Rookies: Kaiden Guhle will return on Sunday

BUFFALO- Kaiden Guhle has struggled with a lower-body injury for most of the summer, but says he’s now ready to see some action.

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The Canadiens’ defensive prospect has been training with the other rookies on the roster since arriving at the rookie tournament in Buffalo, and he’ll play his first game Sunday against the Ottawa Senators. Juraj Slafkovsky will also be back in training after being granted the day off on Friday.

« I knew coming here that I would probably just play one game, » Guhle said Saturday. I’ve been injured since our long run in the playoffs, so we wanted to be very careful with all that. We didn’t want to make it worse on the eve of my first professional season.

“Everything is beautiful now. The Canadiens staff wouldn’t have put me in this situation if I wasn’t ready. I feel good, they think I’m ready so I trust them. »

The 20-year-old defender won the Western League (WHL) championship with the Edmonton Oil Kings and then played in the Memorial Cup tournament at the end of June. He didn’t start skating again until early August when he returned to Montreal.

« I would still have taken a few weeks off after this long season, » he said. The plan was to get to town a little early to start rehab with the team staff. It was the plan all along to make sure I was fit and ready to fight for a spot at camp. »

This battle for the two positions available on the blue line of the Habs will mainly take place with Justin Barron, Jordan Harris, Mattias Norlinder and Arber Xhekaj. Already last year, most observers judged that Guhle was ready for the next level.

Now imagine what he will look like with one more year of experience at the junior level and the baggage of another long run in the playoffs and at the Memorial Cup – a second in his young career.

“I think I improved my offensive game, mentioned the one who has amassed 40 points in 42 games. It comes with maturity and confidence. Going back to the junior level and playing another season there has helped me a lot. We had a very good team in Edmonton and it was beneficial for me to be the man of confidence. »

« I see a lot of maturity in him, » said coach Jean-François Houle. He is a leader. We see that he has been here for a few years. On the ice, he makes good stiff passes. He’s ready for an NHL camp. He will do everything to find a job in Montreal, that’s for sure. »

It remains to be seen whether he will experience a camp that lives up to expectations. If this is indeed the case, the first-round pick in the 2020 draft should start the season in the metropolis.

“It will not be my decision, he concluded. I can only control what I can control. These are my work habits and my attitude. Then it will be up to the coaching staff to make the decision and see where I fit in the lineup. »

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