Dylan Guenther is right up there with Kent Johnson and William Eklund in terms of his raw offensive abilities – but he might have the most polished set of offensive skills in the draft. Let’s take a look at why he might fit into Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman’s rebuild.
Success in the WHL
Guenther just finds a way to get pucks to the net. He was crowned rookie of the year last season in the WHL, averaging over a point per game in 58. Because of the Covid-19 year the WHL had this season, he only had 12 games to illustrate his abilities. And he took advantage of each opportunity. Guenther managed to nab 12 goals and 12 assists, averaging two points per game in a limited sample size with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Although his performance with Canada in the under-18 tournament was not quite as impressive, he still secured seven points in seven games.
Although we don’t have quite the same sample size of tape as some of the other players in the draft, it’s still clear that Guenther is perhaps the best pure scorer in the draft.
One of his greatest strengths is knowing exactly when to snipe or pass. If he finds any sort of soft spot on the net, he’ll launch his lightning-quick one timer to the back of the net. If no such defensive hole exists, he’ll simply slide it to another right in front of the crease to a teammate to cross up the goalie. Both options are extremely dangerous: when Guenther activates a shot, it’s almost always high danger, especially anywhere close to the crease.
Guenther is also deceptively quick, using quick acceleration to surprise defenders, especially during the transition from defense to offense.
Guenther possesses a lethal hockey combination: high skill shooting, sneaky-fast acceleration and an elite ability to read the ice. He’s a sniper and playmaker wrapped into one player, which is one of the better offensive skillsets in the entire draft.
Another Two Way Player
Guenther is also a puck hound defensively. He isn’t complacent in his own defensive zone; he’ll often utilize some hyper-aggressive strategies to harass the defender and force a turnover. Because he overcommits to defenders and doesn’t have next level strength, his puck hound nature can occasionally come back to bite him and open up holes in the defense. However, with a bit of coaching and some increased strength, Guenther’s defensive abilities could actually be well above average, especially for an offensive-minded forward.
Another Fit for Detroit
Guenther is another player that just makes sense for Detroit. He has high upside: if he can transition his game to the NHL, he’s a lock to not only be a top-six winger, but a top line forward. He plays with determination offensively, and matches that same energy in the defensive zone – a trait hard to find in forwards billed as elite scorers. Although his limited recent sample size might make some general managers pause, his previous years and few games this year show a played comfortably in the top ten, with the potential for an elite NHL forward.
The two problems for Detroit in relation to Guenther are these:
- He’s not projected as a center like a few others near the top of the draft. Guenther is a pure winger, and would basically come in and add even more depth to an already growing pool of winger prospects in the pipeline.
- Guenther is not expected to fall to the sixth pick. But stranger things have happened, and this draft is certainly one that could see a lot of chaotic things happen.
If Yzerman decides to pick up Guenther at the sixth spot, Detroit will have yet another high end playmaker that has the chance to be a home run in the NHL.