Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed free-agent forward Ben Guite (BEHN GEE-tay) to a one-year, two-way contract worth $550,000 on the NHL level and $105,000 on the AHL level.
Guite, 30 (7/17/78), has played 168 games with Colorado over the past three seasons, registering 45 points (19g-26a) and 93 penalty minutes. In 2008-09, the 6-1, 211-pound center paced all Avalanche skaters in plus/minus rating (+2), and ranked second among Avalanche forwards in both average shorthanded ice time (2:21) and face-off efficiency (51.5%). The Montreal, Que., native posted career highs in games played (79), goals (11), assists (11) and points (22) two seasons ago, in addition to dressing in all 10 of Colorado's 2008 playoff contests. Guite's first and only NHL game outside the Avalanche organization came with Boston in 2005-06.
Montreal's eighth choice, 172nd overall (seventh round), in the 1997 Entry Draft, Guite played four seasons at the University of Maine from 1996-2000, winning a National Championships with the Black Bears in 1999.
Who exactly is Ben Guite, and what might he bring to the Preds? More after the jump...
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Guite appears to be a prototypical 4th-line NHL center. Here's the scoop from Mile High Hockey, SB Nation's Colorado Avalanche blog:
Guite is your basic, hard-working 4th liner. He isn't blessed with a great deal of size, speed or skill, but he works hard, throws the body around, kills penalties, grows manly mustaches and scores the ocassional goal here and there. After dipping to 48% faceoff efficiency the previous year, Guite rebounded to 51.5% in 08-09.
By the way, he's not kidding about the manly mustache. Let's take a look at Guite's Behind the Net numbers compared to the other Colorado centers, first in 5-on-5 action:
All in all, this is moderately encouraging stuff. The "Rating" column reflects the difference in Goal Differential when a player is on the ice vs. when he's on the bench, and Guite's +1.35 is the best of the bunch. Basically, during his ice time, Goals For went up (2.16/60 minutes vs. 1.76), and Goals Against were sharply lower (2.04 vs. 3.00). His Corsi number, reflecting Total Shots directed at the net For and Against, is negative, but on a bad Avalanche team this is hardly surprising, and Paul Stastny was the only Colorado pivot to break even on that score.
As for the penalty kill?
Gads, this ain't so good.
Frankly, I wonder if this further reduces the likelihood of Scott Nichol's return. Guite is bigger, younger, provides many of the same qualities, and carries a salary well under Nichol's $750K from last season. The two-way contract also provides for the possibility of sending him to Milwaukee if necessary. All in all, this seems like a decent bargain-bin acquisition by GM David Poile to either fill the 4th-line center spot or bolster the ranks in Milwaukee.
UPDATE: Perhaps he can help the Preds out on the business side as well - according to Denver Post writer Adrian Dater, Guite also holds an MBA from the University of Maine. I'm trying to think back, but I can't remember ever hearing before of an active NHL player with a post-graduate degree.