The Anaheim Ducks made a shocking trade Monday evening sending young defenseman Jamie Drysdale and their own 2025 2nd Round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for the rights to forward Cutter Gauthier. It was a move that caught both fanbases and everyone else around the league by complete surprise and could change the trajectory of both organizations over the next several years. We asked our staff for their thoughts on some of the more pressing questions to come out of this deal to see what they had to say.
Q1: WOW! That came out of nowhere! What are/were your first reactions and thoughts when you heard the ducks made this trade?
Chad: Mainly shock. With World Juniors finishing, there was a huge buzz around Cutter Gauthier, so I knew there was some trouble in paradise between his camp and Philly. I didn’t expect the Ducks to be one of the teams to pull the trigger, and I certainly did not expect Drysdale to be on the other side of the deal. Feel like this is Verbeek’s biggest acquisition outside of coaching and the draft, and it is a heavy swing.
Josh: Honestly, it was a gut check. I was shocked and bummed to see Jamie’s name in the tweet. I thought he came back this year after being injured early on and started to really play well. It’s unfortunate he got hurt two seasons in a row because he’s a really good hockey player. I wish he had more time to develop and prove himself but with the amount of young talent on the blue line within the organization, someone had to go and unfortunately it was Jamie.
Geo: Great move by Verbeek. When Verbeek was hired, I told Rusty to watch what he does on the blueline. Steve Yzerman, as well as his protege Julien BriseBois, have shown a consistent preference for size on the blueline. With Drysdale and Zellweger, the Ducks had two really gifted offensive defensemen that also ran quite small. By moving Drysdale, it leaves Zellweger as the only small defenseman in the org. And in Cutter Gauthier, they’re picking up another high upside forward that can run with the guys they’ve already collected.
Eddy: I honestly thought it was fake. One of those random photoshopped reports that everyone bites on and is quickly defined by the Elliotte Friedman’s of the world. First thoughts after I realized it was real, shock. It didn’t even register who we got in return, I just couldn’t believe Drysdale has been moved out of nowhere. No speculation, no rumors, nothing. Definitely shocked and a little sad to see Drysdale leaving Anaheim.
Rusty: Disbelief. Like I had certainly entertained the idea of trading Jamie Drysdale for forward help, to be sure, I am a bit of a mock trade merchant after all. But if I’m completely honest this type of move is so antithetical to how the organization has operated in the past that the reality of it is remarkably shocking.
Q2: After having some, if not all that much, time to digest the trade, how do you feel about it as compared to when you first heard about it?
Chad: I think my initial take was “we’re giving up Jamie?” and the shock around what seemed to be one of the faces of this team for the forthcoming future. With time to digest it, and enough time playing around with defense pairs, I do completely see how good of a trade this can turn into. I’m much more happy with this trade now than when it first came out, but the sentimental side of me that loved Jamie is still taking a gut punch.
Josh: I’m feeling much better about it. I would’ve liked to see the pick be a 3rd-5th round pick and not a 2nd but Verbeek and the staff seem to really like Gauthier. It’s a little concerning the way Gauthier and his camp handled the situation. The only other comparable situation was Jimmy Vesey and we all know how that played out. I’m hoping that was a fluke and they’re 2 completely different prospects but still something to consider. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out in the next 3-5 years but man does that boost the offensive side of the puck for the Ducks organization. The top 6 is looking nice with the potential for another addition at this year’s draft.
Geo: I’m mostly an outsider to the Anaheim group, so I didn’t have the emotional attachment to Drysdale, so my view hasn’t really changed. Though my belief in my presumed reasons behind the trade have strengthened as I’ve read up a bit more on Gauthier and reviewed the state of the blueline for the org. I like the trade and I think it works well for both teams.
Eddy: The shock subsided once I realized it was Gauthier coming back in return. This kid is special and exactly the type of forward the Ducks need in their systems. A versatile scoring forward who is dominating in the NCAA and just led the US to gold at the World Junior Championship. The sadness still lingers because I truly believe Drysdale has potential to be an excellent player, but with Zellweger, Luneau and Mintyukov waiting it makes sense to deal from a position of strength.
Rusty: I like it the more I sit with it. It’s a bold move to address a meaningful deficiency in the team’s prospect pool and at this stage of the rebuild, I don’t know that you can ask for much more than that from the front office.
Q3: After this trade was announced a lot was made of the reports that Gauthier was not going to sign with the Flyers and was unwilling to meet with Philadelphia’s brass to discuss his decision. Are you at all concerned about those reports/rumors or do you think it’s being overblown because of the fact that its Philly?
Chad: Unwilling to talk to the team is the only major red flag for me here. Look, hockey draft rights and restricted free agency is a system completely unbalanced towards teams and not the players. I could go on with a pro-union tirade for all levels of employees, but that’s not here nor there. If the kid truly hated the idea of playing in Philly, this was his best way out. Otherwise he would have to wait until he’s about 27. Some of these methods may have been brash, but think of this from the kid’s perspective. He grew up an NHL nut, hated the team he was drafted by, and with World Juniors was at the height of his game so far. This was the perfect time for him to get moved by the Flyers and he played the game to get out. I think it may be more than just a childhood hate of the team, and more organizational, but the result is still the same. Just gotta hope this was all a Philly thing and he doesn’t pull this in Anaheim.
Josh: It’s not a surprise Philly is bitter. They’re a very prideful organization and think everyone should want to go there but they haven’t been good for a long time. I think they’re making things way more dramatic than it needs to be and I hope Gaunthier turns out to be the player everyone thinks he will be.
Geo: I’m not concerned. It’s not often in a player’s career that they get to choose where they want to play. The CBA gives players the power to negotiate No Trade Clauses and Partial No Trade Clauses in contracts that involve free agency years. Players drafted out of NCAA and Europe have a lot more power to decide where they go because they can just stay with their NCAA/Euro team for four years and then pick their destination. CHL drafted players are at more of disadvantage because typically their draft+3 year would be an overage year in the CHL and there’s only so many roster spots for that, as well as it not usually being the best for development. For Philly, they go ahead and get a player that will help them right now. For the Ducks, they deal from a position of strength and get a high end forward prospect. For Gauthier, he can get to the NHL two years quicker with a team that he’s willing to sign with (assuming the reports of him giving a list to Philly are true). I have no problem with him exercising the leverage he has to go where he wants to be.
Eddy: I’m not concerned in the slightest. Verbeek wouldn’t make this deal without assurances that Gauthier would sign after his NCAA season is over. While we don’t know why Gauthier didn’t want to play in Philly, the situation seems isolated to the Flyers and some are too quick to judge without knowing the exact reason why he doesn’t want to play there.
Rusty: I think the narrative and discourse around CG’s choice has a lot more to do with the team he’s leaving than the choice itself. The Flyers organization is a proud one and combining that with a leadership group of Daniel Briere and Keith Jones seems like a recipe for this kind of fall out when something so abnormal like this happens.
Q4: The other part of this trade is Jamie Drysdale being the one to leave. What are your thoughts on Drysdale being the one to get shipped out and what about him and/or this team does his inclusion say?
Chad: Shocked it was Drysdale to say the least. He had the most chemistry with the team, fought back through an awful injury, and felt pretty cemented in the team. Out of all of the defensive prospects we had, he felt rather safe in his standing on the team. With the start of the season, it looked like Pavel was untouchable, and Luneau has been Verbeek’s teacher’s pet it seemed. Olen I thought would be getting shipped out with this core, and I still think he may have a higher ceiling than Drysdale (but a lower floor to boot). Figured if you asked the fans to mock up a Cutter trade, less than 5% of us would have even touched Drysdale as a moveable piece.
Josh: I wish it was someone else. Jamie hs NHL experience and is only 21. Yes, he’s had some unfortunate injuries but we know he’s an NHLer where as the prospects still have question marks. Will Luneau stay healthy? Will Zellweger get a shot and is he going to translate to the nhl? No one knows but we did know Jamie was one of our top 4 defenseman. I think at the end of the day, including him in the trade was a shot of confidence to those younger guys who have the opportunity to make the team. I’m hoping Zellweger ends up getting a solid chance in the NHL and we see what he can do
Geo: As I said, I think it’s more a problem of him being a smaller defenseman that probably doesn’t fit Verbeek’s vision, plus taking the risk out of his injury history. Drysdale has skill for miles, and he could very easily turn into a highly productive defenseman for Philly… but that’s part of the risk you have to take to go get a guy that was drafted 5th overall just a couple drafts ago.
Eddy: I’m definitely surprised that Drysdale is the one leaving, however he certainly fits the Flyers timeline and needs better than the rest. A RHD who is already contributing at the NHL level. I think what it says about the team is that they trust Zellweger, Luneau, Mintyukov and the rest of the Ducks young D prospects to take up arms sooner rather than later.
Rusty: It sucks. It really sucks. You have to give to get and I understand that but Drysdale was part of the young group that gave Ducks fans some hope of brighter days when things were as bad as they had been in 20 years. According to Verbeek he was someone the Flyers wanted so that makes me happy in the sense that he’s going to be valued by the organization, but it’s always going to be a bit of a bummer his time in Anaheim ended before it ever really got started.
Q5: How, if at all, does this trade affect your thoughts on Pat Verbeek and his tenure as GM so far? Did he stake his reputation on this trade?
Chad: Nuts are on the table. First big swing of a talent grab from him. Outside of the free agency acquisitions, there hasn’t been a major trade for Pat so far. Sure, we’ve had deadline dumps for picks and prospects, but this is a swing for a high end “top 20 under 20” talent. With how Verbeek (and Madden) have been hailed as draft gurus, I trust their evaluation of really young players. With their track records, I trust it and think this could be a major move to push the team over the edge in the future. But in the same way that taking Carlsson over Fantilli (the correct choice mind you) was brazen, he’s going back into it with Gauthier.
Josh: I’d say I like it. At the end of the day, he’s doing what he thinks will make the team better. He’s going after the needs of the team with the excess talent and I appreciate it. Again, only time will tell if it pans out. I think he did stake his reputation on this trade. It’s a big trade and I really hope Gauthier surpasses even his high expectations.
Geo: GM’s stake their reputation on every trade, IMO. I think it’s a bold move, and it certainly has it’s risk, but there’s a whole lot of upside. The Ducks have added a high end shooter, who transitions the puck well, and has good size that will play well in tight checking games. Defense is a work in progress, but show me a 19 or 20 year old forward that’s an ace on defense and has that kind of offensive skill, and you’re looking at a 1st overall, generational talent.
Eddy: I think once again it proves he is willing to make any trade at any time that as long as he feels it will improve the team. There’s no affinity to any one players and the boldness to move someone like Drysdale to bolster a weak spot in the organization is something you don’t see often and something Ducks fans have craved for from management for a while. He definitely didn’t take his reputation on this trade but it’s one people will follow closely over the next couple of years.
Rusty: I think he did yeah. This, as so many of Ducks Twitter have pointed out, is not a move that longtime GM Bob Murray would have ever made. By making this move Verbeek has officially defined himself as a GM who isn’t afraid to take big swings. As much as the decision to select Leo Carlsson over Adam Fantilli seemed like it would be the first real inflection point for his tenure at the helm, I think this trade pretty easily usurps that one in terms of legacy.
Q6: Does this move change anything for the team as we head into the deadline? Should it?
Chad: I think we keep Ilya now. Yeah. I’ve been pretty impressed by Ilya so far, going from seeing him as an asset flip to now thinking he may be pretty good for this young D core. We lost Jimmy at RD, so maybe we hold onto Ilya for the year? Get Pavel developed for the year before Luneau takes his spot (maybe get Helleson an extended look on the team too?) Still think the team should sell at the deadline. Henrique is a must trade, Gibson if the price is right, and Vaakanainen and Jonesy if someone gives you an asset we can actually use.
Josh: Yes, I think this is only the beginning. The season started strong but has quickly become lost. I think this is the season to maximize the trade value for the older players and go all out for one last season and then ride the development train.
Geo: I don’t think it changes much. The Ducks are still well out of the playoff picture and they’ve got a few pieces they can trade to continue to look forward to the next few years with so many good young players entering their prime seasons.
Eddy: I think the fact you now have another NHL level forward prospect who could play some games this year and certainly push for a roster slot next year could affect the Ducks willingness to move another forward at the deadline. Could we see them more willing to move Henrique or Vatrano, maybe both? I don’t think it necessarily should change anything but it’s something to keep in mind and they should definitely feel more comfortable about exploring the possibility.
Rusty: Not to be a total worm but it’s a bit of both. No in terms of they should still be looking to move on from expiring veterans and even some younger middle of the line-up players, but yes in so much as I think they can focus more on prospects than picks in those trades now. They’re going to have their own pick which should be in the top-5 and now that they’ve added another early lottery pick in Gauthier they should focus on continuing to round out the middle of the prospect pool.
Q7: Verbeek recently said that this team was about two years away from the playoffs, does this trade change that or do you think it actually lines up better with his stated time frame?
Chad: The core is not the core we thought it was. Look at who Pat is prioritizing. Luneau, Pavel, Leo, and now Gauthier. The core isn’t the flashy 22 and 21 year olds. Verbeek sees this team flying through the under 20s. The time frame doesn’t shift much now, moving down one year shouldn’t change much, and the talent being brought in is still massive. Next year Leo is off the training program, and he and Pavel have their sophomore seasons coming in. Gauthier and Luneau will be in their rookie years, Zell up with the club presumably too. The core is young and talented. Gotta bring the cradle in together now though. I think the time frame still holds, but next year will probably have a slow start with the new Ducks on the ice for their first times.
Josh: I actually think this trade makes the Ducks a more well-rounded group. The excess d-men was an issue that was going to need to be addressed as well as the lack of scoring. They didn’t do it in the draft (instead went with Gaucher) and definitely needed to address the poor offensive play. The 2 year timeline is still feasible in my opinion.
Geo: I think this lines up well. Gauthier is only 19, turns 20 soon, but is already a sophomore in NCAA hockey. In my opinion, I think it’s highly likely he signs at the end of the season. He’s got the skill, the size, the skating, and the smarts to jump right into the NHL and start contributing immediately. Even if he starts on the third line next fall, he should quickly move his way up the line-up and really be contributing when the team is ready to push for the playoffs in that two year timeline.
Eddy: I still think they are 2 years away at least, BUT adding Gauthier certainly ups my projections as to how competitive they will be in that time. Gauthier significantly helps round off a talented young group of forward prospects. You know have Zegras, McTavish, Carlsson, Gauthier and Terry to go along with LaCombe, Mintyukov, Zellweger, Luneau and Dostal. There aren’t many other teams around the league that can blast that much talent at each position.
Rusty: I think this lines up pretty perfectly with that window. Anaheim now has a second potential difference maker up front who isn’t even 20 years old yet. He’ll play out his season with Boston College and then make his way over to SoCal at the end of the season for a quick stint with the big club to get a taste. Whether or not he’s on the main roster next October will be the big question, but either way this is a move made to improve this team’s ability to compete in a few years time.
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2024-01-09 17:13:48 , Anaheim Calling