ANA Gauther skating at practice

IRVINE, Calif. -- Cutter Gauthier will make his NHL debut on Thursday, capping off a busy week for the Anaheim Ducks forward.

Gauthier signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Ducks on Sunday, caught a flight to Orange County on Monday, and took the ice at Anaheim's practice facility about 12 hours later on Tuesday.

This came after the 20-year-old finished his college career with Boston College on Saturday, losing 2-0 to Denver University in the NCAA championship game in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"It's been a dream for my whole life. Just getting here, I've gotten chills," Gauthier said. "Getting into the airport and getting settled here, meeting all the guys. It's been a really cool experience so far."

Gauthier practiced on the top line Tuesday with veteran Alex Killorn and rookie Leo Carlsson, the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. He likely will skate there in his debut against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; BSSD, BSSC, SCRIPPS), the season finale for the Ducks (26-50-5).

"It was pretty special playing with two sick guys," Gauthier said.

Gauthier was the second-to-last Anaheim player to come off the ice following practice. The fans at practice gave him a standing ovation as he left the ice.

"That was pretty cool. I wasn't expecting that," Gauthier said. "I saw a guy in a Boston College Eagles jersey, so that was pretty special. Great warm welcome my first day here and I can't be more thrilled to be a Duck."

Gauthier led the NCAA with 38 goals this season, and was second in points with 65 (27 assists) in 41 games and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the best player in NCAA Hockey. Boston University forward Macklin Celebrini won the award Friday.

ANA Gauthier and Carlson at practice

Gauthier scored 54 goals in two seasons at BC, and finished his college career with 102 points in 73 games. He had 10 game-winning goals this season.

"I like to play a fast-paced, high-intensity game," he said. "I like to shoot the puck, I like to make plays. I wouldn't really say I'm too one-dimensional. I like to play a 200-foot game and shut down top lines."

Selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round (No. 5) of the 2022 NHL Draft, Gauthier was acquired by the Ducks on Jan. 8 for defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a second-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.

Gauthier, who was born in Sweden but grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, led the United States to a gold medal at the 2024 World Junior Championship, tying for the tournament lead with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in seven games. He was named the best forward and was named to the tournament All-Star team.

Gauthier had 65 points (34 goals, 31 assists) in 54 games with the United States National Team Development Program U-18 team in 2021-22.

"He's obviously got a ton of talent," Killorn said. "He scored 38 goals in college, which is really impressive, so hoping his game translates well. He's got one game here (this season), not a huge sample size, but happy he gets it in."

Playing on the top line with two talented rookies, Killorn said he doesn't expect to offer them much advice.

"I don't want to stifle their creativity or skill," Killorn said. "Sometimes, defensively, if I can help them get in certain spots to help our line be more productive, I'll do that."

ANA Gauther skating at practice 3