When additional competition is brought in to help improve a perceived weakness, an athlete will likely react in one of two ways – either by stepping up to meet the challenge head on or moving on to a different team.
Brendan Guhle is choosing the former option.
The Buffalo Sabres’ second round draft pick in 2015, Guhle has played in a combined 21 NHL games over the last two years as he has adjusted to life in professional hockey. This offseason, he is expected by most observers to make the Sabres’ roster on a permanent basis.
But those expectations have been tempered by a few moves from Jason Botterill. The Sabres’ general manager, in addition to selecting Rasmus Dahlin first overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, addressed his team’s lack of organizational depth on defense by taking four other rearguards and acquiring veteran Matt Hunwick from Pittsburgh via trade.
Have any of these moves bothered Guhle? According to him, no. In fact, he welcomes the chance to compete with others and has been preparing to battle against them by working on his skills throughout the summer.
“You’ve got to be one of the best players if you want to make the team, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” Guhle said at Buffalo’s first day of rookie development camp. “There’s a ton of good, young players here – which makes it fun to be around.
“I’ve been working on my strength and getting bigger, my lateral crossovers and my shot. Just trying to get it off quicker and hitting the net, so that’s the way I can make the roster in the fall.”
Guhle also marveled at Dahlin’s debut in the Sabres’ blue and gold and noted that he has gotten to know the young Swede while rooming with him during camp.
“He’s exciting,” Guhle said. “He’s a really good player and you can see his skill level. He’s world-class and that’s why he went first overall. When you see it, it’s awesome.”
“He seems to be pretty calm and poised out there, but the most important thing is he was having fun with us. He’s real humble and relaxed. We were watching America’s Got Talent last night and he said they have a show like that in Sweden, so it was perfect.”