Flyers

A big center on the rise should have Flyers' attention at No. 5

Flyers

Brent Flahr quipped that he hopes the Flyers won't be picking this high again in a long time.

Nonetheless, though, Flahr and his amateur scouting staff are confident about landing a really good player around the top five of the 2022 NHL draft.

"Yeah, I think we’ve gone over the players that we feel are the best five and we’ve gone over different scenarios of what we think the teams in front of us will take. There are still some unknowns, though," Flahr said June 10 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "But I think we’re happy with the number of different players at the position, probably even a couple of more further. Depending on how it falls, maybe you trade back a couple of spots even or look to trade up. We’ll see how it goes."

Following a 25-46-11 season, the Flyers are slotted at No. 5 overall in this year's draft, which will be held July 7-8 at Bell Centre in Montreal. The Flyers have six total selections. The first round kicks off at 7 p.m. ET Thursday, while Rounds 2-7 follow Friday starting at 11 a.m. ET.

"I think it’s been well-documented, there’s no Connor McDavids in the draft or whatnot. But there is some depth early in the draft," Flahr said. "There’s different positions — there’s a few centermen, there’s a couple of right-shot defensemen with skill and size, there’s a couple of scoring right wingers, there’s a power winger.

 

"There are some interesting players early. I think it’s going to be a really interesting first round. … It’s going to be surprising I think to a lot of people, I think there could be a lot of surprises in the early going of this draft."

More: With potential for 'surprises' or a trade, Flyers have big opportunity at No. 5

Leading up to July 7-8, we're breaking down draft targets for the Flyers at No. 5.

Next up:

Cutter Gauthier

Position: Center/winger

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 200

Shoots: Left

Team: USNTDP

Scouting report

With his size and desire to play center, Gauthier has been considered a riser by various draft experts.

The Boston College-bound 18-year-old can find the back of the net and facilitate. Gauthier finished second on the U.S. national team development program under-18 squad with 34 goals through 54 games this season. He collected 31 assists and had a plus-33 rating.

"There are some scouts who think he could play in the league as soon as 2022-23 but would be fine if he spent more time developing in college, especially since he needs more reps at center," DailyFaceoff.com's Chris Peters wrote earlier this month. "He does a lot of things well and now that teams are convinced he can be a center at the next level, don’t be surprised to see him go especially high in this draft."

Gauthier is the third-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. Peters has him pegged as the sixth-best player in the draft, while The Athletic's Scott Wheeler has him down at No. 18.

Some feel Gauthier could be a top-five pick. Others see him just inside or outside the top 10.

"He will go top 10, but I would personally have reservations on him there," an anonymous executive told The Athletic's Corey Pronman. "The tools are awesome, he’s big, fast, strong, can shoot it as well as anyone but his brain concerns me."

Fit with Flyers

There's no doubt the size and center elements of Gauthier should intrigue the Flyers.

He's got a smooth but powerful stride. Couple that with his potential to protect and score the puck, and there's plenty to like if you're the Flyers.

Center is a premium position and the club hasn't taken many pivots over the last three years. The Flyers will draft the best player available at No. 5, but the fact that Gauthier is set to play center doesn't hurt.

"We have a few needs, especially when you’re looking two or three years down the road," Flahr said about replenishing at certain positions. "We haven’t drafted many centermen in recent years. … We’d certainly look there, left wingers. But things change. We’re not drafting these guys to necessarily play next year. So I think if there’s a dramatic difference, we’ll go best player. Doesn’t matter where they play. All being equal, maybe we would go position."

 

Two of the Flyers' last four first-round picks have come out of the USNTDP: Cam York (2019) and Joel Farabee (2018). The club also knows the Boston College program well.

The Flyers have wanted to be tougher to play against. Gauthier could have a chance to add to that in the future.

More targets

Will Flyers land best defenseman in draft at No. 5?

• Savoie, a dynamic skater and scorer, can boost Flyers' talent level

• Could Flyers draft another Finnish winger with exciting tools?

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