Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Guenther — selected with the first-round pick the Vancouver Canucks traded for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland — scored the golden goal for Team Canada in Thursday’s final game at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Guenther converted off a give-and-go passing play with Joshua Roy (MTL) at the 6:22 mark of overtime to give Canada a 3–2 victory over Team Czechia in the gold-medal game at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
With the goal, Guenther moved into a tie for second place on the tournament goal-scoring leaderboard (behind only Connor Bedard) with seven in seven games. The 19-year-old forward recorded three goals and 11 points in 21 games with the Coyotes before being loaned to Team Canada for the World Juniors.
The story of how Guenther became a Coyotes prospect is well-known by now. In the hours leading up to the 2021 NHL Draft, former Canucks general manager Jim Benning closed a deal with Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong which saw defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Conor Garland head to Vancouver.
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In return, the Canucks parted with the No. 9 pick in 2021, a second-round selection in 2022 (ultimately flipped for Jack McBain), and veteran forwards Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel, all three of whom were heading into the final years of their respective contracts. We don’t know who the Canucks would’ve picked at No. 9, but Guenther was widely considered the best player available by the time the Coyotes were on the clock.
Through 37 games with the Canucks this season, Ekman-Larsson has one goal and 16 points while averaging 20:25 per night. The 31-year-old defenceman still has four years remaining after this one on his contract, which costs $7.26 million against the Canucks’ salary cap ceiling.
Garland, 26, has six goals and 18 points in 36 games with the Canucks this year and is signed through 2026 at a $4.95 million cap hit. Meanwhile, all of Eriksson, Beagle, and Roussel are no longer on the books in Arizona.
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Guenther cracked the Coyotes’ lineup in October as a 19-year-old out of training camp after collecting 45 goals and 91 points in 59 WHL games with the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2021–22. Now that he’s lifted Canada to World Junior gold, he’ll return to the NHL with the Coyotes to wrap up his rookie year.