When you watch Kaiden Guhle hit the ice, two things stand out about the defenceman: His size and his skating.
What he may lack in pure skill and puck handling, he makes up for in power and athleticism, and his potential as a top-four rearguard has seen him rise up the rankings all season, and now he projects as a mid-first-round pick.
Here’s what you need to know about Guhle.
Age: 18 (Jan. 18, 2002)
Current team: Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Hometown: Sherwood Park, Alta.
Weight: 186 pounds
Size is on his side
At 6-foot-2 and 186 pounds, Guhle already has an NHL frame.
While his stats might not jump off the page, he’s the kind of defenceman who never goes out of style: A big, physical rearguard who’s a strong skater despite his size and tough to knock off the puck because of it. A reliable rearguard in his own zone, he’s shown more and more that he can jump into offensive play with a booming shot when needed.
His skillset was on full display during the CHL Top Prospects game earlier this year:
Props from a #WHLAlumni to a current WHL star on the rise. a href="https://twitter.com/Sportsnet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sportsnet's @armdog was impressed by @PARaidersHockey's Kaiden Guhle at #CHLKTP! #NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/UWNyLquqBa
— The WHL (@TheWHL) January 17, 2020
His year-over-year stat line shows marked progress when it comes to his offensive development, doubling his assists (14 in 2018-19 vs 29 in 2019-20) and points total (17 in 2018-19 vs. 40 this year) and bringing his goals total up from three in 2018-19 to 11 in his draft year through the same number of games.
He’s emerging as a leader on Team Canada
Over the course of his junior career, Guhle has emerged as a leader during international play, captaining Team Red at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2018 and donning an “A” on his sweater for last August’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
His coach in Prince Albert, Marc Habscheid, speaks highly of his character:
“As good a player as he is, he’s a better person,” said Habscheid. “He gets life, he gets being a good teammate. He gets being coachable.”
Character is no doubt a factor in Guhle’s being named one of three finalists for the CHL award for top draft prospect of the year, alongside the OHL’s Quinton Byfield and eventual winner out of the QMJHL, Alexis Lafreniere.
The Guhles are a Prince Albert tradition
The Guhle name is well-known in Prince Albert. Before Kaiden arrived, older brother Brendan Guhle was an integral part of the club’s defence corps. Between the two of them, there’s been a Guhle brother on the Raiders’ blue line for seven straight years.
The younger Guhle said it’s been helpful to have his brother, who was drafted 51st overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2015 and now plays for the Anaheim Ducks, pave the way.
“We talk a lot of hockey. After games, we text usually and watch each others’ games whenever we can,” Kaiden, who was drafted first overall to the WHL club in 2017, said. “He’s been a really big part of my career so far. He’s been really great for me throughout this whole process.”
#CHLKTP Profile: Kaiden Guhle
Following in the footsteps of older brother @guhles_ first as a member of @PARaidersHockey and now as a top defensive prospect for #NHLDraft.@KubotaCanadaLtd | @TheWHL pic.twitter.com/6DOebaqlSE
— CanadianHockeyLeague (@CHLHockey) January 7, 2020
He knows how to win
Brendan was the first Raider, but Kaiden got the last laugh:
“We always kind of joke about it, he said he’s been here four years, never won a title,” said Kaiden, “and I was here for one and won one.”
Reaching the top of the WHL as league champs and getting to compete at the 2018-19 Memorial Cup went a long way in Guhle’s development:
“It’s the best feeling,” said Guhle, via the WHL website. “Just getting a taste of that at a high level at such a young age is something that you’re going to want to do every year.
“It’s something that I strive for every year and our team strives for.”