I can’t believe that when I sat down to start planning this post last fall, Dylan Guenther was someone I was debating leaving off? What was I thinking? Then again, it was only supposed to be one post. Ah well. Hindsight is 20/20.
The first overall pick in the 2019 WHL Draft last spring, Guenther kicked off his rookie season with a bang. He led the WHL in scoring by a true rookie this season — true rookie being 16 years old, because Winnipeg’s Michal Teply, who actually finished atop the rookie scoring leaderboard, is born in 2001. Despite the shortened season, Guenther set new Oil Kings franchise records in goals and points.
Guenther got off to a slow(ish) start this past season, only putting up four points in his first 11 games. His offensive production heated up in mid-October and he rode that wave through to the end of the season. Guenther broke through with three points in his final game before the U-17s and put up three goals at that tournament for Canada White.
Guenther finished 3rd in scoring this season on a weak Edmonton team and was a frequent producer on the powerplay, with eight goals and 17 points on the man-advantage. Three of his goals were game-winners and he scored an additional four times in the shootout (on six attempts). Guenther was named the WHL’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Year.
The creative goal scorer also has excellent playmaking abilities, and Guenther’s offensive talents are incredibly well-rounded. A lightning-quick (pardon the pun, but this is a Bolts site) release on his snap and wrist shots, along with his abilities to change the angles of his shot with deceptive ease, make Guenther a very lethal shooter.
Guenther’s transitional game is also extremely sound, as he is very dangerous off the rush. His puck control when he hits his top speed is excellent, and he can drive the puck towards the net from the outside or change directions quickly to fool defenders. Guenther has the ability to beat defenders one on one or attack through multiple defenders directly. Calm and confident when opponents pressure him, Guenther’s creativity shines when the puck is on his stick.
Also a solid puck distributor, Guenther’s instincts allow him to find his teammates from anywhere on the ice in the offensive zone, and he can make excellent passes off the rush as well. He proved an excellent puck distributor on Edmonton’s first line with Jake Neighbours (2020) and overager Riley Sawchuk, but the rookie also wasn’t afraid to shoot the puck.
Guenther is defensively aware and responsible, and his urgency in his own end was noticeable in his first full WHL season. Consistent improvement in his own end will allow Guenther to help out his team in a larger, more well-rounded capacity, like becoming an effective penalty killer. Guenther proved he could drive offense as one of the youngest players in the league on a shallow Oil Kings offense and his ability to produce will only increase as he gets stronger.
Strengths: Shot, Driving Offense, Puck Control
To Improve: Strength
Guenther has a good mix of size, speed and skill and can absolutely wire any wrist or slapshot he takes, but he’s forced to do a lot of the damage for a weak Edmonton squad. If you like comparisons, Tyler Seguin isn’t a bad one. [The Hockey News]
An amazing skater who shoots the puck with a deadly release and wicked accuracy, Guenther has been a driving force for Edmonton’s bench boss Brad Lauer. He has swagger to his game and is a star in the making. It’s not often a first-year player is a key contributor to a Memorial Cup contending team. [Sportsnet]
Guenther is surely going to challenge him for best player coming out of the west. He is a smooth skater and always seems to be in the right spot. His hands are lightning-fast, keeping up with his impressive skating. He is an excellent playmaker who has a quick wrist shot. [Dobber Prospects]
Dylan Guenther with a hat trick already. Three goals in the first period. Great work stealing the puck from Carson Lambos. Drives to the net and scores off of a backhand shot.#2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/ol8KaggIhb— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) February 25, 2020
Dylan Guenther has been named Eastern Conference Rookie of the year in the WHL today. Guenther finished 2nd in rookie scoring this season with 59 points (26G, 33A) in 58 games. He is only going to be more and more dominant in the WHL as years pass, and this is just his D-1. pic.twitter.com/T42p4IDYt6— Spencer Loane (@spencerloane) April 16, 2020
Statistics from Elite Prospects and the Western Hockey League.