With the start of the new Western Hockey League season having occurred on Friday, many people were ecstatic that the puck was dropped once again after nearly a year off. One of the major takeaways on the new season is how good top 2021 NHL Draft prospect Dylan Guenther looks.
With the WHL season starting late, Guenther was not as fortunate as others. While he did get in a few games with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, he looked lost at times. With guys overseas having been playing since October and the United States Hockey League up and running for close to a month, players have managed to increase their draft stock with their strong play (for example, Chicago Steel player Matt Coronato). While this is not to say that Guenther’s draft stock took a huge hit, but he did not benefit from the long pause. With that said, he looked incredible in his first game with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Without further ado, here is why Guenther is still a top prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft.
When Guenther has the puck on his stick, he is extremely dangerous. He has elite vision and is able to find teammates in the slot with ease. He is so good at anticipating the play and seeing passing lanes open up. Even with pressure on him, he rains calm and is able to make the right play. He is also really good at being able to find open space in the offensive zone. In his first game of the season a few days ago, he was able to find some open space down near the net and made the opposition pay with his first goal of the season.
While he may be more known for his playmaking ability, Guenther also has an amazing shot. Capable of getting it off in a hurry, he is able to pick and choose where he wants to put the puck without hesitation. He managed to score 26 goals as a rookie last season and looks to be continuing that trend early on.
Guenther is going to be a big driving force for the Oil Kings in this shortened season. He has already made his impact felt and will be a major reason why this team finds success this season. I love how dynamic he is in the offensive zone and truly believe that he will make his impact felt at the next level. He is that good with the puck.
While Guenther may not be as well known for his play away from the puck, he is certainly no slouch in the defensive zone either. When the puck transitions the other way, he makes sure to come back and help out his defensemen. He plays with an active stick and is good at limiting scoring chances in the slot. He makes sure to keep guys to the outside of the defensive zone and limits the angle at which they can get a shot off.
Guenther can be relied upon to play in many situations. Whether that be defending the lead late or needing a goal to tie the game, he has been extremely impressive ever since he was drafted by the Oil Kings. He will only get more dangerous as he continues to develop his game.
I think Guenther will be a top ten pick when the draft does eventually roll around. Some scouts have him outside the top 10, and that may be due to the fact that he has not played a ton, but I think that is bound to change. If Guenther is able to fully develop over the next few years, I truly believe he could put up 80 points in the NHL one day. He just has a knack for being in the right space at the right time, and I know some team will be scrambling to call his name come draft night as he will be a difference-maker for whoever that may be.
My name is Mathieu Sheridan. I am a writer here at THW who covers the OHL and prospects in general.