Photo Credit: Rena Laverty
Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk
While the casual fan may have been focusing on the likes of Logan Cooley and Frank Nazar when it comes to American-born forward prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft, they may want to direct their attention to another US-born forward that’s eligible: Cutter Gauthier.
Gauthier was born in Skellefteå, Sweden where his father, Sean played pro hockey for the hometown team. Eventually, the Gauthier family moved back to Michigan, where Cutter began his youth hockey career for Honeybaked. Gauthier enjoyed a few successful seasons playing for Honeybaked’s AAA programs, even racking up 71 points in 84 games across all competitions in the 2018/19 season. Following one season with Compuware’s 16U AAA squad in 2019/20, Gauthier caught the eye of the NTDP.
Beginning in 2020/21, Gauthier had a very successful campaign with the U17’s, tallying 58 points in 76 games during USHL/NTDP play. He also earned a call up for the U18’s for one game but didn’t register a point. This season, Gauthier has been on a tear for the U18’s, scoring at over a point per game pace as of February 28th, including an impressive 41 goals in only 54 games.
For the 2022/23 season, Gauthier is committed to Boston College, where he’ll join former NTDP U18 forward Andre Gasseau (Boston Bruins prospect) and Chicago Steel blue liner Lukas Gustafsson. Arguably the headliner for BC’s forward class of 22/23, Gauthier will be leaned on to be a key contributor on offense. Not only will BC’s Head Coach Jerry York enjoy being able to utilize a player with Gauthier’s skillset anywhere throughout his lineup, but Gauthier will also benefit immensely from the experience.
D.O.B – January 19, 2004
Nationality – American
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –194 lbs
Position – Center/Left Wing
Handedness – Left
Gauthier’s Style of Play
If you’re an NHL Scout or Front Office member and you’re looking for players who play a complete 200-foot game and be extremely effective regardless of where they slot into the lineup, look no further than NTDP forward Cutter Gauthier.
Gauthier’s ability to play a high paced, but at the same time relatively calm game is a trait which most teams will certainly appreciate, as he’s able to make the more challenging plays seem less stressful. He’s exceptionally talented with the puck on his stick, especially in the offensive zone.
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.
Alternatively, Gauthier can utilize his frame to fend off opponents while attacking in the offensive zone with a high rate of success. Whether he’s driving towards the net with speed, or simply engaging in cycling the puck down low, he can make some very slick plays with minimal time and space.
If I had to choose a word to describe his overall game, an easy choice would be “versatile”. Gauthier’s ability to slide up and down the forward lines and not skip a beat, is a testament to how unique and mature of a game he really plays. Gauthier can be relied on to play in any situation, at any time of the game, and NTDP Head Coach Adam Nightingale knows exactly what he’s going to get out of him.
When you combine Gauthier’s ability to be physical in all three zones of the ice with his ridiculously impressive skills in the offensive zone, it gets you a player who is relatively hard to come by in the 2022 NHL Draft class.
Gauthier is surprisingly agile for a player of his size at 18 years old, as he can turn on a dime, with enough lower body strength and a powerful skating stride to get him up to high speed in only a few strides. When the puck is turned over in transition by the opponent, Gauthier can quickly switch direction and begin a rush up ice, seemingly never losing a step. Gauthier is also quite strong on his edges, and is incredibly difficult to knock him off balance, especially when he’s carrying the puck.
Speaking of his skating stride, it’s one that embodies a lot of leg strength and power. Gauthier uses his long, powerful stride to effectively carry the puck out towards the boards when entering the offensive zone and maneuver his way around defenders to drive the net.
When it comes to quickness, Gauthier does have a decent amount of explosiveness. He’s able to combine the skating attributes mentioned above to generate breakaways for himself relatively regularly, which puts on display his quick feet and powerful first step.
While Gauthier is very talented in every zone on the ice, it’s his offensive ability which may draw the greatest number of eyes to his game. Gauthier plays the role of modern power-forward to a T and excels at using his speed and size to generate space in the offensive zone. Once he’s found space, he has no issue firing a puck on net from just about anywhere from the blue line in.
Speaking of his shot, it’s one of Gauthier’s best attributes to his overall game. Not only is it powerful and accurate for the most part, but he’s also able to get it off insanely quick. Gauthier tends to make goalies pay from multiple angles, but his bread and butter seems to be the left-side circle.
Gauthier’s ability to be deceptive while executing controlled zone entries is another positive aspect to his game. He can attack the offensive zone in a myriad of ways, usually combining his larger frame and quick feet to beat a defender out wide, or he can cut into the middle of the ice by stickhandling around the defending forwards and drawing opponents onto his person, allowing his teammates to enter the zone and set up.
One aspect of Gauthier’s game which has been noticeably impressive this season is his passing. Over the past couple of seasons, his film has shown he sees the ice very well and is capable to be an effective playmaker. However, this season has shown scouts just how talented of a passer he truly can be. It’s not uncommon to see Gauthier dish out 3-4 beautiful passes a game, with the potential for even more if he sees an abundance of powerplay time.
Gauthier’s relentlessness when forechecking is another aspect of his game which causes nightmares for opposing defensemen. Not only does he use his size and strength to outmuscle defenders off the puck, but he’s also very hard to dispossess while attacking the net and below the goal line.
If there’s one thing the NDTP can pride themselves on, it’s the ability to develop their players into playing a very mature and responsible game in all three areas of the ice. Much like Winnipeg Jets 2021 Draft selection Chaz Lucius, he is extremely talented at defending his own zone when called upon, although it’s not necessarily the best aspect of his game.
Whether the U18’s are hemmed in their own zone by an attacking sequence from the opponents, or simply killing a penalty, Gauthier can anticipate where the play could be heading, and gets his stick/body in the passing lanes to disrupt the attack. Not only is he successful at defending the center of the D-zone, but he’s also dangerously good at covering the perimeter.
Gauthier has seen his special teams ice-time increase over the past season, as he’s currently averaging 2:10min/game on the penalty kill. He’s able to effectively neutralize any sort of seam passes with his active stick and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line to block a shot.
Gauthier absolutely loves to engage in the physical aspect of defending when his opponents have the puck along the boards. He’s not one to shy away from making a huge hit along the half-wall, in which he can recover the puck and create some form of counterattack in the process.
As with any prospect, there are areas of their game which they may look to improve on to boost their draft stock and likelihood of making it to the next level at some point in their career. Below are a couple of areas in which Gauthier may look to brush up on.
Gauthier may look to be a little more selective with where he shoots the puck. He seems to be willing to get the puck on target from just about anywhere, but there are times when his accuracy is off. For example, if he tries to get a shot on net from the goal line, there’s a fairly high risk the puck exits the offensive zone, killing any sort of attack the U18’s may be putting on an opponent.
Somewhat of a similar point to above, Gauthier likes to take risks on the ice, especially when trying to get creative with the puck on his stick in the offensive third of the ice. While it sure does look beautiful when one of the riskier plays works out, it’s the plays that lead to an unforced offensive zone turnover that drive coaches and scouts crazy. Gauthier may look to choose the safer play over the riskier play at times, which would not cost his team possession of the puck, while at the same time, prolonging the time they have the puck in the offensive zone.
Lastly, Gauthier has shown his shift-to-shift consistency can waver a little bit. That’s not to say it’s common for him to take shifts off, but it may be noticeable to some where he may not be going 110% every time he sets foot on the ice. While it’s quite common at this age and development level, it may be an aspect of Gauthier’s game he’ll look to develop further before making the jump to Boston College in the fall.
Although Gauthier does have the ability to play both left wing and center, his overall game may be suited more to a left-wing role at the next level. His ability to use his stride and his speed to break out wide and fly past defenders in the offensive zone.
This season has seen Gauthier suited to a predominantly left-wing role, which has allowed him to focus on being a little more offensively inclined, as his point totals and overall play in the O-zone has certainly showed.
Overall, there is a LOT to like about Gauthier’s entire game. He can be relied upon to get the job done in every single role he’s cast into and is certainly in the minds of his opponents whenever his skates touch the ice.
If he can simply fine tune some of the “rough around the edges” aspects to his game mentioned above, as well as continue his developmental path, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the not-so-distant future.
In terms of his draft position, teams with multiple first-round picks (ARI, BUF, MTL) may be hoping Gauthier is still on the board when their other selections are on the clock. Look for Gauthier to be a mid to late first-rounder this coming July.
March 2, 2022
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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