It’s hard to come up with a comparable trade to the Monday blockbuster between the Flyers and the Ducks. The Flyers sent their former fifth overall pick Cutter Gauthier to the Anaheim Ducks for their former sixth overall pick, Jamie Drysdale, and a second round pick. As a change of pace from my usual daily notes, I’m going to do a thorough breakdown of this trade and how it impacts fantasy leagues this season and where it really changes things, for those of you in dynasties. This is fascinating on so many levels, so let’s get to it!
FROM THE ANAHEIM PERSPECTIVE
Pat Verbeek has shown that he isn’t afraid to take a big swing. I’ll start by talking about Gauthier solely as a player and talk about the backstory to him being available in the Philadelphia section. Gauthier was a key cog on the United States U20 team that just won the gold medal at the WJC. Gauthier is 6’3 with average NHL skating ability, which is actually a huge plus at his size. He played center for team U.S.A., but I would be shocked if he stays there for the Ducks long term. They have Carlsson and McTavish set to be their top two centers for the next decade, and even have Zegras, who I believe can play center more comfortably than Gauthier.
Gauthier’s best attribute is his shot. He has plenty of skill, but his shot is going to be elite at the NHL level. If anything, he takes his shot too much because it’s so good. That could change, but at this point, Gauthier takes a lot of long range shots and bad angle shots that will be extremely rare for him to score on in the NHL. That said, it would be great for his fantasy value, because Gauthier is capable of being a guy who puts four shots on goal per game.
He doesn’t have the same top speed, but Gauthier has some Chris Kreider to his game, given his size / skill combo. Outside of the skill being a little behind, he’s similar to Fantilli as well. There’s a very good chance that Gauthier can become a top 100 fantasy player down the line. He should sign with the Ducks once his college season at Boston College finishes and has the chance to make an immediate impact. Gauthier could make a difference in the fantasy playoffs as a streamer, but either way, he’ll be worth a middle to late round pick in redrafts next season gambling on his upside.
Given that the Flyers have Mintyukov already ahead of Drysdale, it makes this move a lot easier. It becomes even easier when they also have Zellweger and Luneau in their system. While those two aren’t at the level of prospect that Drysdale is, both of them should be good at running the power play at the NHL level, so they can easily stomach losing Drysdale. Additionally, this coming draft is extremely defensemen heavy and the Ducks will have a top pick, so they will be able to replace Drysdale with a bigger two-way defenseman that is a better fit for what they need. I would give the Ducks an A for this trade as they took advantage of Philly’s situation to get an elite forward prospect that fits better with the rest of their core than Drysdale does.
FROM THE PHILADELPHIA PERSPECTIVE
First off, Briere and Jones deserve credit for keeping Gauthier’s trade demands quiet to maximize their return. It is absolutely ridiculous that players who go to college can demand to be traded to their preferred destination because they don’t have to sign and become free agents four years after their draft year anyways. It’s one thing for Lindros to say he refuses to go to a team, but it’s not the same when a guy says “I was born to be a Flyer,” the team drafts him, and then months later refuses to talk to the team and demands to be traded. That’s a loophole that needs to be closed, plain and simple.
Given their situation, getting a player like Drysdale is about as good as they could hope for. He’s a different case than Gauthier as he’s played 123 NHL games already spread out over four seasons. That number would be much higher if he didn’t have a torn labrum that caused him to miss almost all of last season. He’s also only played ten games this season, so if there’s any worry about what Drysdale could be, it’s the fear of injuries continuing to be a problem. At this point, I’m expecting the 21 year old to get past them and to be healthy the majority of the time going forward.
He was one of the best prospects in the world two years ago, so I’m not going to let the injuries drag down how he’s viewed. As mentioned above, Drysdale has all the makings of a power play quarterback. He has elite puck moving ability along with top end speed that gives him the potential to be an offensive force. Drysdale is quite small for a defenseman which means it will be crucial for the Flyers to find him the right partner.
For this season, it will be interesting to see how much Torts plays him right away. He did say that Drysdale will play on the power play in his first game, which is crucial to any short term success. In practice Tuesday, he skated with Sanheim on the top pair. If that lasts in games, Drysdale has the chance to make an immediate impact. He’s only 11% owned, but I just spec added him on a team where I’m down Dougie and Theodore. Waivers are incredibly ugly for defensemen, so I’d look to grab Drysdale and see how things shake out. Worst case, you cut him in a week. I see him playing at around a 40 point pace for the rest of the season with the potential for a bit more if he can unlock something with the Philly power play, which currently is dead last in the league. They have enough talent that there’s no reason for them to be that bad.
Long term, I see Drysdale as a top pair defenseman, probably a #2, that can play big minutes. I don’t see any chance he’s worse than a #3 unless the injuries continue to persist. He can end up being around the 50 point mark most seasons, with upside from there if the Flyers become a top end team again. He’s not the most physical player, which does cap his fantasy ceiling a bit. I suspect that he settles in as a #3 defenseman in 12 man leagues with the upside of being a solid #2 for a long time. I’d expect one or two seasons where he pushes towards being a top 10 fantasy defenseman.
Given the situation that the Flyers were in, I have to give them an A- for a grade. Even if I prefer Gauthier in a vacuum, getting a second round pick with Drysdale is close enough to make up the gap, and they’d have been screwed if the trade demand leaked out and teams knew they were in a corner. Briere took advantage of Gauthier’s strong WJC to move him at his peak value as a prospect.
For fantasy, Drysdale is the winner here. He moved to a place where he can be the #1 offensive option on the blue line as was the expectation when he was drafted by the Ducks. Maybe Gauthier also wins long term because Carlsson and/or McTavish turn into superstars and he gets to play on a line with them, but that also could have happened in Philly with Michkov or a player they don’t have yet. His shot rate could also be better with worse linemates if he’s forced to be a gunner, so it’s a give and take situation. Either way, this is a trade that’s going to be talked about for more than a decade, and it’s going to be extremely entertaining to see how it shakes out, starting with Gauthier’s first game in Philly.
Three Point Challenge: We will do Thursday’s games per usual. You can’t select Kucherov, MacKinnon, Nylander, Panarin, Pastrnak, Miller, McDavid, Pettersson, Reinhart, Hughes, or Rantanen. I’ll go with Draisaitl against the Red Wings after a dreadful performance against Chicago, albeit in a win.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Friday recapping the action from the next two nights. Please let me know if you liked this type of post so I know if it’s worth doing again in the future for any big trades. As always, feel free to leave any comments, give any suggestions, or make any comments below. Thanks for reading, take care!