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Cutter Gauthier: 2022 NHL Draft Scouting Report

Cutter Gauthier

Cutter Gauthier is a fast riser on draft boards everywhere this season. Playing for the United States National Team Development Program, that is no small task. Having to compete against teammates for draft position, he’s competing against guys like Frank Nazar, Logan Cooley, Seamus Casey and several other notable NTDP players. Yet, he has gotten his name out there amongst those other high-end teammates, in a big way. 

Cutter Gauthier scouting report

Gauthier, born January 19th, 2004 in Skelleftea, Sweden, is a big 18-year-old forward playing in the USNTDP, and is committed to Boston College for the 2022-23 season. Standing at 6’3” and 194 pounds, he is one of the biggest forwards ranked within the first-round. Not only does he bring size to the table, but he also brings versatility, being able to play both center and on the wings. In his first NTDP season, playing for the U17’s, Gauthier scored 20 goals and 17 assists for 37 points in 44 games. This season, with the U18 squad, Gauthier has recorded 30 goals and 17 assists for 47 points in 42 games. 

His size, versatility, and solid production has led to him being ranked anywhere from the mid-to-late first-round by several experts and sites. He has been ranked 12th by SportsNet and Recruit Scouting, 13th by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, 14th by Elite Prospects, 15th by Draft Prospects Hockey, 16th by FC Hockey, 20th by McKeen’s hockey, 22nd by TSN’s Craig Button, 23rd by Smaht Scouting, 28th by Puck Authority, and 32nd by Dobber Prospects. This writer has Gauthier ranked 20th. 

Cutter Gauthier deep dive

Being able to jump up the rankings like Gauthier has recently, especially on the team he plays for, doesn’t come from nothing. What does Gauthier bring to the table then?

Cutter Gauthier is one of the better skaters in the class

From a basic perspective, Gauthier is a strong skater. His straight-line speed is very good, and he has solid edgework, making him deceptive and slippery at times. His ability to change directions and complete tight turns without losing speed is a key trait to have, especially at his size. But arguably Gauthier’s best skating trait is his acceleration. His lower body strength is evident, and thanks to his strong edges, has great crossovers that allows his first few steps to be strong. However, he isn’t a perfect skater. 

From a technical standpoint, Gauthier is solid. His ankle bend is solid, as he consistently keeps his knees over his toes when skating full speed. Also, Gauthier has strong stride length, fully extending his back leg and maximizing the power behind each stride, which also aids his acceleration. However, his knee bend needs work. Gauthier needs to get lower in his stride, bend his knees a bit more. While the power in his stride is solid, thanks to his lower-body strength, it could be better with better knee bend. His top speed also could improve, from really good to great. Gauthier certainly seems like he has solid potential as a skater. 

Offensive abilities

Offensively, looking at Gauthier’s point totals and production, his goal-scoring jumps off the page. But it is a whole lot deeper than that. Gauthier is a dual-threat offensive player, with solid playmaking and goal-scoring abilities. Focusing on his playmaking abilities first, Gauthier is a very balanced passer. He has strong vision and passing accuracy, which he pairs really well. Not to mention, he has solid stickhandling, which allows him to create space for himself to buy time for a play to develop. 

Looking at three tracked games, Gauthier’s passing ability is broken down in more detail. Across those three games, Gauthier attempted 51 total passes in the offensive zone, and he completed 76.47% of them. Of those pass attempts, 15.69% were aimed at high-danger (the average is 23.25%) and 23.53% were aimed at medium danger (the average is 15.22%). His accuracy in both high-danger (62.5% completed passes) and medium danger (66.67%) were solid. His high-danger pass completion was especially good, finishing well above the average of 48.89% among 15 total forwards tracked in this class. 

Cutter Gauthier’s shooting ability

When it comes to his shot, Gauthier features a lot of power and accuracy, making him a massive threat. Additionally, Gauthier finds soft spots in coverages to open himself up for teammates to set him up in high-danger. He loves going to the net-front and posing a threat there as well, cleaning up rebounds and getting deflections. 

Looking at his shot, he has a strong and quick release. Add to that his ability to change the angle of his shot to shoot around defenders and make difficult angle shots look easier, along with his ability to create space for himself with strong stickhandling and creativity, and you have a player who doesn’t rely on teammates to set up his scoring opportunities. 

Looking at his shooting stats over those tracked games, he fired 23 total shots, with 15 of them hitting the net (65.22% accuracy, with the average at 66.21%). Of those shots, 39.13% of them came from high-danger (the average for percentage of shots from high-danger is 46.17%). That is a healthy dose of shots from high-danger, but it also shows he doesn’t rely heavily on getting shots off high-danger to find success relative to some of the other tracked players in this class. It also helps that 88.89% of his high-danger shots hit the net, better than the average of 78.58% in this class by a fairly wide margin. 

What do these numbers tell us?

These numbers tell us that Cutter Gauthier is a very smart forward that can beat teams in multiple ways, without being predictable. He does not attack high-danger very often, however, when he does, he is one of the most effective players in this class doing so. It’ll force defenders to stay on their toes and read and react to him rather than anticipate. Add to the fact that his off-the-puck abilities is also high-end, he is one of the bigger forwards in the class, and he is a very shifty and slippery skater, and you have a player that has immense offensive upside. 

Gauthier has all the skills, size, and skating a general manager could ask for in a draft, offensively. That makes him not only a safer option early in the draft, but also a very high upside option as well. 

Cutter Gauthier’s transitional abilities

Cutter Gauthier’s offense is one of the better traits of his overall game. But how well does he do with moving the puck up the ice to gain offensive opportunities? That is where some concerns lie, though he certainly has the skills to improve. When it comes to breaking out of the defensive zone, across those three tracked games, Gauthier cleared the zone with possession on 52.63% of the 19 total exit attempts in which he was directly involved. That’s below the average of 62.44%, and by quite a bit too. Not to mention, his individual zone exit percentage. In other words the percentage in which Gauthier skated the puck out of the defensive zone himself, successfully. That was down at 26.32%, below the average of 33%. 

When it came to entering the offensive zone, Gauthier was directly involved in 36 entry attempts. He successfully gained the offensive zone with possession on 58.33% of them. That’s again below the average set in this class (68%) by quite a bit. His individual zone entry percentage is a little bit more promising, at 41.67%, but it’s still just below average (48%). 

As mentioned earlier, despite the numbers, Gauthier absolutely has the skill set to improve in his effectiveness through the neutral zone. As has already been stated several times, his combination of size, fluid and slippery skating, strong stickhandling, and high end IQ all make him the type of player to greatly improve his transitional stats. However, don’t expect him to be like a Brayden Point-esque player transitionally.

Defensive zone play

As for Gauthier’s defensive zone abilities, he caps off his game quite nicely. Consistency is an issue for him from a shift-to-shift perspective. In the grand scheme of things, Gauthier has shown strong improvements from last season into this one. He has seen a bigger role killing penalties as the season has worn on. He does a very good job using an active stick to take away dangerous passing lanes to the slot. Gauthier also keeps his head on a swivel, making sure everyone is accounted for and no one is left open in a dangerous area of the ice. Additionally, he keeps his feet in constant motion. That allows him to not give his opponent much room to work with. That’s from both a passing and shooting perspective. 

However, Gauthier’s consistency is in his aggressiveness. There are times where he will smother the opposition with a great active stick, and a quickly-closing gap between the opponent and himself. But there are also times where he sits back and doesn’t pressure, opting to clog passing lanes instead. That isn’t necessarily a negative, but it allows that puck carrier to buy time for his teammates. Or it allows him to step closer to the net for a shot attempt. One such example led to a goal against while on the penalty kill. Gauthier did not pressure the puck carrier along the half wall, and that player stepped into his shot.

What is Cutter Gauthier’s potential?

Gauthier is such a promising player. He plays a fairly complete game in all three zones, with some minor things to work on throughout his game. His skating could be better with some work on his skating mechanics. Which should be done over time with NHL-level coaching. His offensive game could use some work in a sense that, while he is very effective at attacking high-danger when he elects to do so, some turnovers have led to odd-man rushes the other way. That said, his passing could use some more fine-tuning. Though it isn’t something that should be a very big issue by any means. His transitional abilities aren’t great, but he should only get better with the traits he possesses. And, finally, when it comes to his defensive game, it’s a consistency issue. This may take some time to iron out as he moves up levels through the next couple of seasons. But like with his skating, it will improve with NHL-level coaching. 

As for his upside, Gauthier looks like the prime definition of a modern-day NHL power forward. He plays a near-complete game. Additionally, he possesses the natural size and physical abilities, and has immense offensive upside. That is with strong skating to boot. He looks like a player who could evolve into a key top-six player with special teams upside. Personally, this writer isn’t sure if his offensive game will fully translate to the next level. At least, as a high-end dual-threat player. Thus making it hard to project him as a future superstar. But, Gauthier could absolutely hit that ceiling if that offensive game can translate at the highest level.

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