Hockey OPS, Keith Jones, and General Manager Danny Briere after they traveled all the way to Sweden to sit down with him at World Juniors to try and iron this all out. WOW!!! This kid has SOME BALLS!

Regardless, the team did the right thing and moved on by trading Gauthier when his value could not be any higher. Cutter had just won a Gold Medal for Team USA and took home the honor of being named the tournament’s MVP. And with him still declining to speak to the Flyers, he all but forced their hand.

The Return

Now, as we all may have heard, and probably was the reason we made a point to tune in to watch last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens just to see him play. The Flyers were able to bring back a pretty special player in return for Gauthier. His name is Jamie Drysdale, a 21-year-old right-hand shot defenseman who the team acquired from the Anaheim Ducks along with a 2025 second-round pick.

Jamie, who played junior hockey for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, was taken sixth overall in the first round of the 2020 Draft. As you saw last night, he is a very agile defender who uses his skating ability to help him not only make great outlet passes but excel in the offensive zone as well.

Although he is predominantly thought of as a setup man who can cycle the puck along the blue line effortlessly, Jamie will not turn down the chance to jump up into the play when the opportunity presents itself in order to create his own scoring opportunities.

That’s why, with so few players presently playing in the NHL that possess an innate skill set such as his, he was able to come in with only one practice under his belt with the Flyers and immediately be placed on the top pairing alongside Travis Sanheim as well, as being trusted enough by Tortorella to be thrown out there on the team’s top power-play unit (which has been struggling this year, to say the least) and somehow instantaneously willed himself to become an impact player for them. As he was when he was able to set up Frost last night for a goal during what was just his first man advantage as a Flyer.

Of course, there must be a reason why the Ducks would be willing to part with such a young, coveted right-hand shot defender who has already proven himself capable of playing top-pairing minutes in the NHL for the likes of a promising prospect like Gauthier who apparently has a bit of a complex right?

Well, in fact, there is. Although Jamie managed to impress many in Anaheim during his four seasons spent there, he only managed to play in 123 games during that time. This means that this 5’11, 185-pound blue liner has already managed to miss a combined 103 games due to him sustaining multiple injuries over the years.

Can he overcome this with a little more time spent with the Flyer’s strength and conditioning coach? Probably, but it is a bit concerning, nonetheless.

Still, given the unfortunate hand that the Flyers were dealt, I think the team’s newly appointed management was able to add a very impactful player to their already youthful core, who will now be able to continue to grow their game together in the coming years.

I mean, come on, I know losing a guy like Cutter hurts, but Drysdale could be that elusive top-pairing right-hand shot defender that the team has been trying to find for years now. He is still just 21 years of age and just signed a very team-friendly three-year deal that will pay him just $2.3 million annually until the end of the 2025-26 season. On top of that, Philadelphia also gained another second-round pick in the 2025 draft, which they could use to select one of many exciting players like Zachary Morin, Owen Griffith, Aiden Lane, or my personal favorite, Jordan Gavin, who all are currently predicted to still be on the board at that time.