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Putting Kaiden Guhle on the market: an option to be evaluated (seriously)
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

The guy was drafted in the first round four, five years ago by the Habs, and last year he unfortunately missed some forty games due to injury(ies). Over the summer, we made projections for his 2023-24 season, and we have to admit that he’s not producing as many points as we’d hoped.

Who am I talking about? No, not Cole Caufield…

Enough has been said about CC22 and the fact that he hasn’t put it in often enough this season (despite an impressive number of shots attempted).

The player who hasn’t scored as many points as I’d hoped is Kaiden Guhle. And I’m counting on you to help me make up my mind by the end of the article.

In 2022-23, Kaiden Guhle (rookie season) collected 4 goals and 14 assists in 44 games, posting a minus-19 rating. Unfortunately, he spent a lot of time in the infirmary.

This year, Guhle stayed healthy. He’s missed only four short games, has 4 goals and 11 assists in 63 games, is more punished than last year, but has a better differential.

(Credit: HockeyDB)

So he has fewer points than last year, in 19 more games. Is he experiencing what’s known as second-year jinx? Could be.

But Guhle has never been described as an offensive defenseman. Even in junior…

When you dig a little deeper, you realize that Guhle has a Corsi of 45.20%… and that only Mike Matheson and David Savard have one worse than him. Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj (who went to Laval to improve his defensive game), Johnathan Kovacevic, Justin Barron (currently in Laval) and Jayden Struble all have better Corsi than Guhle this year.

At the same time, if I’m playing devil’s advocate, Guhle, Matheson and Savard are the three defensemen who have most often faced the opposition’s best elements (first trio) since the start of the season. Guhle, a left-hander, is currently used RIGHT on the first pairing, alongside the very defensive Mike Matheson.

Guhle had a Corsi of 43.30% last season, so he’s improved in that respect. Although the full team had a lower Corsi in 2022-23

You know, when I told you right off the bat that I was going to need you to do my head in…

Why did I want to talk about Guhle this morning?

1. Because when I watch the team’s games over the last few weeks, I often get the impression that he puts himself in dangerous and vulnerable positions… and commits turnovers that a good top-four defender doesn’t usually commit. #EyeTestNotAlwaysConclusive

2. Because with Xhekaj, Matheson, Hutson, Engstrom, Harris and Struble, Kaiden Guhle could well be the left-handed defenseman sacrificed to get his hands on a top offensive forward. For as long as we’ve been talking about it…

Several hockey men have praised Guhle’s merits over the years; André Tourigny in particular. Guhle’s market value must be good.

If Kent Hughes is able to get his hands on a forward with very interesting offensive potential, he will have to seriously evaluate the option of sacrificing Kaiden Guhle. It’s pretty certain that Xhekaj, Matheson, Harris and Struble wouldn’t fetch as much as Guhle on the open market…

Careful! I’m talking about getting my hands on a real top-notch forward, not an Alex Newhook-type project. We all want to avoid another Mikhail Sergachev or Ryan McDonagh-type transaction…

To receive, you have to pay. But there’s no question of giving or getting rid of Guhle…

I know, Guhle’s a good kid who didn’t rent a condo in downtown Montreal.

He’s learning to become a complete player, not an offensive turbo. So don’t evaluate him first and foremost on his offensive zone play.

And yes, you’d have to see him play some meaningful games to fully grasp the extent of his potential; he seems to have been conceived in the mold of guys who give more when it really counts.

But since the Habs need offense, and since a defenseman will obviously have to be sacrificed to fill that glaring need, I think that if I were Kent Hughes, I wouldn’t hesitate to put Kaiden Guhle’s name on the market this summer… before his injury-prone streak perhaps drives his value down too far.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Kaiden Guhle…

But if the Habs wish to aspire to top honours in the short or medium term, they could very well do so with Hutson, Xhekaj, Matheson and Struble or Harris on the left… and one more star striker in the top six. Unfortunately, it’s guys like Guhle you can get on the trade market. Not Jordan Harris or Jayden Struble!

Am I crazy? Am I in the ballpark? Maybe, but you know what? I’m a risk-taker. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and that’s even truer in professional sport. Let’s assess the market for Kaiden Guhle this summer!

Then we’ll see if it’s a good deal. Then we’ll decide whether it’s worth pulling the trigger.

It all depends on which player we dare offer to Kent Hughes…

In brief

– Speaking of Guhle.

– Like it or not?

– It’s going to be a bumpy ride in Pittsburgh.

– Notes for tonight’s game.

– Cole Caufield wants to become a complete player.

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