Our second draft profile shifts away from the net and towards the blueline. There’s a lot to like in Prince Albert (WHL) defenseman Kaiden Guhle, with his size and two-way ability leading the way. Brother of Anaheim defenseman Brendan (drafted 51st by BUF in 2015), the younger Guhle has shown a bit more offensive prowess early in his junior career.
At 6-foot-3 and nearly 190 pounds, Guhle is a rangy rearguard who has been on scouts’ radar since a young age after being drafted 1st overall in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft. He has followed the common path of a blue-chip prospect, playing internationally for Canada at the U18 level, and will certainly be penciled in on Canada’s U20 roster with a World Juniors spot in the foreseeable future.
Guhle posted admirable offensive production, adding to his already sound defensive game in just his second season for the Raiders, with 40 points in just 64 games. He’s a player who will continue to dominate as an all-around prospect for the next couple seasons with Prince Albert as he develops towards a professional career.
Guhle’s skill set fits well with what Carolina likes in its defensemen. Although he isn’t going to wow you with dynamic offensive ability, he regularly showcases the talent to retrieve pucks and either make a strong first pass, or skate the puck safely in transition.
Relying on sound positioning and the willingness to engage physically, he makes the game difficult for opposing players with excellent gap control and an active stick. He looks to punish offensive players both in open ice, and in the defensive zone, not shying away from board battles.
Offensively, Guhle skates well, passes well and has an NHL-level shot both in power and accuracy. He may not headline your power play, but can fill in and produce when called upon. Guhle thinks and sees the game well, and can control tempo both in transition and in the offensive zone. He’s a willing contributor on the offensive side of the puck, but offensive opportunity is not needed to keep him engaged in play.
Drafting in the middle of the first round, many of the higher-ceiling prospects are off the board before teams get a chance to select. Guhle is a high-floor prospect who would fit well in the Hurricanes organization.
His defensive game, frame and physical tools trend towards a future middle-pairing blueliner with a blossoming offensive game. As his offensive game continues to grow, as will his ceiling. Given Carolina’s depth chart at the NHL level and fringe AHL level, Guhle would have no pressure to get in the lineup early, instead being afforded the luxury to develop, making him a potential plug and play player down the road.