The 2020 NHL Draft has two top defensemen in Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson expected to be selected within the top 10. The next group of prospects features several forwards and two WHL defensemen in Kaiden Guhle and Braden Schneider.
Guhle being a left-handed shot and his defensive skillset make him a more likely and suitable option for the Blackhawks. He had 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 65 games and three assists in 23 playoff games during the 2018-19 season to help the Prince Albert Raiders win the WHL championship then did not have a point in three games at the Memorial Cup. He more than doubled his offensive production with 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games before the season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guhle is a good skater and transitions well from skating forward to backwards, or vice versa. His lateral footwork might stick out the most in the defensive zone where he’s able to close a gap quickly, but he also is smart and not overly aggressive.
He’s a big, physical defenseman that can deliver a hard check against the boards to push opposing players off the puck then quickly start a breakout. In his own zone, he stays on his side of the ice and closes off passing lanes.
Guhle and his brother Brendan — a former 2015 second-rounder by the Sabres and current Ducks prospect — also share the same trainer, Barry Butt, with Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach. Prince Albert is also the junior team Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton played for.
The Blackhawks have selected six defensemen in the first two rounds in the past four years, including three in the first round. The end of the defensive prospect pool is heavy on the right side with Adam Boqvist, Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula. The left side features Nicolas Beaudin, Lucas Carlsson, Dennis Gilbert, Wyatt Kalynuk and Alex Vlasic. The first four will be trying to break their way into the NHL more, while Vlasic likely needs two more seasons at Boston University.
If the Blackhawks draft a defenseman in the first round, the left side looks to be the better option with right-handers Boqvist and Mitchell already in line to be on the NHL roster. Guhle’s more defensive game and physical presence could be an ideal complement to either Boqvist or Mitchell long term.
Age: 18 (Jan. 18, 2002)
Hometown: Sherwood Park, Alberta
Weight: 184 pounds
Team: Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 8 North American skater
Elite Prospects: No. 18
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 31
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 38
Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 20
Craig Button (TSN): No. 24