There isn’t a lot of leverage for any player who gets drafted in our four major sports. Football players aren’t going to sit and do nothing for a year. High school baseball players, or even college juniors, can go back to school. Basketball players don’t have even that much.
But hockey players in the NCAA do have some leverage, if they’re patient, they can do all four years at college and then hit free agency, escaping the clutches of the draft system. They can point out the silliness and unfairness of being told where they have to work.
Which is apparently what Cutter Gauthier, the fifth pick in the NHL draft by the Flyers just 18 months ago or so, wanted to do. Starting last summer, Gauthier made it clear to the Flyers that he didn’t want to play in Philadelphia. He did that by no-showing at their prospects camp last summer, he did it by not taking their calls, and he did it at the World Juniors by refusing to meet with team brass Daniel Briere and Keith Jones.
So on Monday, the Flyers faced little choice to but to trade him to Anaheim for young d-man Jamie Drysdale and a second round pick. Whether Gauthier wants to be in Anaheim any more than Philly we can only guess, though they must have some inkling he does.
It’s a pretty rare deal. Kids taken in the top five of the draft almost never make it clear they won’t go where they’re taken. The most famous example is Eric Lindros, who refused to play for the Quebec Nordiques. That team later built a Cup winner out of the haul they got for trading Lindros to Philly, of all places. Still, Lindros told the Nordiques before the draft he wouldn’t play there and they took him anyway.
Later-round picks have done the same. Kevin Hayes wouldn’t sign with Chicago. Adam Fox wouldn’t sign with Calgary or Carolina before heading to New York in free agency. But a top five pick? Borderline unheard of. Perhaps it should happen more often, often enough that the league would have to rethink the draft as a whole. That’s a pipe dream, though.
No one’s sure why Gauthier didn’t want to be a Flyer, He hasn’t said. Maybe he’s not an East Coast guy. Maybe the thought of playing for John Tortorella didn’t appeal. Maybe he still wants to choose where he plays. His reasons are his reasons. Strangely enough, Flyers fans got wind of an idea that it was Hayes, a fellow BC player just like Gauthier, who persuaded him to avoid Philly after his four years there. Hayes wasn’t having that.
The Flyers tried to act, well, very Flyer-y as is their way, bleating loudly about “if you don’t want to be a Flyer you won’t be a Flyer.” Or having their coach act oblivious. There’s no reason to throw dirt on a kid, but that’s what their fans want to hear instead of considering the ridiculousness of the draft system. Gauthier certainly owed the Flyers a little more professionalism than just hiding like a kid who accidentally pushed dad’s car out of the driveway and down the street.
Much like college football players sitting out bowl games, preeminent college hockey players trying to have more of a hand in where they play could start to be a trend. Gauthier is first through the wall, but he very likely won’t be the last.
The difference between Aaron Rodgers & LeBron James,?
We’ve all had enough of Aaron Rodgers, but this pretty much gets to the point:
And with their consolation pick, the Cubs select . . .
The Cubs finally came to this offseason and made a move, taking the Yoshinubu Yamamoto consolation prize which is Shota Imanaga, a 30-year-old pitcher who is also crossing over from Japan. Imanaga has some impressive numbers, carrying a sub-3.00 ERA in the NPB as well as striking out over 10 hitters per nine innings as well.
The blinking red light is that Imanaga’s home runs allowed greatly dwarf any other pitcher that’s come over, and the NPB is not nearly as homer-happy as MLB. Imanaga could be turning around as much as Lance Lynn if he’s not careful. He projects as a third or fourth starter, which the Cubs certainly need. Though they could also use a #1 or #2 starter to dovetail with Justin Steele, a 1st baseman, a third baseman, and maybe even a center fielder. Good thing they waited this long.
Ah, Chelsea . . .
Let’s cap off our morning by watching Chelsea find more ways to not score:
Goal’s down here, Cole.
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