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Top Montreal Canadiens Prospect Blossoming In CHL Playoffs



Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens top prospect Kaiden Guhle has been impressive with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL Playoffs this spring, as the 6’2 defender continues to make an impact in the most crucial moments of the year.

The 20-year-old has looked like a completely different player since being traded from the Prince Albert Raiders to the Edmonton Oil Kings on December 2. The former 16th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft has been the best defenceman on his club and has helped shut down some of the biggest names in a very competitive WHL this spring. Under new head coach Brad Lauer, Guhle has been utilizing his speed and his reach far more, especially on the rush, to push the tempo of the game up the ice very quickly, often catching the opposition off-guard, like the play below.

After posting 40 points in his 42 games this season, Guhle seems to have picked up right where he left off offensive in the post-season, posting seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 16 games. The increase in offensive opportunities comes from him being far more proactive with the puck. The impressive part about Guhle’s offensive input is how consistent and diversified it has been in every round, despite the games getting tighter as they moved deeper into the playoffs. He’s continued to activate himself offensively, jump into the transition, and make smarter decisions with the puck; resulting in sustainable offence at the most important time of the year. In past years, he would overthink what to do with the puck, often cycling back down below the goal line to evade forechecking pressure, but now he’s more assertive and is making much better decisions. He’s looking to get more pucks on net, strategically looking for tip-ins or slap passes, and possesses his own cannon of a shot from the point.

By diversifying the way he’s brought offence, which was primarily through his one-timer or wrist shot from the point, Guhle has been able to rapidly develop his offensive game in a much more translatable way to the NHL style of play.

McLean's Pub

After disposing of the powerhouse Winnipeg Ice in the EatsEasternference Finals, Guhle and the Edmonton Oil Kings have now moved on to the WHL Finals; facing off against the tenacious Seattle Thunderbirds. Despite dropping Game 1 in a heated affair against the Thunderbirds, Guhle and the Oil Kings have effectively come back into the series with authority, claiming Game 2 and 3 and wrestling back control of the momentum. Guhle hasn’t had WHL playoff experience like this since his 16-year-old season playing for the WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders in 2018-2019. His return to the WHL’s spring dance has allowed him to impose himself even more so on the pace of the game and this prime developmental time can only help the Montreal Canadiens down the line.

General manager Kent Hughes has mentioned Guhle’s name several times as a player the organization holds in high esteem. These performances are likely to cement his status as the top prospect defensive prospect in the organization headed into Training Camp this September. With Guhle set to make the jump to pro hockey next season, the improvements he’s made to his game over the last five months will serve him well in eventually establishing himself as a bonafide top-4 defenceman in the NHL. The question is now: Can he crack the Montreal Canadiens’ roster out of Training Camp if he continues this remarkable development path? Time will tell.

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