Insider Trading: Why did Gauthier bail on the Flyers?
TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun join host James Duthie to discuss Cutter Gauthier’s decision to move on from the Flyers, the Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation, Shane Pinto ramping up towards his return from suspension, and more.
Duthie: We just watched Cutter Gauthier dominate at the World Juniors. Looks like a future NHL star – just not in Philadelphia. Why did he not want to play in Philly, forcing the trade to Anaheim?
LeBrun: Yes, that was the unanswered question after a bombshell of a trade. I reached out to Cutter Gauthier's agent, Kurt Overhardt, earlier on Tuesday and I asked him that very question and here's what he was ready to say.
He said, quote:
"It's a private issue between the player and his family. We definitely had conversations with Philadelphia, very respectable conversations with Philadelphia about it. We've chosen just to take the high road and leave all that information private."
And Overhardt went on to say that, you know, he's happy, that it's a good trade for both teams and that everyone can move on. I guess. Although, I can tell you also that in talking to Flyers GM, Daniel Briere, on this day, that even after the trade was done, Daniel Briere and the Flyers still do not have an answer as to why Cutter Gauthier didn't want to sign, didn't want to speak with them in the final few months. The other thing, too, is there's been speculation that maybe [Flyers head coach] John Tortorella, for whatever reason, is the reason that maybe he didn't want to play for him. I asked Kurt Overhardt that and Overhardt vehemently denied that Tortorella had any bearing on this decision, but again said it's a private matter.
Dreger: If we focus in on the Anaheim Ducks, many around the National Hockey League are wondering now what [general manager] Pat Verbeek and the Ducks might also have in store. Sources indicate that throughout varying points, there's at least been some level of interest that's been explored by the Ducks in dynamic forward Trevor Zegras. Now, for the record, he is not being shopped by Verbeek and the Ducks. This is just part of going through the development of a young player who doesn't necessarily play a complete game, but the Anaheim Ducks continue to work on that aspect. So, it's something that we're going to keep an eye on. Perhaps coming to a head in the off-season.
Johnston: Well, at this stage, the Leafs continue to exercise a lot of caution and a lot of care as Ilya Samsonov rebuilds his game, attempts to rebuild the confidence that had clearly been lost through the first part of this NHL season. At this stage, the Leafs aren't even willing to commit to whether he's going to play a game for the Marlies. He is down in the American Hockey League. He practiced with that team Tuesday after spending all of last week essentially working on his own or with other coaches in the organization, but was not part of formal practices in the AHL. And as much as I get the sense the Leafs would like to have a nice rolled-out plan for how this is going to go, that plan remains very much day-to-day, and they're making sure not to put too much on Samsonov's plate here because they're hoping at some point down the line, he's going to be an option for the Leafs again.
Duthie: Another guy working his way back – much different situation – is Shane Pinto, 10 days away from him finishing that 41-game suspension for violating the NHL sport wagering rules. What are the steps before he plays again?
Johnston: Well, he's about to ramp things up here a little bit more. Even already, he's been in Ottawa for a number of weeks skating. And as the Senators get back from the road trip this week, the plan is to have him rejoin the team at practice. He doesn't need to have his contract done in order to be eligible to do that, and so he'll get a chance to take some reps with his teammates and try to take that conditioning to another level. At some point before Jan. 21 in Philadelphia – when he's eligible to return – he will sign that deal. It does sound like a formality, that once the Sens make some roster moves, that they'll be able to sign him and shouldn't be an issue.
LeBrun: I'm not sure that a whole lot will happen before March 8, but never say never because both guys have terms on their deal. In terms of Tomas Hertl, caught up with him after the morning skate on Tuesday. ... He is just focused right now this season on helping a young team, being a good leader like Joe Thornton was for him and Patrick Marleau, so he does not have the trade deadline in mind. That's important to note because Hertl has a full no-movement clause. He said after the season maybe he'll take stock of things. Logan Couture hasn't played all year. He's inching closer to a return. It's been a frustrating year that way. He has three more years on his deal and it sounds to me like he also does not have the trade deadline in mind. But I will say this: I think he's the type of leadership player that a few teams might come calling San Jose on. So just keep that in mind with Logan Couture.
Duthie: Plenty of teams looking for defencemen as always this time of year, but crickets right now?
Dreger: Yeah, basically it's quiet. In Calgary, a source there says that really not much has changed with Chris Tanev or Noah Hanifin, dating back to September. But you see a trade like [Jamie] Drysdale to the Philadelphia Flyers and obviously the radar goes up for a lot of clubs. The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping to get more interest in their players Nick Seeler and Sean Walker, and they're still willing to retain as much as 50 per cent salary.