The Colorado Avalanche might be in the market for a decent-sized two-way defenseman in the 2020 NHL Draft. Kaiden Guhle fits that bill.
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The Colorado Avalanche will have a while to wait before they call in to the 2020 NHL Draft. Normally I would have said walked up to the podium, but this year’s draft is sure to be virtual because of the COVID-19 crisis.
After about the first 10 players, there’s a lot of speculation on who’s going to go for the rest of the first round. Some players get chosen higher than they were scouted, while others drop lower in the first round and even into the second round.
Defenseman Kaiden Guhle is one of the players who can go anywhere from mid-first to early-second in the 2020 NHL Draft.
The Avalanche have a low-20s draft pick — #27. So, the young but big defenseman could well fall into their range. He’s ranked #8 by Central Scouting for North American players. However, he’s scouted to go anywhere from #14 to #28.
Guhle is an 18 year old out of Alberta, Canada. As noted, he’s already got good size for a defenseman — 6’3″ and 187 pounds. Let’s look at his other attributes.
Kaiden Guhle Stats
Guhle started out the 2017-18 season in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League playing for OHA Edmonton Prep. However, he finished the year in the WHL playing for the Prince Albert Raiders. He got an assist in eight games with them.
Next season didn’t see his offensive statistics climb. He played the whole season with the Raiders, 65 games, and recorded three goals and 14 assists for 17 points.
This last season, his draft season, saw a marked improvement in his offensive production. In 64 games, Guhle recorded 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points.
Kaiden Guhle also wore the C for Canada Red in the U17 in 2019. He recorded three assists on six games.
Kaiden Guhle Highlights
Kaiden Guhle is a borderline shutdown defenseman who’s finding two-way abilities. In fact, he’s working hard on his offensive abilities, as evidences by this season’s stats.
Bill Placzek of DraftSite has good things to say about Guhle, especially his skating:
"“Finely coordinated bigger defender with excellent feet with nice puck skills. His high end skating skills will get him selected early, because he skates well in four directions and it takes him no more than three steps to get to top barreling speed. He surprises with high end bursts from the boards past defenders in the open seam before they realize he has done it. His feet are deceptive, and his body lean gives the impression he is walking the blue line one way and then he pinches.”"
That description of his skating sounds pretty exciting.
Steve Kourianos of The Draft Analyst concurs when it comes to Guhle’s skating. The scout also has praise for Kaiden’s two-way play:
"“Offensively, Guhle generates most of his opportunities and set-ups via his hard, accurate shot…Guhle’s impact on defense covers many areas. His one-on-one play — gap control, footspeed, stick positioning, timing — is excellent, and he can finish off an opponent with a thunderous check that creates a change in possession.”"
It’s good to hear Guhle isn’t afraid to use his size. Sometimes these big, young players don’t play the body as much.
Let’s watch Guhle in action:
I like how the video shows some of his hits and other physical play — you do get a feeling for how he’s not afraid to use his size.
Colorado Avalanche and Kaiden Guhle
We’re starting with these draft profiles to get into the realm of players the Colorado Avalanche might actually have a chance to draft.
Colorado is stacked on defense right now, but Guhle isn’t going to be NHL-ready for at least three years. By then we may well need a big, strong, two-way defenseman.
Guhle has the skating in his favor. To be on the Avalanche, you have to be a pretty strong skater.
I think it will depend on what the Avalanche see as his offensive ceiling. Sure, they already have a nice stable of offensive defensemen. But they want their defensemen to be able to score as well as skate.
I like Guhle for the Avalanche, but it’s hard to say if they’d pick another defenseman in the first round.
The Colorado Avalanche often play it safe by selecting a good forward in the first round. That may be an area they need more than defense, though I think two-way defensemen are very valuable.