This is the time of year when some teams will need to make decisions about any junior-aged players they might have. Once a player plays in ten NHL games, they officially begin (or burn) the first year of their entry-level contract. One of the players in that situation was Coyotes winger Dylan Guenther. The decision has been made and the 19-year-old will remain with the big club with the news being broken to him by his family (Twitter link).
Guenther was the ninth overall selection in 2021 with a pick that was acquired from Vancouver as part of the swap that sent defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland to the Canucks. He lit it up with Edmonton of the WHL last season, scoring 45 goals while adding 46 assists in just 59 games while adding another 21 points (13-8-21) in just 16 playoff contests. Accordingly, there wasn’t much left for him to do at the major junior level but he’s ineligible to play with AHL Tucson this season (aside from a short-term conditioning stint) which left his options as Arizona or the WHL.
The Coyotes kept Guenther up after a good showing in training camp and he has rewarded them with a strong start to his rookie campaign with two goals and four helpers through his first nine contests. Perhaps as important as the production is the fact that he’s logging nearly 13 minutes a night which is a decent amount of ice time for a junior-aged player. That type of playing time should be sustainable throughout the year, especially with Arizona struggling a bit offensively as they sit 30th in the NHL in goals scored heading into today’s action.
With this news, Guenther will become a restricted free agent in the 2025 offseason but there is still one more threshold to watch for which is 40 games on the active roster. Once he gets to that mark, he then accrues a season of service time toward unrestricted free agency which would allow him to hit the open market at 26 instead of 27. He won’t get to that mark for a few months so there will be plenty of time for his evaluation to continue.