If you haven’t been paying attention somehow, the Flyers shocked Philadelphia with a blockbuster trade. They sent 2022 first-round pick Cutter Gauthier to the Anaheim Ducks for Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round pick.
After an impressive World Juniors tournament that culminated in a gold medal for the USA, Gauthier’s value was at its highest. But why did the Flyers trade a prospect that they were building their team around? That’s where it gets a little confusing.
The clearest message is that Gauthier had made it known to the Flyers that he did not intend to ever play for them. It was a change of heart from when the team first drafted him. He was said to be excited and felt that he was built to play in the city of Philadelphia. A few months later, something changed.
After the Men’s World Championships in 2022, Gauthier then flipped the script and told the organization that he no longer wanted to be there. What could have changed in just a few months? There were more than a few rumors that blew up in the minutes and hours after the trade.
The biggest rumor involved former Flyers’ forward Kevin Hayes. Hayes was somewhat of a mentor and friend to Gautheir as the two had Boston connections, both attending the same college. Gauthier talked about Hayes and what he had meant for him. This specific rumor blew up when Anthony San Filippo of Crossing Broad mentioned talking to a source in the organization and said that Hayes had his fingerprints all over this move.
Hayes was forced to defend himself on multiple occasions as fans flocked to him with hate messages, and apparently even death threats toward him and his family.
“It’s 100 percent false,” Hayes said in an interview with Blues reporter and Athletic writer Jeremy Rutherford. “I don’t know where (SanFilippo) got his information from. At first, it didn’t really seem like a big deal. But just the s— that’s come from the aftermath, people with death threats, people want my family dead, people happy my brother’s dead, it’s just crazy stuff coming out. … Not a single aspect of what I’ve done had any implications on this kid’s decision.”
Hayes also spoke to Blues reporters, as well as Charlie O’Connor of PHLY Flyers and reiterated that he was not involved in Gauthier’s decision.
Other rumors included Gauthier not liking the direction of the organization and them having a “rookie GM. Danny Briere took over as the Flyers’ GM toward the end of last season, which came a few months before Gauthier’s change of heart. There was also the thought that he was not a fan of John Tortorella’s coaching style. That one was hard to believe as he spoke highly of a meeting with Tortorella in April of last year.
The one that has potentially the chance to be true is that Gauthier wanted to sign his ELC after his freshman season at Boston. The Flyers were not willing to do so because his contract bonuses would put them even further into an overage situation. Elliotte Friedman was the one who came forward with this. Though, Kevin Kurz of The Athletic reported that it was Gauthier’s head coach that convinced him to return for a sophomore season.
There could be many reasons that Gauthier changed his mind. Unfortunately, it appears we may never know what happened. Gauthier’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, spoke with NHL insider Pierre LeBrun on TSN’s Insider Trading.
“It’s a private issue between the player and his family,” Overhardt told TSN’s Pierre Lebrun. “We definitely had conversations with Philadelphia, we had very respectable conversations with Philadelphia about it, we’ve chosen just to take the high road and leave all that information private.”
This will likely only fuel the rumors that are out there and more are certain to come. However, it doesn’t look like Gauthier, his family, or his agent are going to make it public on why he spurred the Flyers.
As John Tortorella said after Monday night’s game, the focus should be on the new addition of Drysdale. He is expected to make his Flyers’ debut against the Canadiens.