With the fifth-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Flyers may want to consider fast-rising forwards Cutter Gauthier or Marco Kasper.
For the first time in three years, the National Hockey League was able to stage its in-person Scouting Combine in Buffalo last week.
The event offers an opportunity for teams to meet with potential draft targets face to face. Players are also weighed, measured and put through their paces with a series of physical tests.
The Philadelphia Flyers currently hold the fifth pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, which will be held July 7-8 in Montreal.
At this point, there seem to be three forwards who have separated themselves from the pack. The top three selections, in some order, are likely to be Shane Wright of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, Juraj Slafskovky of Slovakia, and Logan Cooley from the U.S. National Team Development Program.
What happens after that is still anybody’s guess. But here are two rising stars who could catch Chuck Fletcher’s eye at No. 5.
Cutter Gauthier Shines In Testing
Already on an upward trajectory, forward Cutter Gauthier from the U.S. NTDP drew plenty of favorable attention last week in Buffalo.
Gauthier finished first among all prospects in the dreaded Wingate test. The 30-second sprint on a stationary bike is designed to measure anaerobic power, similar to a shift in a hockey game.
Measuring 6’2.5″ and 200 pounds in Buffalo, per Mark Scheig of The Hockey Writers, Gauthier also put up top 10 finishes in three other tests. He tied for fourth in standing long jump (112.0 inches), tied for ninth in pull-ups (15) and finished eighth in agility and balance, moving to his left.
“I think I did pretty solid on everything,” Gauthier told the media after Saturday’s tests. “I was pretty happy with what I did and how well I did it.”
Gauthier’s father is Sean Gauthier, a goalie whose career spanned more than two decades. He played one NHL game, but logged most of his time in the minor leagues and Europe.
Cutter was born in Skelleftea, Sweden. After Sean’s retirement, the family settled in Arizona. Cutter started his playing career with the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes, then moved to Michigan.
Ranked sixth among North American skaters at mid-season by NHL Central Scouting, Gauthier climbed to No. 3 in the final rankings. Wearing an ‘A’ at April’s 2022 World U18 Championship in Germany, Gauthier’s nine points in six games tied him for seventh in tournament scoring as he earned a silver medal with Team USA.
Though he’s listed as a left winger, Gauthier has also played center. That increases his value on draft boards.
He’s committed to Boston College next season. “They think it’s best for me to center one of their top lines,” Gauthier said. “So I’m looking forward to doing that.”
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Marco Kasper Also Excels
On the European side, Austria’s Marco Kasper also had a good weekend in Buffalo.
The 18-year-old, who played with Rogle of the Swedish League over the last two seasons, tied for third in the aerobic fitness VO2max test. He also tied for ninth in both aerobic test duration (14:1) and left-side agility, and ranked in the top 25 in several other tests.
Like Gauthier, Kasper’s father also played hockey. Peter Kasper was a defensemen whose career included five national team appearances with Austria at the World Championship and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Marco’s international hockey resume is also growing quickly, and he’s ahead of his age group. He has already played for Austria at two World Junior Championships, and was named captain for last winter’s brief event in Edmonton. Last month, he made Austria’s senior team and picked up two assists in seven games at the mens’ World Championship in Finland.
Measuring in at 6’0.75″ and 187 pounds at the Combine, Kasper is impressive academically as well as physically. After saying that he’s strong in geography, he impressed in one interview by correctly naming the capital of Australia (Canberra). As well as his native German, he’s fluent in English and Swedish, which he picked up in six months.
“I think it’s important to try to fit in and communicate,” he said at the Combine. “So I tried to learn as fast as possible.”
While he found Swedish to be quite similar to German, Kasper conceded that he has had a tougher time with his French classes in school.
Like Gauthier, Kasper has also climbed in Central Scouting’s rankings. He moved from No. 7 among European skaters at mid-term to No. 5 in the final rankings.
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