Guhle Preps Brother For NHL Draft
Kaiden Guhle enters draft as top-ranked WHL prospectApr 20, 2020
By Joe Spurrier/SanDiegoGulls.com
With the season at a standstill, Gulls defenseman Brendan Guhle is sheltering in place at home in Alberta with some of his earliest fans – his mother and his brother Kaiden. In the midst of his third professional season and first full campaign with the Anaheim Ducks organization, Guhle was in the midst of his most prominent season yet, splitting time between the Ducks and Gulls.
Acquired by Anaheim in the latter half of the 2018-19 season as part of a trade for defenseman Brandon Montour, Guhle, was looking forward to completing the campaign after an injury with the Ducks last season kept him out of the final month of NHL action and joining the Gulls in their Calder Cup Playoff run. This season however, the COVID-19 pandemic put his stretch run on pause.
“I’m here at my mom’s house right now with my brother and my mom so we’re kind of just grinding it out,” said the Edmonton, Alberta native. “She’s still working which is good and my brother and I are working out in the morning. We’re kind of just hanging out from there on.”
Brendan’s brother, Kaiden, four-and-a-half years younger, is following the same path as his elder brother to hockey’s highest stage. Kaiden, also a defenseman, spent 2019-20 with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League (WHL), totaling 40 points (11G/29A) and a +23 rating in 64 games. Just a few weeks ago Kaiden was listed as the eighth ranked North American skater, and highest ranked WHL prospect, according to the final draft rankings from NHL Central Scouting.
Brendan also played for Prince Albert from 2013-16, and after his first two seasons with the WHL club was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round (51st overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The road to the NHL through the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) typically starts at a young age and requires players to sacrifice a lot of time with their families at a young age. The paused season has allowed the two to catch up and spend time together that they typically might not be able to.
“I left home when I was 16 and he was only 11, so I missed a lot of him growing up,” said Guhle. “We have a pretty good relationship just because of that. We didn’t see each other for a lot of the years so it’s nice to be quarantined with him now.”
In addition to showing his brother some NHL-level workouts, Brendan has been able to share his experience going through the NHL Draft. Kaiden is eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draftm and after an impressive season with Prince Albert he could be a first-round pick. Brendan has been able to provide Kaiden with an inside perspective on what to expect with the draft process.
“There’s a lot of similar things, like he’ll ask me questions about when someone asks him this, what does he think,” said the 22-year old Gulls blueliner. “We kind of just talk about it and it really brings back a lot of memories. I think he’s having a lot more phone calls than I did, but he’s handling it pretty well.”
The NHL Draft is one of the biggest moments in a hockey player’s career and having already been through it, Brendan is allowing his brother some space so he can make the moment his own.
“I want to give him guidance, but at the same time, I want him to create his own path and I don’t want to be controlling in any way,” added Brendan. “If he asks me something, then I’ll be happy to give him my opinion, but at the end of the day, it’s his career and his path. He can ultimately choose what he wants to do.”
“I’m pretty excited for him,” he emphatically said. “He’s been in contact with a lot of teams recently so it should be an exciting time for him and I guess we don’t even know when the draft is going to happen anymore so he might have to wait a little bit longer. He’s excited and that would for sure be cool if (Anaheim) ended up picking him.”
The elder Guhle began the season with Anaheim and has since appeared in 30 games with the NHL club, totaling eight points (4G/4A). Splitting time with the Gulls 90-or-so miles south, he has recorded 14 points (4G/10A) in 27 games in San Diego, ranking tied for second among club defensemen in goals and third in plus/minus (+9).
“There was a lot of travelling and not necessarily knowing where I was going to be at certain times, but it was a lot of fun,” said Guhle. “I never realized how fun it was playing in San Diego in front of those fans and in that building. That was awesome and I loved it there. Obviously, playing in Anaheim was a dream come true. They were one of my favorite teams growing up and it was a lot of fun to play there this year as well.”
Prior to joining the organization in February 2019, Guhle played in 112 AHL games with the Rochester Americans, competing against teams across the Eastern Conference. The blueliner stayed with Anaheim last season and didn’t make his San Diego debut until this season. One thing stood out to Guhle about his first experience with the Gulls – their fans.
“I was playing in Rochester for a bit there and never experienced an AHL crowd like that anywhere in any city,” he said while discussing his career to date. “That was really fun to be a part of and that’s really encouraging. We all really enjoyed having that support from the fans every night.”
Still in the early stages of his career, the oldest Guhle can help his younger brother prepare and look forward to the special moment, but the NHL Draft doesn’t mean an automatic roster spot with an NHL team. Brendan knows his hard work has put him into a position for that possibility next season. Because of this, the brothers will hope their dedication pays off to both be full-timers in the NHL in the near future.