Ideally, there’s no better way to be assimilated into a team than living with “Captain Coyote.” For most freshman players, this is just an unrealistic standard. However, for newly drafted Coyote winger Dylan Guenther, this is reality.
For the past few days, Guenther has been living with Shane Doan, training with him, sharing experiences, and becoming comfortable in his new life as a professional hockey player.
“We’ve talked about our shared experiences with the few days we’ve had together,” Guenther said. “So, for me, I’m just going to learn all that I can and take that to where I’m playing next season.”
Doan was in the league longer than the Coyotes. He was on the Winnipeg Jets and moved with the team as it became the Phoenix Coyotes before the 1996-97 season. Doan was drafted into the NHL in 1995, eight years before Guenther was born. Now Guenther can learn from one of the greats, who has more than 20 years of experience to share with the young prospect.
The 18-year-old Guenther was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and played three seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Edmonton Oil Kings, as well as four games for the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Guenther had 26 goals and 33 assists in his 2019-20 season with the Oil Kings.
When the Coyotes found out they had the ninth pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, they were excited about the chance to sign a high-caliber player like Guenther. However, because of Guenther’s impressive scouting report, Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong didn’t think he would still be available.
“We didn’t think he was going to be there. That was our big concern,” Armstrong said. Fortunately, Guenther was available, and the Coyotes drafted him with their first-round pick.
The organization saw qualities in Guenther that it knew would make him worthy of a first-round pick.
Armstrong said Guenther was an easy choice based on the scouts’ deep dive into Guenther as a person and a player.
“He loves hockey, he works at his game, and he’s got a tremendous amount of talent,” Armstrong said. “What we love about the player is just his passion to play the game. He’s a well-rounded player, but the No. 1 thing is that he can shoot a puck.”
After officially signing Guenther, the focus shifts to preparing him for the future. Part of that is not only living with Doan but practicing with players like Jakob Chychrun and Clayton Keller and working with the trainers. Armstrong said he believes this is a huge advantage for Guenther.
“It’s a huge advantage for him to come in and get comfortable with the surroundings. The opportunity to come out here and train with the guys and get used to the trainers and just incorporate that day-to-day living. It’s a great opportunity for him to come in early and get a new comfort level,” Armstrong said.
The Coyotes — whose first home game is Monday, Oct. 18, against the St. Louis Blues — are admittedly taking it slow with Guenther. Armstrong emphasized that they will not put Guenther on the NHL ice until he’s ready.
“There is a process for this to be done properly, and for us we want to make sure players are there at the right time,” Armstrong said. “We want to make sure it’s a process that goes slowly and properly, and we put the prospects in the NHL when they are ready.”