Photo Credit: Lucas Chudleigh / Apollo Multimedia
Kaiden Guhle is the brother of Anaheim Ducks defensive prospect Brendan Guhle. Just like his brother, Guhle is left-handed defenseman who plays a very physical rugged game. Not only are both brothers physical defensemen, but they also both played junior hockey for the Prince Albert Raiders.
This past season, Guhle mustered up 11 goals and 29 assists in 64 games played. When you compare his point totals to his first full season in the WHL (2018-2019 season), you will see that he managed to double his rookie season point total in his 2019-2020 campaign.
DOB – January 18, 2002
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Height – 6’3″
Weight – 187 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Guhle’s Style Of Play
As I mentioned previously, Guhle is a physically gifted defensemen. He delivers booming hits in all three zones and is easily the best physical defenseman in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft class.
Not only is Guhle capable of knocking you off of your stride, but he also deploys a tight gap control. Similarly to Jake Sanderson from the USNTDP, Guhle uses his stick to shield and attempt to prevent his attacker from skating towards the net with the puck. If the attacker looks the deviate from his route and pivot or spin, Guhle will not be phased. He will hang the attacker and pivot/spin as well. In two-on-one situations, Guhle is quite serviceable, he bends his knees and goes down low to create shot blocks.
While Guhle’s cap control is quite good, the one thing that I would like to see him improve upon is his gap control against speedy and strong stick-handling forwards. When Guhle has to shut down a speedy forward on a rush, he will attempt to keep up and use his stick as a buffer or lay out a check to throw the attacker off of his rhythm. This is Guhle’s go-to move with speedy or top-notch stick-handlers because his stride is shorter and his acceleration is not as fast as other draft eligible defensemen like Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters and Sanderson. So, if I’m the general manager of the NHL team that is drafting Guhle, I would gently suggest that he work with a power skating instructor to widen his stride. Guhle with a wide stride could be a deadly force.
Next, let’s talk about Guhle’s transitional play. There are moments where Guhle will move the puck from zone-to-zone, but it is not common. Instead, Guhle elects to pass in his own zone and will often complete his first pass along his red line to an available winger. With that being said, his first pass is always accurate and is a quick tape-to-tape feed.
In the offensive zone, Guhle loves to pinch, drive the puck behind the net and complete a backhand pass to a teammate to help keep the cycle alive. On the power play, Guhle is commonly used as the Raiders’ power play quarterback. Which is interesting because Guhle’s crossovers are not as a fast as Sanderson or Drysdale, so it takes him slightly longer to move laterally along the blue line. But, Guhle makes up for it with his shot. He can fire solid slap and wrist shots. But, he really lights up the lamp when being fed one-timers. Guhle can drain one-timers.
When he is not being fed one-timers, more than often he will aim for the low posts. Down the road, I would like to see Guhle work on elevating his shot from the blue line. When he is closer to the perimeter, he seems to be much stronger at elevating his shot, but from the blue line, his accuracy worsens when he attempts to elevate his shot.
If Guhle can work on his shot and work with a power skating instructor on widening his stride, he could be dominant in the NHL one day.
Dion Phaneuf, LHD, Played for the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators