Guhle looks good in Rochester

April 14, 2017 - 10:29 am

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Its not very often I get a chance to just go to a hockey game and enjoy it, but I did just that Wednesday in Rochester.

I was anxious to see Brendan Guhle to see where the 19-year-old is in his development and he didn’t disappoint.

I thought Guhle was Rochester’s best defenseman that night using his skating and passing skills. All that led him to have eight shots on goal.

The Amerks didn’t spend a lot of time in their own zone that game taking 48 shots themselves, but when Guhle was pressured, he never cracked. The movement was usually pretty fluid and the first pass was on the tape.

I liked how he read the play and used his speed to make a difference. One play I remember came when Justin Bailey was breaking up the right wing. Guhle was nowhere to be found on the play and next thing I knew, it was like he was shot out of a canon. He sprinted past the Binghamton defense and took a prefect pass from Bailey to break in on goal. He deked to his backhand, but somehow the puck stayed out of the net.

There is one thing that worries me about Guhle. Even with shin pads on, he has the smallest legs I’ve ever seen on a hockey player. Many players win battles along the wall using their leg strength. I remember Nathan Gerbe doing that. He was so small, but had over developed legs that helped him along the boards.

You have to remember, Guhle’s only 19 and his body will get stronger, especially if he puts in the off season work.

I think Guhle will make the Sabres roster in October, but I do want fans to be careful. When the season starts he’ll be 20. I think he’s an excellent player and prospect, but fans have to understand he’s going to make rookie mistakes. It’s part of using young players in the NHL.

Tim Murray said on Wednesday that Guhle brings elements to the Sabres on D that they just don’t have and he will.

Murray is going to be looking for defensemen during the off season. He wouldn’t talk about Russian Viktor Antipin because his KHL season is still going. He’s 24-years-old and has already spent six seasons in the KHL.

Carolina has a good defense led by Jaccob Slavin and Justin Faulk. What if the Hurricanes were willing to part with 19-year-old Noah Hanifin? Carolina needs help up front and names like Sam Reinhart or Alex Nylander could be appealing.

Hanifin was the 5th overall pick in 2015 behind Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner. He played at Boston College and is good friends with Eichel. He hasn't always been stellar in Carolina, but I think he'll be a good one.

Seth Jones is a better defenseman than Hanifin, but when Jones went to Columbus, I thought that’s the type of trade the Sabres need. Hanifin has played 160 games in the NHL and will get better. I’m not sure if Reinhart alone would get a trade like this done, but if the Hurricanes are looking for young forwards, maybe Murray could convince them that a deal like this would help both teams.

Guhle wasn’t the only defenseman that caught my eye on Wednesday. His partner Casey Nelson also looked good. When Nelson first signed with Buffalo in 2016, I liked how smart he was. He got seven games in and the negative was his strength. He’s worked to get stronger and he seems to have his confidence back.

Nelson will get 57 games in with the Amerks and he’s often forgotten when talking about prospects. I still believe that he can be part of the solution on a third pair.

If we’re looking at what the Sabres have in the pipeline, Will Borgen is one that many scouts like. I saw his game for St. Cloud State in Denver and he was a horse. He plays in all important situations against the other team’s best players. He was taken in the 4th round in the same draft as Guhle. Borgen is returning to school for his junior season.

This year’s 3rd round pick Casey Fitzgerald was very impressive for Team USA at the World Junior Tournament. He has played two seasons for Boston College.

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