Montreal Canadiens: Could Kaiden Guhle Play in AHL Next Season?

KENT, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 22: Kaiden Guhle (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
KENT, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 22: Kaiden Guhle (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens first round pick Kaiden Guhle was in an interesting situation this season.

He was selected in the first round of the NHL Draft by the Canadiens after playing last season with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders.

Typically, a player drafted out of the WHL, or either other Junior league in Canada, the OHL or QMJHL, is not eligible to play in the AHL until he turns 20 years old. So, most drafted players have to either make the NHL or go back to Junior. There is no in between.

This is due to the current transfer agreement between the NHL and Canadian Hockey League which governs all three Canadian Junior hockey leagues. Any player drafted out of the CHL is not eligible to play in the American Hockey League until his 20 year old season, meaning the player has be 20 before January 1st of that season.

For example, Habs first round pick Kaiden Guhle turned 19 on January of this year. That means the 2020-21 season is his 18 year old Junior season because he was 18 years old on December 31, 2020. So, in a typical year he wouldn’t be allowed to play an AHL game until his Junior team’s season ended.

However, with the WHL not starting play until last weekend, Guhle played three games with the Laval Rocket while waiting to see if his Junior team would play at all this season.

Guhle performed well in those games, as have several other players who would typically be playing in the CHL right now. Seth Jarvis was a first round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes and he scored 11 points in nine games for the Chicago Wolves, but was forced to return to the WHL when that training camp opened.

Wouldn’t it make more sense if these players had the option of playing in the American Hockey League?

Well, according to TSN Insider Frank Seravalli, NHL GMs may push for this rule to be changed after this season.

The NHL-CHL transfer agreement technically ended before this season but the two sides agreed to abide by it through the pandemic. Apparently NHL GMs are seeing the success of these 18 and 19 year olds at the AHL level and are interested in allowing it happen more often in the future.

The CHL will push hard against this as they don’t want to lose a handful of first round picks to the AHL when those players would be the top stars to market in the CHL.

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Talks are very preliminary right now, but Guhle would be forced to return to Junior again next season if the rules stay the same. After looking comfortable in his first taste of AHL action, let’s hope the NHL can gain some traction here and allow players like Guhle to move on to the AHL when they are ready.