Kraken 2022 NHL Draft Target: Cutter Gauthier

With the fourth-overall selection in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Seattle Kraken should proudly select…Cutter Gauthier. This may be surprising to fans and pundits alike, especially considering his highest overall ranking isn’t in the top five. However, the Kraken have many needs, and he could fill several of them. 

Cutter Gauthier USNTDP
Cutter Gauthier, USNTDP forward (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

In this piece, I’ll take a look at what he’s done leading up to the draft, examine his potential fit with the Kraken and discuss who should get the nod between himself, David Jiříček and Simon Nemec. This will be the third piece pitching top prospects for the Kraken to select fourth overall, with the first two written by THW’s Adam Kierszenblat.

Related:  THW’s FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide

This will be the first article where a forward will be pitched at fourth, as the former two were right-shot defensemen. The Kraken are in dire need of goal scoring. They were 28th in the NHL in goals scored with 213, and 30th with 32 power-play goals — just four more than the last place Arizona Coyotes. Now, without further ado, let’s enter the courtroom and build this case. 

Cutter Gauthier’s Mini Prospect Profile

Interestingly, Gauthier was born in Sweden while his father Sean was finishing up his own professional hockey career, though he’s always played for the United States. Something that should really catch the eye of Kraken general manager Ron Francis is how explosive of a skater he is. Couple that explosivity with a deadly wrist shot, and it’s no surprise that his numbers emulate that of a “Cy Young” winner in Major League Baseball (MLB). He’s often scored more goals than assists in a season, as they would have more wins than losses.

Additionally, he’s a reliable two-way player and can also be an option on both the power play and penalty kill. As mentioned before, the Kraken power play struggled, and just converted on just 14.6 percent of chances, 29th in the NHL. Likewise, their penalty kill was 31st at 74.9%. Especially as he continues to grow, starting with spending the 2022-23 season at Boston College, he’ll become even more valuable in all situations. 

One thing that Francis did well with the expansion draft was selecting positionally versatile forwards. Gauthier would be no exception. While I compared him to New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider in his THW Prospect Profile, he saw an extended amount of time as a center this season. 

Related: Cutter Gauthier — 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Before we go any further, it’s only fair to discuss where he needs to grow as we discuss where he excels. He has a willingness to shoot from anywhere, but that isn’t always a good thing. If he takes a bad-angle shot and misses, ringing it around the end boards and helping the opposing team break out, it could prove detrimental, especially late in a close game. He can be a bit careless with the puck at times and can look to be more consistent. All this doesn’t take away from the tools he possesses, nor what he’s accomplished this season. 

In 54 games with the United States Development Program (USDP), he scored 34 goals and 65 points. He then played with the team in the United States Hockey League (USHL) where he contributed 19 goals and 28 points in 22 games. He was named an alternate captain for Team USA at the U18 World Championship (U18 Worlds) and this time his playmaking was highlighted. He tallied six assists and nine points in six games. 

Examining Cutter Gauthier’s Potential Fit With the Kraken

As previously mentioned, the Kraken need a ton of help putting the puck in the net. Jared McCann led the team en route to a career year with 27 goals and 50 points in 74 games. They had two other 20-goal scorers with Yanni Gourde and Jordan Eberle totaling 21 each, but the Kraken may benefit from moving Eberle ahead of the draft. 

Related: Kraken Need to Make a Trade With the Islanders to Draft Geekie

It gets thinner after that trio, just four other players have scored 10 or more goals, including Carson Soucy as the lone double-digit goal scorer from the blue line. Though, in his 30 games before a season-ending ACL injury, Brandon Tanev contributed nine and was on pace for a career-high 25 goals. 

Brandon Tanev, Seattle Kraken
Brandon Tanev, Seattle Kraken forward (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Gauthier wouldn’t step in right away if the Kraken draft him, as he’s committed to Boston College and will be an Eagle for the 2022-23 season. However, if he has a strong year, could follow in Matty Beniers’ footsteps and see an NHL stint as the season winds down, turning pro after the season. Maybe even playoffs, if that’s not being too optimistic. He’s slotted to be playing center collegiately after spending a majority of the season playing the pivot with the USDP following an injury. 

He could be the No. 2 center of the future, or even switch to wing if Kraken brass read a previous article and trade to draft Conor Geekie. Either way, that positional versatility gives them numerous options for their future power play and penalty kill. 

David Jiříček, Šimon Nemec or Cutter Gauthier?

The Kraken really can’t go wrong with the fourth-overall selection. Taking David Jiříček or Šimon Nemec, as Kierszenblat detailed, will fill a very big need from the blue line; right-shot defensemen. Their team defense needs to drastically improve. It’s even more important now that last season’s primary backup Chris Driedger will miss a ton of time following a torn ACL

“While both players fill that right-side defensive need, Jiříček looks to have a higher potential in the long run. While Nemec is the more offensive option, Jiříček is the more well-rounded prospect as his overall defensive game is stronger.”

-Adam Kierszenblat from “Kraken 2022 NHL Draft Target: David Jiříček

However, the opportunity to have a one-two punch up the middle with Beniers and Gauthier is one that should be strongly considered. Even if Gauthier ends up on the wing, he’ll drive play offensively and be responsible defensively. He could really help solidify a top-six that saw some players at times maybe playing a bit above their most effective roles just to fill that need. 

Related: 2022 NHL Draft’s Top 10 Left Wingers

This is a big draft for the Kraken in helping further build themselves for the future. They have a great opportunity to add some key components to their developing core. While Beniers is a clear-cut favorite to be the face of the franchise, it’s never a bad thing to bring in young talent with high upside to grow in tandem and establish chemistry that will lead the team forward for years to come. While many pundits will say Jiricek and Nemec are the favorites to go fourth, Gauthier shouldn’t be slept on and should be strongly considered by the Kraken. 

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