#NHLDraft2013: Candidates For #46 - Jake Guentzel

Jake Guentzel, Center
Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
5'10" 155 Pounds 10/6/1994

He's a familiar name to Minnesota types; His Father, Mike, is the Assistant Head Coach at the University of Minnesota, and his brothers, Ryan and Gabe, both played collegiately and semi-pro. The Nebraska-Omaha commit, though, made quite the name for himself in Sioux City, where Guentzel decided to spend his draft year.
After bringing the Hill-Murray Pioneers to the AA Championship game at the State Tournament, Guentzel opted to play with the Musketeers this season with Hill-Murray teammate Blake Heinrich. On a bad team, he had a decent first half of the season, but he really kicked into high gear after the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. He finished the season on a 21 game, 43 point scoring streak; and it wasn't just fluky stuff- Guentzel was purely sensational. Not the biggest, or the fastest, or the strongest, he succeeded in all three zones by being the smartest player out there; his hockey sense is high, high end.
There were points in a game I caught in Fargo in April where it seemed like the puck followed him around.
Possessing tremendous vision and anticipation, he also showed a nice two-way game too; breaking up plays on the backcheck, supporting his D down low and along the walls, stealing pucks. For being such a physically immature player (I've heard from number of people that his older brothers hit late growth spurts too, and frankly its bound to come because Guenztel looks like he's 14) he was simply in a league of his own.
He is a decent skater, but uses his burst of speed and quickness to catch defenders flat footed; he is so adept at using deception- whether it be skating or in his puck skills- to his advantage. I cannot emphasize enough just how good his hockey sense is; I saw it last season at the High School level and in the Elite League (where he and Justin Kloos dominated play), but this season was a pretty special display.
I like how he showed a dogged determination and nonstop work ethic- one of my questions about him going into this season was that at Hill-Murray there would be periods of lethargic play from him- and as it turned out, he needed a challenge.
(One of my favorite anecdotes was watching HM play in Burnsville, and Guentzel was lollygagging a bit, which caused his dad, Mike, to bang on the glass at one of the ends and yell "SKATE!!!" at Jake; Jake instantly shot his head toward him, and booked it back up ice.)
He's sneaky competitive too- I remember ripping off the 2nd Place Medal at the State Tourney, just after it was put around his neck post-title game.

Here's the thing with Guentzel, who earned an invite to the US Junior Team Evaluation Camp and will enter UNO this Fall; is that this kid has all the tools to succeed without having the luxury of being fully grown and physically mature. That's intriguing- he's one of the biggest risers in the second half of the season because of this. At this point I think he's a Top 90 pick.

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