Photo Credit – Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings
Dylan Guenther is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible left winger from Edmonton, Alberta. Prior to his time with the Edmonton Oil Kings, he played for North West Zone MHA, Knights of Columbus Squires U15, Northern Alberta U15 Prep, Northern Alberta Elite 15s and Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep. During his time with Northern Alberta, he played with New Jersey Devils prospect Ethan Edwards and 2022 NHL Draft prospect Matthew Savoie.
His 2019-2020 season was his first full season in the WHL. In 58 games played, Guenther tallied 26 goals and 33 assists. He was not the point leader for 2021 NHL Draft eligibles playing in the WHL as fellow 2021 prospect Ryder Korczak had recorded eight more points than Guenther, but he was still one of the best 2021 NHL Draft performers in the WHL. Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers were not far behind.
This season, Guenther has seen limited ice time due to COVID-19. With the WHL unable to return to play, the Edmonton Oil Kings loaned Guenther to the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, where Guenther teamed up with former teammate Matthew Savoie. Guenther had appeared in 4 games for the Crusaders in which he recorded three goals and two assists. The loan expired in December of 2020.
In recent weeks, we have seen quite a few players from the WHL including Savoie, Sillinger and Detroit Red Wings prospect Cross Hanas being loaned out to USHL clubs. Perhaps, it won’t be long before Guenther is loaned out to a USHL team.
D.O.B – April 10, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –170 lbs
Position – Left Wing
Handedness – Right
Guenther’s Style Of Play
If you select Guenther at the 2021 NHL Draft, you are acquiring an outstanding playmaking winger, who possesses the ability to read defensive formations with ease and adjust on the fly. In one of his few games with the Sherwood Park Crusaders, I noticed Guenther implementing a pick and roll like strategy at the blue-line, which allowed his teammate and puck carrier Savoie to skate to the right of Guenther. Guenther used the pick and roll to distract the attackers. He pulled the attackers to him and opened up wide lanes on the right side for Savoie to exploit. He will also draw attackers towards him and flip a pass behind his back to a teammate.
Not only does Guenther come up with strategies on the fly to open up lanes, but his ability to deliver passes from range has come in handy at both the WHL and AJHL levels. Guenther can fire crisp cross ice seam passes, long range passes from the point to the corners and backhand cross ice feeds from half-wall to half-wall. He moves the puck with ease.
Speaking of moving the puck with ease, Guenther is a strong transitional winger. From a skating perspective, he normally needs three lengthy leg extensions to get to top speed. Occasionally, he will start his acceleration with a few crossovers to get his feet truly moving, but he seems to pick up the most speed on those leg extensions. Once he has generated solid speed, he shortens up on his extensions, which allows him to be more mobile in the offensive zone. When he is not completing a controlled transition, he will constantly look to feed passes towards the middle of the ice and loves to drop saucer passes down the middle for his teammates to pick up.
Sometimes, he will struggle with ill-advised passes at his own blue-line. He will have difficulty reading his teammates routes and attempt a pass before his teammate gets to the spot. It’s similar to a quarterback overthrowing his wide receiver. I have also noticed similar tendencies in the offensive zone when Guenther is in Gretzky’s office and throws an ill-advised pass towards the doorstep without a teammate in sight.
Once Guenther has rushed into the offensive zone, he will draw the opposing defenseman towards him. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that Guenther will struggle at getting past that last defender. It’s not that he swings the puck too late. But, it has more to do with how he uses his frame. Guenther is not the biggest guy out there on the ice and that will hurt him especially when facing slightly bigger defenders. I’m always careful when I say that players need to gain muscle as that can be over-stated, but Guenther needs to build up strength to swing by the last defender otherwise a decent percentage of his rushes will be silenced way before he gets a high-danger chance. With that being said, sometimes he will manage to get around that last defenseman but fail to grab possession of the puck immediately after swinging the puck around.
Aside from beating the last defender, there is a lot to like about Guenther’s play in the offensive zone. He is puck hungry and it shows on the forecheck. Guenther uses solid inside and outside edges to turn on a dime when he is puck hunting. While he is not the most physical player on the ice, he can become aggressive and look to execute checks along the half-wall to eliminate the opportunity for the opposition to create a breakout pass and get the puck out of the zone.
From a shooting perspective, Guenther enjoys one-timers. He will find open ice in the offensive zone, call for the puck and drill one-timers in the back of the net with good precision and accuracy. But, he is not a one-dimensional shooter, he will get in down low and has shown that he can elevate backhand shots at the doorstep. So, he can draw the goaltender closer and lower, but at a drop of a dime, he will use his backhand to burn the goaltender on the top right of the net. When advancing towards the net, if it seems like he is over-skating the puck, he has shown that he will utilize his skate to kick the puck to his stick to preserve the opportunity.
During his short stint in the AJHL, I noticed that his defensive play was a bit slow at times. Sometimes, he came into the zone too late or was slightly late to put pressure on an attacker. But, in the WHL, he has displayed good defensive positioning as he shifts back and forth from defending the point to defending down low. Guenther will also use his frame and push the attack towards the boards to limit access to the net. He will also stick lift and try to catch an attacker by surprise at the blue-line in an attempt to stop a controlled zone entry. The only area for improvement for Guenther in the defensive zone is to try to match the physical play that he implements in the offensive zone but in his own zone.
Kyle Connor, Left Wing, Winnipeg Jets
Like Connor, both wingers know how to read defenses well and adjust on the fly. They both possess strong power skating and the ability to thread the needle and score goals from all over the offensive zone. Connor similarly to Guenther did struggle at times with his physicality during his junior hockey days.
Top Six Winger (NHL).
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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