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 Kaiden Guhle.
The younger brother of Anaheim Ducks defenceman Brendan Guhle, Kaiden Guhle was the first overall pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft. In his rookie season in 2018-19, he was part of the WHL Champion Prince Albert Raiders. Guhle put up three goals and 17 points in 65 games that year. He added three assists in 23 playoff games and appeared in three games at the Memorial Cup. However, as a 16-year-old WHL Rookie, he had limited ice time on the deep Raiders team. This season, Guhle’s responsibility has gone up, and he had a breakout campaign. Guhle scored 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points in 64 games for the Raiders before the season was cancelled.
Guhle has also been a player for Team Canada on the international stage. He was the captain of Canada Red at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, putting up three assists in six games. He also played at last summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Guhle was an alternate captain, scored one assist in five games, and helped Canada to win a silver medal. He also appeared in the CHL Top Prospects Game. Guhle was one of the most impressive players in the game, playing solid defensively and also scoring the game’s opening goal.
Kaiden Guhle Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born January 18th, 2002 — Sherwood Park, Alberta
Height 6’2″ — Weight 186 lbs [188 cm / 84 kg]
Guhle is an excellent skater, with very good speed and acceleration in both directions. He is able to push the play offensively as well as pinch in at the opponent’s blue line and still get back to his position in the defensive end. He also has very smooth pivots, allowing him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Guhle shows good agility and edgework as well. He is already strong on his skates and has good balance. As he matures and increases his lower-body strength, this area of his game should continue to improve. He will also be better on the boards and in front of the net, areas that he already excels.
Guhle is a strong stick handler. He can go back in his own zone, retrieve pucks, avoid forecheckers and move it up the ice. He can make a good first pass to start the rush. Guhle can also lead the rush through the neutral zone and has the passing skills to create chances. He can also play the point on the power play. Guhle has decent vision and can put the puck through seams and passing lanes. However, Guhle could stand to be a bit more creative in order to maximize his offensive potential.
Guhle also has a good wrist shot and slap shot from the point. He does a good job of keeping his shot low and on the net, getting it through traffic and creating rebound and deflection opportunities for teammates. He also likes to sneak in from the point and let go of his wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circles. His agility allows him to walk the line and open up shooting and passing lanes. His quick hands also allow him to subtly change angles and create that lane.
While Guhle can bring offence, the bread and butter of his game is his defensive play. His strong skating leads to excellent gap control and he is very difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. If attackers come down his side of the ice with their heads down, Guhle can throw a big hit but he is disciplined and does not get himself out of position looking to make that hit. He also plays physical along the boards and in front of the net. Guhle is a smart positional player who cuts down passing lanes with his long stick and is willing to block shots. He anticipates well and creates turnovers which leads to a quick transition.
Projection and Comparison
Guhle has the potential to be a top-pairing defenceman and play big minutes in the NHL. If he reaches his potential, he can be an elite shut down defender. His offensive game may not reach that level, but he can still move the puck and play on the second unit of a power play. Guhle should spend another year or two in the WHL. He can dominate defensively at the junior level and this will give him the opportunity to continue to grow offensively. Guhle should also be in the running to play for Canada at the World Juniors. His game is reminiscent of Colton Parayko, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Kaiden Guhle that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Kaiden Guhle Main Photo:
KENT, WASHINGTON – OCTOBER 22: Kaiden Guhle #6 of the Prince Albert Raiders controls the puck during the third period of the game against the Prince Albert Raiders at accesso ShoWare Center on October 22, 2019 in Kent, Washington. The Seattle Thunderbirds top the Prince Albert Raiders 3-1. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)