Exceptional status rookie Connor Bedard took the WHL by storm with 1.87 points per game as a 15-year-old but that scoring rate was bested by one player in 2020-21: Dylan Guenther.
A hard-shooting right-hander, Guenther is one of the most offensively gifted forwards in the 2021 draft class and should find himself on an NHL power play very soon.
Here’s everything you need to know about Edmonton Oil Kings star Dylan Guenther.
Age: 18 (April 10, 2003)
Weight: 181 pounds
Current team: Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Makes most of opportunity
The COVID-19 pandemic meant Guenther only appeared in 12 WHL games and seven games at the under-18 world championships this season, but he made the most of that limited opportunity. Guenther scored 12 goals and 12 assists in those 12 games with the Oil Kings, then added four goals and three assists in seven games to help Canada capture gold.
Guenther and 2020 first-round pick Jake Neighbours formed one of the top offensive duos in the WHL this season, leading the Oil Kings to the best record in the league at 20-2-1. His WHL performance, which ended with him being a finalist for league MVP, included four four-point games and five two-goal games. It also came after he posted 26 goals and 59 points in 58 games to win the WHL rookie of the year award in 2019-20.
“He has a lot of tools that make him such a great player and potentially a great player in the NHL,” John Williams of NHL Central Scouting said of Guenther on the NHL Draft Class podcast. "I kind of get a Max Pacioretty sort of thing from him. He's a sort of similar size kid... and I think he has that kind of potential."
A shooter's shot
Guenther possesses a world-class shot which he uses to score from all areas of the offensive zone.
At five-on-five, Guenther can be agile and forceful while moving the puck up ice and driving to the net to make plays. On the power play, he can set up on his off-wing and fire one-timers, or he can move closer to the net and make quick plays under pressure.
"Everything you want in an offensive winger, he's got," Aaron Vickers from FC Hockey said in an appearance on the NHL Draft Class podcast. “He’s showing great offensive balance, he can score (and) he can set up plays.”
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 20, 2021
His shot isn’t his only weapon though. While not the fastest skater, Guenther is smart and knows how to put the puck in places that he can get to before his opponents. And he has a good vision of the ice, making smart passes when his shot is taken away.
Guenther grew up in Edmonton so when his hometown team made him the first overall pick in the 2018 WHL Draft, he didn’t have to travel far.
The Oil Kings had a successful stretch in the early 2010s with three consecutive trips to the WHL Finals, two championship wins and a Memorial Cup title in 2014. A young Guenther watched those teams and grew up idolizing them. While the pandemic prevented him from leading the Oil Kings to championships over the past two years, he says the chance to inspire the next generation the way Curtis Lazar and Henrik Samuelsson did when he was young is still a special honour.
“Growing up watching the Oil Kings and then getting an opportunity to play for them is really a dream come true,” Guenther said in an interview with the WHL. “I remember all of those guys were role models to me growing up and now I can do that to other kids in the community.”