When the 2020 NHL draft opened, everyone knew Alexis Lafreniere was going first followed up by Byfield and Stutzle, that Sanderson and Drsydale would go early and that Askarov would be gone around the tens. Most fans also believed Montreal was going forward at pick 16. They did not. Instead they drafted Kaiden Guhle out of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. Who is Kaiden Guhle?
Guhle is a big 6’3, 187lbs left handed defenseman from Sherwood Park, Alberta. He’s a mobile, rangy, continuous skating defenseman with a serious edge to his game who loves being involved in hockey plays. You hear his name often in games.
Guhle can impact games in many ways. His skating allows him to move around freely and monitors situations whether on offense or defense. His overall IQ has him involved in many offensive plays as he likes charging the slot and and other high danger areas around the net for shot attempts. He has a solid accurate release as he’s able to get a lot of them on net with good velocity and quickness. He also enjoys joining odd man rushes and creates serious space with his mobile movement to place him in an area to receive the puck for a quality scoring chance.
His puck play is also of quality. He exits zones with calmness and full control and helps his teammates get set up on rushes. He has a good stick handling ability which gives him options and is able to walk the blue line in the offensive zone quite effortlessly in order to find shooting lanes or passing lanes. His overall puck control is a serious plus for him which makes him even more valuable to his team.
Another aspect of his game that impacts plays is his physicality both during backchecks and in the cycle. He likes hitting, he hits hard and he hits often. He’s also really good at timing and gap control so he can also shut players out with his overall frame. He’s a complete defender and he never stops moving. His movement on the ice keeps opponents on edge and he times his decisions very well. He also has a long reach which allows him to keep pucks out with poke checks and often blocks and deflects pucks away from the danger areas. He’s good at what he’s asked to do – defend.
His game is mostly a defensive one but he manages to get on the stat sheet more often now than he did previously. He isn’t going to lead the league in points as a defenseman but he is a contributor for Prince Albert and he could be of bigger value should he be consistently producing. The fact that he can get the puck on net and make good first passes allows him to be a little more creative and his mobility on the ice is what can elevate his offensive side to another level. I do expect him to have a better points-per-game ratio this upcoming season than he did before.
He is an important player. He impacts games in many ways than one. He brings a lot on the ice and makes good decisions both with and without the puck. Should he continue to progress and develop into the top 4 defenseman the Canadiens expect him to become, he will be a key contributor on a nightly basis when this team is ready to contend.