Guhle Has Earned a Spot on Canadiens’ Opening Night Roster

The start of the 2022-23 NHL regular season is just days away which means that final roster decisions are just around the corner for the 32 teams across the league.

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The Montreal Canadiens still have pieces of the opening night puzzle to fit together, especially on defence thanks to Joel Edmundson’s injury. There are a handful of players, both prospects and veterans, vying for spots on the blue line and one has stood out above the rest during training camp. While some auditions over the past few weeks have been met with mixed reviews, Kaiden Guhle has proven that he’s ready for a full-time role with the Habs.

A Mature Game

The 20-year-old defenceman, a first-round pick by Montreal two summers ago, almost made the team last year out of training camp before being one of the final cuts, but he left a lasting impression. He returned to the Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for his third season of junior hockey. The extra seasoning and the opportunity to dominate at that level have proven beneficial given the improvement he’s shown with the Canadiens ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. He put up 40 points in 42 regular season games and played in the Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Kaiden Guhle, Montreal Canadiens
Kaiden Guhle, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

During the preseason, Guhle has outplayed the other defenders battling for roster spots and proven that he’s further along in his development. He’s taken his game to another level, one that has him on the verge of NHL duty.

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“There’s a lot of things he does consistently that are very helpful to our team,” Caufield said about Guhle. “He does It day in, day out, it’s not just in games it’s in practices. I love where his game is at.”

He’s not only putting his trademark heavy, physical style of play on full display, making life difficult for his opponents and efficiently knocking them off the puck. In transition, he’s making strong decisions and showing that he can contribute offensively by jumping into the rush at opportune times. His game is mature and refined with more growth to come.

A Mentor in Savard  

Guhle isn’t only getting the opportunity to appear in preseason games with the Habs, but he’s also being put in a top-four role alongside David Savard. The two players began building their on-ice chemistry last year during camp and they’ve picked up where they left off this fall.

Related: Canadiens Prospect Pyramid – Start of 2022-23

“It’s great. He’s an awesome player, awesome guy,” Guhle raved about his defence partner. “He’s steady, I know where he’s going to be all the time, he’s loud, he talks to me. “I love playing with him so hopefully I get a chance in the future to keep playing with him.”

David Savard Montreal Canadiens
David Savard has been a valuable mentor for Kaiden Guhle.
(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With so many young defencemen in the fold, veterans like Savard, Mike Matheson, and Joel Edmundson will serve as mentors. Savard continues to be a nice fit next to Guhle and he plays his role of big brother more than admirably. It’s looking more and more like will start the season as a pairing which is the way it should be.

A place in the top-four means that Guhle has been facing the best forwards on the opposing team each time he’s on the ice which makes his performance during training camp so impressive. He’s also leading by example despite his age, utilizing his previous experience with the Habs to pave the way for his younger teammates who are getting their first taste of professional hockey.

It’s safe to say that Guhle has come exactly as advertised when he was selected no. 16 overall in the 2020 NHL Draft with notable progress at every stage of his development. So far, he has passed each test with flying colours and now he’s ready for his next challenge as an everyday defenceman in the NHL.

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