Photo Credit: Luleå Hockey
Noel Gunler is coming off of a strong campaign with Luleå HF. In 45 games played, the Luleå, Sweden native tallied four goals and nine assists. While the offensive numbers might not be as high as junior players in Canada or the United States, we need to keep in mind that there are several factors in play that make it more challenging for a prospect like Gunler to have comparable numbers to Marco Rossi, Jack Quinn, Dawson Mercer and others. One, in the SHL, more than often, players with seniority get more minutes and that means that players who are playing in the SHL for the first or second season end up getting less ice time. Several of the other Swedish draft prospects playing in the SHL this season like Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz averaged similar minutes to Gunler. Second, you have to keep in mind that the SHL is not a junior hockey league. It is the highest level of hockey being played in all of Sweden. Prospects in the SHL need some time to get their feet wet. It is similar to how prospects get their feet wet in the NHL. We rarely ever see a team throw a rookie prospect on their first or second line. They need time.
Aside from his play in the SHL this season, Gunler did suit up for Luleå HF J20 (SuperElit) and tallied six points in four games. While he had success at the junior level and at the SHL level, Sweden did not have Gunler as part of their World Junior team. But, Gunler was not the only promising Swedish draft prospect who did not make the cut. Zion Nybeck of HV71 and Emil Andrae of HV71 were not part of Sweden’s World Junior team. The only draft eligible prospects who appeared for Sweden at the World Juniors were Holtz and Raymond.
D.O.B – October 7, 2001
Nationality – Sweden
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Height – 6’2
Weight – 174 lbs
Position – Right Wing/Left Wing
Handedness – Right
Gunler’s Style Of Play
When you flip on a Luleå game and catch #8 Noel Gunler, you see how quickly he can accelerate. Gunler’s speed is one of the best in the 2020 NHL Draft class. He can light up the jets pretty quickly. He favors his left foot when he starts picking up speed.
Not only is Gunler quite fast and possesses a great stride, but his crosses and edge work are in fine form as well. At times, his turning radius might appear to be a bit on the bigger side, but he has the ability to complete tight turns from time-to-time. It is just on occasion where Gunler might take a bit of larger turn.
One of the attributes that Gunler excels at is his shot. His accuracy is excellent and when I say excellent, I mean that Gunler will be an accuracy specialist at quite a few NHL All-Star Game competitions. When Gunler is shooting, he will more than often rely on his wrist shot and does a great job at pin-pointing the best corner or angle for success.
While Gunler is a strong shooter, his passing is nothing to sneeze at. Even when completing a button hook turn, Gunler is still capable of firing a crisp cross ice pass to a defender rushing into the offensive zone. He can complete a swift saucer zone exit pass into the neutral zone and a lethal swing pass when in transition.
But, there are instances in which Gunler’s decision-making leads to some inaccurate passing. For example, there are sequences in which Gunler is on a 2-on-1 and the pressure is tight and instead of passing in the slot to his teammate, he tries to go too deep into the slot and can not execute a shot or a pass due to the pressure. While that might not look too favorably for Gunler, you have to keep in mind that many prospects at his age are ironing out their decision-making. Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires gets into similar situations himself. It is all about learning from your mistakes.
From an aggression/physicality perspective, Gunler is not as aggressive as fellow draft eligible prospect, Lucas Raymond, but he is still is a reliable fore-checker/back-checker. He is not as consistent as Raymond when it comes to pressure. There are shifts in which Gunler sits back and then there are shifts where he is applying pressure along the half-wall and behind the net. In addition, when Gunler is challenging his opponent for the puck, he loves a slightly bigger gap than Raymond, but as I said Gunler is slightly weaker when applying pressure. Before I continue, that is not a knock on Gunler. There are not many prospects in this draft class that possess the high-octane pressure that Raymond will deliver from shift-to-shift.
Even though there are instances in which Gunler gives up a bit too much room, he will make up for it with tight blue-line pressure in his own zone. In the second clip that I posted, you can check out Gunler putting solid pressure on his opponent and then stealing the puck.
All-in-all, there is a lot to like about Gunler. His speed, stride and shot are his strongest components and are only likely to get better.
A mixture of Jordan Eberle, Right Wing, New York Islanders and Phil Kessel, Right Wing, Arizona Coyotes
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stats from eliteprospects.com