Brendan Guhle went to the rink in Prince George, British Columbia just like any game day. The defensman for the Cougars, a major-junior team in the Western Hockey League, was preparing for Friday's matchup against the Victoria Royals. Only he was called into the coaches' office after morning stretch to receive some news.
They "told me I got traded to the Sabres. I was like ‘what?’" the 19-year-old Guhle said Saturday morning in KeyBank Center about two hours before making his NHL debut. "Then they said I was going, that they called me up because they had some injuries. That’s how it all played out.
"I was even really sure that was allowed," Guhle said with a smile.
It's an unusual move but one that is allowed. Injuries have crushed the Buffalo Sabres blueline and the rules allow for an emergency recall from juniors. In this case, Josh Gorges went down with a foot injury. Casey Nelson in Rochester is dealing with a shoulder/neck injury. Up comes Guhle.
Guhle scored three goals in four games since being acquired by Prince George on Nov. 19. He began the year with the Prince Albert Raiders and in 19 combined games has seven points (five goals, two assists.)
Guhle was drafted by the Sabres in the second round in 2015. A native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, his parents and grandparents caught the red-eye to make it into Buffalo around 6 a.m. Guhle himself arrived at around 1 a.m. That's a 12-hour turnaround which in some respects isn't all that bad.
"I guess it’s not a bad thing," Guhle said. "Just come here and get right into the game and think about everything after. I’m just going to take it shift by shift and keep it as simple as I can, not trying to do too much. That’s all I can do I think."
Dan Bylsma said that Guhle will be paired with Cody Franson as the Sabres host the Boston Bruins at 1 p.m. Saturday in KeyBank Center.
Guhle has been to two Sabres training camps and nearly made the team this year.
"Two training camps ago you saw great skating ability," Bylsma said. "This year I thought he showed the skating ability but also showed an increased battle level, an increased intensity playing defense. It was maturation for him and his game. We felt like we needed to add some speed on the back end, some skating ability and Brendan's going to provide that."