Report: Canadiens Were Offered Cutter Gauthier for Fifth Overall Pick

New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens
New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

With the fifth pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected defenseman David Reinbacher. But according to a rumour stated by Flyer’s reporter Charlie O’Connor, the Canadiens could have been without a pick in the first round. O’Connor said he heard rumblings that Cutter Gauthier, the Flyers' fifth overall selection from the 2022 Draft, was offered to the Canadiens in exchange for the Habs' pick.

With that draft pick, the Flyers would have selected Reinbacher and used the seventh pick to take Matvei Michkov, knowing Arizona would not select the Russian forward. Obviously, the Canadiens rebuffed that offer, opting instead to keep the pick and choose Reinbacher. The Flyers still took Michkov with the seventh pick.

Of course, this is all relevant and is circulating because of the trade that sent shockwaves throughout the NHL last night. The Flyers sent Gauthier to Anaheim in exchange for Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round pick. This was followed by the news that Gauthier had told the Flyers he would not sign with them upon leaving the college ranks. Gauthier is a teammate of Habs goaltender prospect Jacob Fowler.

Hence the swirling rumours of the Flyers trying to shop their 2022 first-rounder, which had somehow been kept under wraps. When this trade first broke, I certainly didn’t expect there to be an angle to this that involved the Canadiens, but here we are. There’s a bit to unpack here, so let’s get into the thick of it.

First, this report would confirm that the Canadiens were not the only team that would have taken Reinbacher with the fifth pick. Now, this isn’t to say the Flyers viewed him as the fifth-best player in the draft, but it would suggest they wanted him and were not as confident he would be available at seven as they were Michkov would have been. That in itself also suggests that Arizona might have taken Reinbacher as well.

It's generally a good sign that multiple teams covet a player the Canadiens ultimately drafted. That said, it’s worth mentioning that when this trade was reportedly offered, The Flyers had already been informed Gauthier would not sign with them. Thus, they tried to make the most of a bad situation. It’s hard to know if the Flyers would prefer Gauthier to Reinbacher had the circumstances been different. Still, their backup plan revolved around a player the Canadiens also coveted and eventually drafted. That feels pretty significant.

I also can’t help but wonder how seriously Kent Hughes and company considered making this move. The Canadiens need offensive talent, and Gauthier can certainly provide that, but the Canadiens still went with a defenseman. Is this a move that they would have potentially made? I do wonder.

Of course, if Gauthier wouldn’t sign with Philly, you would undoubtedly be concerned about him signing in Montreal. Apparently, the Flyers didn’t want to sign Gauthier at the end of the last season, as they didn’t want bonus overage carrying into next season. Gauthier didn’t appreciate that, and that seemed to burn a bridge. So maybe he would have signed in Montreal, but I’d still say that’s a risk. A risk the Canadiens may have felt wasn’t worth taking on.

I also would have declined, not that I don’t like Gauthier, but I’m weary of him signing, and I don’t love how his camp handled this process. Reportedly, he stopped talking to the Flyers and turned down attending their development camp this summer. He essentially gave them a cold shoulder and gave the Flyers no chance to rectify the situation. I’m all for player agency, but not in that manner.

Plus, if the Habs were going to take a forward, I think Ryan Leonard, who went ninth to Washington in the 2023 draft, could have given you offence without any potential headaches. Ultimately, we’ll see what Gauthier and Reinbacher do in their respective careers, but I’m not too concerned about this one aging poorly for the Canadiens.