Dylan Guenther is packing his bags and leaving the desert for Seattle, WS. In case you haven’t heard the news, Guenther has been re-assigned to the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, where he will play out the remainder of the season.
Upon first glance, this transaction seems a bit puzzling because Guenther has played 33 games already this season, which means one year of his entry-level deal has already been burned. Since Guenther has played more than 25 games, he is ineligible for the Calder Trophy next year. Also, he has had good opportunities to play in the NHL, averaging 13:07 of ice time per game. If the management wanted Guenther to strengthen his game, they had the option to send Guenther down to Tuscon in the AHL for a conditioning stint, and he would’ve been a prime candidate to represent Canada at the IIHF World Championship in May.
Despite all of these puzzling reasons, here are 5 reasons why Guenther’s reassignment to Seattle makes sense.
1. Unrestricted Free Agency
As Guenther’s games on the active rosters were under 40, he does not accrue a season toward unrestricted free agency. This means that the Yotes’ can keep him for one more season before he is UFA-eligible.
2. Stacked Thunderbirds
Similar to the Kraken, the Seattle Thunderbirds are having a tremendous season and have a stacked roster. The Thunderbirds are a favorite to win the WHL championship. Not only does this opportunity allow Guenther to develop his game, but he will also gain more experience in playing in high stakes, stressful situations and on a team with a winning culture which will be very helpful when the Coyotes are a wagon and competing for the Stanley Cup.
3. Playing Time
As expected, Guether will have a big promotion in terms of ice time when he goes to Seattle. He will likely play first-line minutes, a significant increase from what he has played in Arizona. This will be great for his development because the only way to get better is to play, dominate, and gain confidence.
After being drafted 9th overall, scoring the golden goal at the World Juniors, and playing 33 games in the NHL, players on the Thunderbirds will look up to Guenther as they hope to find similar success to Guenther. This unique position that Guenther is in will allow him to grow as a leader and gain more leadership experience. Again, this will be very beneficial in a few years when Guenther is an experienced veteran NHL and mentoring new rookies on the team.
Need I say more?
This is an example of a team’s management playing chess rather than checkers. This move has a lot of upsides, but the team, players, and fans won’t see the payback till much later.