Montreal Canadiens: Kaiden Guhle Played His Best Game On Top Defence Pair

Edmonton Oilers v Montreal Canadiens
Edmonton Oilers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

For the Montreal Canadiens to put Kaiden Guhle on the top pair against arguably the two best players in the world, speaks to the trust he has earned from Martin St. Louis.

On Saturday night Guhle joined Mike Matheson and had to match up with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl throughout the night. After Marty made a flurry of changes ahead of the game. Justin Barron sat for Johnathan Kovacevic and Joshua Roy drew in for the injured Josh Anderson. 

The Oilers play a heavy and fast forechecking game. Offensively they thrive in transition, working quickly through the neutral zone and thriving on turnovers. Shutting them down requires a cohesive defensive effort, which most teams are unable to do. 

Guhle fortunately enough, was drafted as a defensive defender, but the end of his junior career showed he has potential for much more. He has offensive potential that hasn’t yet been reached and he does everything at a high level. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Guhle has wheels to fly and his positioning allows him to disrupt plays with a quick defensive stick. 

Guhle Saved His Best For McDavid, Draisaitl

On Saturday night against McDavid for the most part and a couple of shifts against Draisaitl, Guhle put together a masterpiece. For even the most experienced veterans, 97 and 29 are a handful. Never mind a soon-to-be 22-year-old defenseman. 

Guhle played just under 20 minutes of ice time and managed to have an unblemished plus-minus. Draisaitl and McDavid were held to zero points with Guhle on the ice. In a losing effort, Guhle was perhaps the Canadiens' best defender. 

Generally, a loss is a negative, but Montreal held off one of the league’s best to secure a point. Guhle didn’t play much in overtime, but he wasn’t the defender on the ice when Evan Bouchard scored the dagger. While it’s only one game, you have to give Guhle credit where it’s due. 

I’ve been an advocate for trading Matheson while his value is high. With Guhle proving comfortable on the first defence pair, it appears even more likely. Both Kovacevic and David Savard have played on the first pair and could slot in beside number 21 until David Reinbacher or Logan Mailloux is ready. 

Guhle hasn’t yet reached where he is going, but he sits atop the future blueliner group. Alongside him, the Canadiens have a nice group coming along. Mailloux, Arber Xhekaj, Lane Hutson and Reinbacher will soon join Guhle and Jayden Struble. 

Guhle proves that building a strong blueline will help the Canadiens to become a Stanley Cup contender. With a little more time, Guhle will lead the top powerplay and continue as a pillar on the penalty kill. The ascension to the top pair is actively upon us, but Guhle isn't done growing.