As the draft board rolls on, we’ve finally got our first winger entering the mix, would you look at that!
It was something of a strange season for Guenther, in truth—because of COVID restrictions and the WHL starting their season late, he didn’t really play a whole lot. He started with Sherwood Park of the AJHL on a loan, got in four games with them before returning to Edmonton, and then played 12 games with them. It wasn’t a whole lot of playing time to work with, but Guenther sure made the most of it, cruising with a cool 2 points per game pace in the WHL, and that’s a performance that’s certainly turned a number of heads.
BSH 2021 Community Draft Board, No. 4: Dylan Guenther
Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL), Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Statistics: 3 G, 2 A in 4 GP (AJHL), 12 G, 12 A in 12 GP (WHL)
No. 5 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 8 by Future Considerations
No. 12 by Dobber Prospects
No. 8 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
What stands out probably most immediately about Guenther’s game is his speed. His acceleration is pretty good—it’ll take him around three strides to get fully up to speed—but once he gets up to that top speed, he’s hard to catch, hard to stop. In addition, when you pair that speed with his strong puck handling and the strength he added last summer, you see a player that can hold his own and get around defenders well, and that makes him a real force in transition.
There’s a really nice balance to his offensive game, and that makes him quite effective. He’s a strong passer, both on shorter feeds and longer stretch passes, but also has a very good shot (or, shots, more precisely). He has a quick and accurate wrist shot, a strong one timer that he can get through traffic well, as well as soft hands in tight. And he doesn’t really get too stuck in relying on just one element of his game—he has quite a good sense for what’s necessary in what situation, how plays are going to develop, and uses both his passing and shot pretty equally, and to good results. Add into that mix a tenacity on pucks and a good physicality in the offensive zone, and you’ve got a player who’s a threat in just about all areas.
But, not to be overlooked in all of this is the fact that Guenther also already possesses quite a well developed defensive game. He's an aggressive defender, bringing generally strong reads to put a good deal of pressure on opponents. We see this both at even strength and on the penalty kill (he’s one of the stronger, more aggressive penalty killing forwards in this top prospect group), he’s brought distinct defensive reliability so far for his team. And, what’s more, he’s found a way to play a tough, aggressive defensive game, but to also do it cleanly, without crossing the line and racking up undue penalties, and that’s a real asset in and of itself.
”He has the best chance of anyone in this draft to become an NHL star,” says Corey Pronman of the Athletic (and you can do with that what you will).
What’s not to like?
There really isn’t much in the way of massive holes in Guenther’s game, and that’s certainly good news. But one area we’d like to see some improvement is on the physical side. We’d like to see him build some strength, and not just on the raw physical side (but there too), but also the functional side. He’s got good size—he’s not always the biggest player on the ice, but still, good size—but he struggles at times to fully use his frame to be elusive from defenders, and if he’s able to improve there, that will be a huge asset to his game.
On a related note, we talked about his physicality in the offensive zone, but we don’t always see him reaching that same level in the defensive zone, and we’d like to see a little more consistency in that area.
And finally, Guenther does at times fall victim to some lapses in judgement, whether that’s a weird pass into no man’s land, or an overly aggressive play that gets him into trouble, which does add a degree of risk to his game. It’s not to the point where we’re seriously questioning his hockey sense, but it’s just going to be a matter of him getting a little better with his puck management, with picking his spots.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The wing isn’t a position of absolutely dire need in the Flyers’ system—they’re comfortable with options at the NHL level, and have a few promising options waiting in the wings in the pipeline—but another, especially one with upside like Guenther’s, certainly wouldn’t hurt.
For all the talk of the Flyers’ need to add a bit more speed into their lineup, Guenther would certainly offer that. He doesn't necessarily bring one specific attribute that the Flyers are desperately, desperately in need of, but he’s highly skilled and has tremendous upside, and that’s a really hard thing to turn down.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
Our first group of players that we’ve already talked about this week have been pretty hard “no”s in terms of the Flyers’ ability to get them, but now we’re getting closer to “maybe” territory. As we saw up in our rankings list, there really doesn’t seem to be a solid consensus on where Guenther will or should go (that’s going to be a theme here, so buckle in), so that certainly complicates things. If he goes closer to the top-5 or so, that’s most likely going to be out of the Flyers’ range, but if he’s still on the board around 8th or so and the Flyers have absolutely fallen in love with him, well, that’s a bit more reasonable of territory for them to move up into. It’s still a little murky, but at least it isn’t another hard no, right?
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Kent Johnson — C/LW, University of Michigan (NCAA) — 9 G, 18 A in 26 GP
Johnson is as creative as they come. Whether it’s passing and shooting between his legs, lacrosse moves, or anything else you’d find on a highlight reel, if you can dream it, he can probably do it. Michigan coach Mel Pearson has a longstanding philosophy of allowing his skilled players freedom to exercise their creativity, and Johnson has undoubtedly benefited from that thus far. More of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, Johnson’s passing stands out on almost every shift, whether he’s sending a spin pass to a teammate wide open in the slot or finding a lane between three defenders. - Bailey Johnson, Smaht Scouting
Who should be no. 5 on the 2021 BSH Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed