Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Noel Gunler.
Last season, Noel Gunler got in 15 games at the SHL level, putting up two goals and three assists for five points while playing in the men’s league as a 17-year-old. This year, he played in 45 games for Lulea HF, putting up four goals and nine assists for 13 points. He got his chance after ripping up the J20 league. Gunler scored 27 goals and 19 assists for 46 points in just 31 games last season. He led the North Division in both goals and points He also added three points in three playoff games. This year, he played in four J20 games, putting up six points.
Gunler also played for Lulea in the Champions Hockey League. In 11 games, he scored four goals and two assists for six points. He has had limited experience with Swedish National Teams, as there is plenty of competition for spots. Gunler played in the 2017 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge but did not score a point in five tournament games. He also played in some smaller tournaments and exhibition games for the U-18 team last year but did not make the team for the IIHF Under-18 Worlds.
Noel Gunler Scouting Report
Right Wing/Left Wing — shoots Right
Born October 7th, 2001 — Lulea, Sweden
Height 6’2″ — Weight 176 lbs [188 cm / 80 kg]
Gunler is a very good skater but there are still some areas where he could improve. He is very quick to get off the mark, generating excellent speed and acceleration in his first few steps. This helps him win plenty of races to loose pucks. His top speed is also high-end, and he can take opponents wide, drop his shoulder and cut to the front of the net. Gunler has strong agility and good edgework. He can avoid defenders with his quick changes in direction. He is a bit slight though, and he can improve his lower-body strength. This would improve his balance and help him to be stronger on his skates.
Gunler is a pure, natural sniper. He can score in a variety of ways. He has a heavy wrist shot with a good release; an excellent slap shot and one-timer; a quick and accurate snapshot; a strong backhand; the hands to deke a goaltender as well as to put the puck through tight spaces; and the hand-eye coordination to get tip-ins and rebounds. He is a smart player who finds open spaces in the defence when he does not have the puck. On the power play, he loves to set up in the left circle and utilize his one-timer ala Alex Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos. Though he can also control the puck in this area, walking in for a wrist shot, or making a pass through a seam to set up a teammate.
Gunler is also a good playmaker. His quick hands change angles and create passing lanes. He is strong on the puck and protects it on the cycle, with the patience to slow down the play and allow his teammates to get open. Once they do he has the vision to find them and the skills to get them the puck. Gunler could stand to be stronger though. He can sometimes get outmuscled on the boards or get knocked around in the slot in front of the net. This area of his game should improve as he matures and gets stronger.
Gunler is a bit inconsistent in his own zone. There are times he is moving his feet, gets himself into good positions, and helps to cut down passing lanes and create turnovers. There are other times when he simply needs to work harder in the defensive end of the ice though. He can puck watch at times, or fly the zone early looking to create an offensive opportunity. He will need to become more disciplined as he matures going forward.
Projection and Comparison
Gunler has the potential to be a top-line winger in the NHL and an effective point producer. He is a year or two away from the NHL at a minimum though. He needs to work on getting stronger, as he has good height but really needs to add muscle to his frame at this point. Gunler could also stand to improve his defensive consistency or he will drive his coaches crazy at the next level. This is probably the reason that he has not been part of a lot of Swedish national teams in his age group. However, the potential here is high if a team is willing to wait for him. Gunler’s game is reminiscent of Phil Kessel. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Noel Gunler that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Noel Gunler Main Photo:
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – DECEMBER 03: #8 Noel Gunler of Lulea HF warms up prior the Champions Hockey League match between Lausanne HC and Lulea HF at Vaudoise Arena on December 3, 2019, in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo by RvS Media / Monika Majer / Getty Images)