The door is wide open for defender Kaiden Guhle


The door was already wide open for Kaiden Guhle at the Montreal Canadiens this season. Should Joel Edmundson’s absence be prolonged, then the Alberta defender will most likely start the campaign with the big club.

Chosen in the first round of the repechage in 2020, 16th overall, Guhle is a mature defender despite his 20 years. He has often been compared to Shea Weber, although he is more mobile and a little less imposing than the former Habs captain.

« He’s got a good size, he’s mobile and he’s good with the puck. He has everything he needs to succeed, acknowledged head coach Martin St-Louis. With all that, I’m confident enough to say he’s going to play in the NHL. He now has to choose what type of player he will be and we will help him develop his game.

« We’ll see how far it takes him, but he has all the tools to play in the NHL, » added St-Louis.

Still on his case, Guhle claimed that the fact that Edmundson was injured didn’t change his approach.

« I focus on what I control, which is my day-to-day work, » he said. And of course you never want to see a teammate fall in battle.

On Friday, Guhle’s name was found next to that of David Savard, although there was a rotation between the five defenders in their group in a first intra-squad game.

Little did St. Louis know the two were also paired up during camp last year, when Guhle was among the last players cut. He noted that the two had mature styles, which could complement each other well.

« He’s even calmer with the puck and his skating is still excellent, » commented Savard of his protege. We see that he is ready. He is determined to stay here. I will help him get there. He has a lot of talent and the chances are good that he will spend the whole season here.

Savard, who will celebrate his 32nd birthday next month, is no stranger to mentoring a young player entering the NHL.

When he played with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Savard welcomed Pierre-Luc Dubois into his home. He did the same with Michael Chaput.

“He was always ready to accompany me on the ice. I arrived here a few weeks ago and I could have been alone on the ice, said Guhle. Instead, he came to join me for exercises. He took me a bit under his wing and it’s appreciated.

Guhle believes he has progressed offensively over the past year. He had 40 points in 42 regular season games with the Prince Albert Raiders and Edmonton Oil Kings, before adding 16 points in 19 playoff games, helping the Oil Kings win the Premier League championship. Western junior hockey (WHL).

Although he is playing with confidence, Guhle stressed that he will have to adjust to his debut in the professional ranks.

“The pace is different with the pros and I will have to change some things, choose my moments better so as not to be caught on the wrong foot, he explained. But it’s like everything else. I have to improve everything, polish everything.”

A new start

Guhle pointed out that the arrival of the new management at the Canadian meant in a way a return to square one for all the prospects, who have the opportunity to make a good first impression.

So it’s the same for Mattias Norlinder, who hopes to prove that he has the qualities required to become an effective defenseman in North America.

Norlinder, 22, had a taste of the NHL, playing six games last season, after watching his side be plagued by injury. He also played six games with the Laval Rocket before returning to Sweden. Then, he joined the Rocket during their playoff run this spring.

« It was good to spend some time here, » said Norlinder. I know what I need to improve.”

The Swede stressed that he would like to demonstrate his offensive qualities to the management of the Habs.

He is aware that competition is important on the blue line with the Canadiens, but that’s not what will scare him.

« I think it motivates all defenders and pushes everyone to excel, » he said. It’s more fun when there’s competition. You see the other guys go and you want to do even better.”

One more defender was added to the group on Friday, as Russian Daniil Sobolev joined the Canadian. Sobolev initially did not receive an invite to the camp, as he did not have a visa to travel to Buffalo for the rookie tournament. The Habs, however, changed their tune in the middle of the week, seeking to invite one more defender to camp.

Other intra-squad games are scheduled on Saturday, then the traditional Reds vs. Whites game will be presented Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Bell Centre.

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