Kaiden Guhle Just Scratching The Surface Through 100 Games

Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens have relied heavily on their young blueliners, but none more than Kaiden Guhle.

Through his first 100 games, there was a bit of a struggle to adapt, but that’s not abnormal. A large reason for his success is his innate ability to never appear nervous or make hasty decisions. On the top pair alongside Mike Matheson, Guhle hasn’t looked out of place.

It’s easy to forget that he is only 22 years old, especially considering how he shuts down some of the NHL's best every game. The 2020 16th overall selection has been playing 20-plus minutes a game, thanks to his strong, stout defending and fantastic mobility. He isn't going to put up Lane Hutson numbers, but he can play physical or outsmart opponents with his smart defensive stick.

I often ponder what Guhle's ceiling is, but since being drafted his floor has risen, so it's tough to predict. The confidence and poise required to play against the best players every night is immense, and some veterans get exposed. Guhle is no different, he has been on the wrong end of some goals against, but his ability to move past them and excel is a testament to his maturity.

Guhle has four fewer points than last year, although he has played 12 more games. But the fact is, he has sacrificed offence to ensure he is helping out defensively. So, the offence has taken a bit of a backseat while he establishes himself as a top pairing defender.

I expect that his next 100 games will prove how important of a defender he is, even if his offensive production doesn't increase. But let's be clear, he isn't likely to be a 70-point player, but that doesn't mean that he isn't a pillar for the Habs rebuild. I predict that one day he will don a letter on his jersey and serve as one of, if not the best Canadiens two-way defenseman.

Even after he skates in his 200th game, I don't think he will show his true potential until he is about 25 years old. Atop the fantastic group of young defenders, the Canadiens are going to have a wonderful brigade of U25 defenders at their disposal. The immobile, offensively challenged blueline is certainly a thing of the past, and the Habs are going to have a well-balanced attack because of it.

With the blend of defenders who are likely to join the Canadiens over the next couple of seasons, they also won't be pushed around. Guhle was a known hitter in the Western Hockey League, which he has had to tone down a bit. But any team who forgets that and crosses his side of the blueline risks being sent flying to their backside.

It's also worth noting that Guhle has been play on his off side, while Matheson plays on his strong side, the left side. So everything that Guhle has been doing, is a little more impressive. That equates for just 56 games of his 100 games of experience, and if you ask anybody watching, they'd be hard-pressed to argue he isn't a great fit.