Welcome to another installment of 'Names To Know', a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.
With two of the first dozen selections — picks #6 and #12 overall — the Blue Jackets have a chance to grab two players (for the second straight draft) that could become mainstays on the roster for years to come. There are plenty of names to be considered ahead of the July 7 date in this wide-open draft.
The Blue Jackets could go in several different directions come July, but one option that might be appealing is Cutter Gauthier. He has the frame of a power forward, coming in at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs., and at only 18 years old, he will likely beef up over the next few years.
As with a lot of guys in this draft, Gauthier's prospect rankings have been all over the board this season, being ranked as high as number three (NHL Central Scouting NAS) and as low as number 32 (Dobber Prospects). However, he has risen up the boards and consolidated his rankings as of late.
Take Dobber Prospects for example. He was the 32nd ranked prospect in their midseason rankings and has climbed up to the 11th spot in their April rankings. Here is what they had to say at the midseason.
AJ Gidaro: Gauthier is a versatile forward that plays with pace. He is an agile and explosive skater with the skill to outmaneuver opponents in transition. In the offensive zone, Gauthier is a dual threat. He boasts a powerful and accurate shot he uses off the rush, and finds seams through the slot to create scoring chances. Defensively, Gauthier reads play well, often forcing turnovers out of opponents. He pressures attackers with his stick and has the step to retrieve loose pucks. If an NHL team is looking for a safe bet with some upside in the late first or early second round, they may look no further than Cutter Gauthier.
DobberProspects Midseason Rankings
And this is what they had to say after the season was over.
Alexander Annun: The points are finally starting to come for Gauthier and it was always going to be a matter of time given his skills and the style of play he brings to the ice. As a result, he has since climbed his way to just outside the top-10 of our rankings after barely cracking the top-32 back in December.
Gauthier is one of the hardest-working players on the ice, with a propensity for getting in on the forecheck with speed and looking to get physical with the defense to force turnovers. He is a solid distributor but the timing of his playmaking is the standout part of his passing game as he holds onto the puck and waits for play to develop instead of rushing the pass. Gauthier’s physical presence in the attacking end earns him space in front of the net where he fearlessly looks for rebounds, and his gritty play along the boards helps to sustain possessions. He has decent hands and can attack players head-on by beating them with a combination of his size, speed, or skill in a bid to fire off his shot which happens to be his best attribute.
Gauthier’s well-rounded game offers something for every team to find appealing in a potential first-round pick, providing the projectable floor of a top-nine forward with the potential to grow into a top-six scorer.
DobberProspects April Rankings
Gauthier's professional career has consisted of two seasons in the U.S. National Development Team program. In his first season (2020-21) he had a stat line of 12-9-21 and a +/- of -28 in 32 games. He progressed quite a bit this past season, with a line of 19-9-28 and a +/- of 14 in 22 games. His increased playmaking and goal-scoring ability started to show up on the stat sheet, down the stretch this season.
The Swedish native also spent a couple of seasons with the U17 and U18 National Teams, respectively. In each of those, as well as the seasons he spent with the USNDT, he has had more goals than assists. Although his ability has grown in both his playmaking and goal-scoring, he is known as a score-first power forward, so much so that he led the USNDT in goals.
Gauthier will be playing for Boston College in the upcoming 2022-23 season where he will look to further develop his skills and toughness while waiting to sign with whichever team drafts him.
Most scouts believe that Gauthier has the skill to turn into a top-six forward in the NHL. It is believed that he will most likely play left wing at the next level, but a potential bonus is that he has spent time at the center position and therefore may be able to slot in wherever a team may need him.
Perhaps his biggest asset, outside of the extra goals, is the physicality that he will bring to the line he plays on.
This is what Paul Zuk of Smaht Scouting had to say about Gauthier's physical style of play. A sentiment that has been echoed by many other evaluators.
"There’s a certain level of physicality that a true “power-forward” brings with his game, and Gauthier is certainly capable of that. He’s able to consistently out-muscle attackers off the puck in the defensive zone, or he can force an offensive zone turnover for the opposing team by delivering a booming bodycheck."
With his physical prowess and penchant for goal scoring, Gauthier looks to be most suited to play alongside at least one other playmaker in order to maximize his value.
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