After years in the AHL, it looks like 31 year old defenseman Nate Guenin has finally stuck in the NHL. The longtime journeyman signed a 2-year extension with the Colorado Avalanche this morning which will keep him in Burgundy and Blue through the 2015-2016 season. From the Avalanche's press release:
Guenin, 31, has dressed in 38 of Colorado's 42 games this year, which included each of the first 32 contests to begin the season. He has recorded four points (0g/4a) with a team-high 86 blocked shots. The Aliquippa, Pa., native also ranks first on the Avs in short-handed ice time (2:57 per game) and is fourth in hits (84-tied).
"Nate has been very consistent during the first half of the season," said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic. "He has been a reliable member of our defense and we are pleased to have him under contract for the next couple of years."
For fans here at MHH Guenin's play has been something of a mixed bag. He brings a nice physical edge to the blueline and makes the Avalanche crease a tougher place to play, but his play with the puck and occasional defensive lapses are frustrating. Nonetheless, Guenin has clearly earned the trust of management and the coaching staff. Guenin sits 4th on the team in TOI with 18:50 each night and leads Jan Hejda by 2 seconds in short handed TOI. Many considered Guenin a temporary rental, but the Avalanche seem to see him as a part of the future, after all, Guenin and Erik Johnson are the only Avalanche d-men signed through 2016.
The Avalanche are supposedly asking around the NHL for a defenseman and are rumored to be shopping Tyson Barrie as part of the return. Guenin's signing certainly changes the landscape of the Avalanche D in that light. Erik Johnson and Jan Hejda are presumably safe considering their role on the team. Andre Benoit would seem safe as well, he ranks 3rd among defensemen in ice time, 2nd in points, and was just signed to the team this summer. Tyson Barrie, Cory Sarich, and Ryan Wilson, however, don't seem so secure in their positions. This trade deadline could get interesting on the Avalanche blueline.
I think Guenin gets a bit of a bad wrap around these parts. He's played his role on this team and performed admirably. He makes the 3rd pairing difficult to play against and brings a physical edge in the form of a forearm shiver that most of the d-men on the roster just dont have. If he's staying on the third pairing with some time on the PK, then that's just fine with me, but this team still needs a major upgrade on its second pairing, and Guenin does not address that problem one bit.