After skipping out on our Flurries yesterday for a complete lack of Avalanche news (and a late-night deadline elsewhere), the Avalanche rewarded us with an exciting new contract to bolster the team’s depth chart next year.
Pavel Francouz, a Czech-born netminder who boasts two international appearances this year already, inked a one-year, entry-level deal with Colorado to make his North American debut this upcoming season.
At 27, he’s slightly older than even the most well-marinated European goaltending prospects - although he’s no Jeff Glass, who made his NHL debut this year in Chicago at age-32 after a decade in the KHL.
Francouz has been one of the most consistently strong goaltenders in the KHL for the last three seasons, though, boasting this pretty stupidly good set of stats from 2012 to present:
He hasn’t dropped below a .920 over a full season since hitting the highest level of play six seasons ago, and he has a .953 save percentage last year and a .946 this year to show for it. It’s a little absurd, when you really think about it.
Will he be a guaranteed fit for the Avalanche? Of course not. There are a million variables to consider; the transition to the North American game, the shift in ice surface dimensions, his size, his age, and his ability to adapt to another new country.
Spencer Martin flamed out by the end of the season, though, falling below a .900 save percentage in the AHL during the regular season. Behind him, Joe Cannata had strong numbers in both the AHL and ECHL, but doesn’t seem like the team has any particular plan to bring him up soon - and with almost comically frequent injuries to both Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier, bolstering the depth chart with a cheap, no-risk option is a fantastic idea. [Mile High Hockey]
Speaking of Jeff Glass and the transition to North American ice, I spoke with him a few years back about some of the major differences between playing styles on each side of the pond. If you want a glimpse at what Francouz will need to be adjusting to, you can check out that interview here. [InGoal Mag]
Of course, the addition of Francouz brings the number of players for this story up to four, which is even better. But here’s a look at the three other Colorado Avalanche players who are currently skating in Denmark for the 2018 World Championships. [MHH]
Now that Francouz has been signed, by the way, what else do the Avalanche still have to do this offseason? [Mile High Sports]
Shifting gears quickly, it looks like the Denver Pioneers are going to be making some changes this offseason:
Haven’t been on Twitter today. What’s going on?— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) May 2, 2018
For those who don’t get the joke, head coach Jim Montgomery will shift gears and join the Dallas Stars as their next head coach. [Bob McKenzie]
On one hand, this is a fantastic step up for Montgomery, although it’s a blow to the incredible program he’s built at Denver and all the kids who won’t get to play under him now until they go pro.
On the other hand, that’s now both NHL clubs with former ties to ex-Arizona Coyote bench boss Dave Tippett that have made decisions on their new head coaches, with Tippett still sitting out of a job.
It’s entirely possible that Tippett, who is as nice as someone buying you coffee at the Starbucks drive-thru, has decided he’s sitting this season out again. He’s certainly earned the right to hang with his grandkids after years of turning straw into gold around the NHL.
But if he’s still looking for work, that could mean a move to the East Coast - where, technically, his ties to the Hartford Whalers could come back into play coughjustsaying.
In hilarious news, the NHL decided to just throw rules out the window, and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy finalists have been narrowed down to these three players:
Here you have it. The King Clancy Memorial Trophy finalists are Daniel and Henrik Sedin, @PKSubban1 and @Jason_Zucker16.— NHL (@NHL) May 2, 2018
Find out who wins it all in @Vegas! #AwardWorthy #NHLAwards pic.twitter.com/ecTmC05CAT
Wait, that’s right, there’s four. Apparently, the Sedins are literally going to go into their careers getting drafted as a set pair, and go out getting an award as a set pair - because let’s be honest, this all but gives away who won.
Also, the Vegas Golden Knights just got shut out for the first time this postseason, dropping a 4-0 decision to San Jose on the road in Northern California. [NHL.com]
If you have an Athletic subscription, I’ll pander to you all a little bit: here’s a mailbag on the goaltending we’ve seen in the postseason so far, including some talk about goaltender interference and oatmeal raisin cookies. [The Athletic NHL]
Finally, I think we need to talk for a moment about Dan Carcillo.
I very, very rarely use the word ‘hate’ to describe people, even in my own head. But when he played in the NHL, there were times that I bandied it around when considering Carcillo; his inability to keep his hits clean and his game safe after putting up decent middle-six numbers to start his career made me incredibly angry.
Now that he’s retired, though, it’s hard to have anything but respect for him. He hung up his skates not long after his good friend Steve Montador ended his own life, and he’s dedicated his time since then working tirelessly to make the world a better, safer place for players as they transition out of the game and re-enter reality.
Some of that has been providing resources for post-hockey education and training, helping the guys who aren’t set for life to get trained in new career areas and find job prospects as they transition to an entirely new stage of their lives. More of that has been raising awareness for hits, concussions, and CTE.
He’s been a little overwhelming at times on social media, and I think he’d do well to talk to someone about social media etiquette when it comes to getting his point across in a less abrasive manner. That being said, he made an announcement on Wednesday that deserves nothing but our utmost respect:
This is one of the scariest & hardest things I’ve ever had to write but here it goes. I am pledging my brain to Ted Carrick and the @Carrickinst (Carrick Institute) to be used for study and furthering understanding of the consequences of traumatic brain injury when I pass @NHL— Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) May 2, 2018
If you don’t already, you should check out his Twitter account and see some of the work that he’s been doing to further understanding of concussions, traumatic brain injuries, CTE, and long-term effects. From being a guinea pig on voluntary studies to breaking down what about a hit is clean vs. dirty, he’s doing a lot of good after a career in which not everyone loved seeing him out on the ice.