With the team’s 16th overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens chose Sherwood Park, Alberta’s Kaiden Guhle.
So, who is this young defenseman? What might he bring to the Canadiens? And, how long before he might he be ready to play at the NHL level?
Guhle’s Talent, Potential, Character & Leadership
For any young NHL prospect, if you hope to be chosen during the first round of any NHL Entry Draft, you better have talent and potential. Guhle has both of those in spades.
Guhle is impressive both as a player and a person. First, he brings size to the ice. He’s 6-foot-3 with a big body (a large physical frame) and the kind of wide wingspan that makes him hard to get around. At the same time, Guhle plays with a bit of an attitude. As his review noted, he likes to “bully” opposing forwards. That speaks to attitude.
Guhle is also what his reviews call “stalwart,” which means he tough to move. He’s a huge presence on the blue line. Those attributes describe a lot of young defensemen who go on to have solid careers in the NHL. However, Guhle brings more.
In addition to his defensive abilities, Guhle is an amazingly good skater – not just for a big guy – but for a player of any size. His skating ability is considered one of his best assets.
Prince Albert Raiders Head Coach Marc Habscheid Lauds Him
When you hear Marc Habscheid – Guhle’s head coach with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders – talk about him, you can tell how much he likes the young defenseman as a player and as a person as well. In fact, he’s adamant that Guhle brings more than talent and potential – he also has a winning attitude and strong locker room presence.
Habscheid’s take is that Guhle is a good teammate because he respects others around him, but he’s also eager to learn and will take advice. As well, because his success didn’t come immediately he had to work hard; however, his coach noted that never once complained – not even when he was a healthy scratch. He just worked to get better. Now, as Habscheid notes, he’s good enough that “He pulls other guys with him, too.”
Habscheid adds, “That’s another thing that makes him special. He improves his teammates. It’s one thing to ask himself to take it to another level, but it’s another to pull your teammates to another level.”
Others agree. Mark Edwards, Director of Scouting for HockeyProspect.com. notes that Guhle is “a huge kid with excellent skating abilities and he competes extremely hard.”
Guhle Has Some Offensive Potential
Guhle has improved each season with the Raiders. And, last season he scored 11 goals in 64 games. Those goals included five power-play goals and three game-winning goals. As a result, Guhle showed that he could become a player with offensive potential because he has the ability to get pucks through traffic and on the opponent’s goalie.
He’s also great on the power play because he has both the agility and the strength he needs to disrupt the defense and open passing lanes for teammates.
Guhle Is a Defensive Defenseman with Size
Although Guhle has offensive potential, the key to his NHL success will largely be based upon the fact that he’s simply a big, defensive defenseman. The fact that, as his coach says, his family raised him well also makes him the kind of character player any team would like to have on its roster. And, the Canadiens are that team.
Guhle is likely not yet NHL-ready and needs more time to develop his game. He’ll also likely grow stronger and more able to take advantage of both his gifts and his size.
He will be fun to watch as he develops.
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