When the Colorado Avalanche began the 2021 regular season, they did so without their backup goalie. At some point during training camp, Pavel Francouz suffered a lower body injury, making him unavailable. Now, more than a month later, he finds himself on LTIR and the Avalanche could be looking to trade for a goalie as a result.
Last season, when Philipp Grubauer was hurt, Francouz stepped in to start 34 games as an NHL rookie. He put up a great .923 sv% while finishing sixth in the league in goals saved above average—directly ahead of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Robin Lehner. He played so well that during the offseason, some were advocating for Francouz to be the team’s starter—though Grubauer’s play so far this season has silenced that talk.
In his absence, the Avalanche have turned to Hunter Miska to fill in as backup. The 25-year-old has looked fine in two starts, but he’s definitely a step behind Francouz and is not the guy who will be able to give Grubauer much time to rest.
The Avalanche also have Adam Werner on the taxi squad, but he’s not much different from Miska. If the team can’t count on Francouz to be healthy any time soon, they’re more than likely going to need to bring in some help, particularly with the schedule becoming even more condensed thanks to the week-long COVID shutdown.
Francouz is one of the best backups in the league; he’s closer to being a 1B than a true backup, so a healthy return would be far more preferable than having to make a trade. That said, his presence in the lineup doesn’t appear to be something the Avalanche can count on any time soon.
With that in mind, here are a few trade options that the Avalanche could explore to bolster the depth chart.
Collin Delia - Chicago Blackhawks
Coming into the season, Delia was expected to battle with Malcolm Subban for the starter’s role in Chicago. Now, thanks to the emergence of Kevin Lankinen in Chicago, Delia has found himself as the clear No. 3 on the depth chart. With Matt Tomkins around to fill out the taxi squad, the rebuilding Blackhawks could very well let Delia go if they can turn him into a draft pick.
He would be cheap, but one hurdle is that Delia has another year left on his contract at $1 million, and the Avalanche might not be interested in taking that on.
Ryan Miller - Anaheim Ducks
If it’s a veteran the Avalanche are looking to bring in, Ryan Miller might be a good option. At 40 years old, Miller is on his last legs but would fill the role behind Grubauer perfectly. He has been one of the best backups in the NHL since he got to Anaheim four years ago, and has shown the ability run with a heavier workload if needed.
There is a belief that Miller doesn’t want to leave California and that the Ducks will honor his wishes if he doesn’t want to leave. That said, the allure of finishing his career on a Stanley Cup contender might be too much to pass up.
David Rittich - Calgary Flames
If the Avalanche know Francouz is finished for the season, they might look into making a bigger trade to acquire someone who can play a lot of games down the stretch. If that’s the case, Big Save Dave might be the answer. He is a UFA this summer, and the Flames might be looking to sell him off as a rental.
Rittich was really good two years ago, only average last season and has been bad through his first two starts of the 2021 season. His performance recently hasn’t been great, but he’s one of the few goalies around the league who doesn’t have term on their contract and can also fill in as a reliable starter should Grubauer miss time as well.
Jonathan Bernier or Calvin Pickard - Detroit Red Wings
Why not a familiar face?
The Red Wings are in the middle of a full rebuild, and neither Bernier nor Pickard are a part of the team’s future. Both are UFAs at the end of the season, and Detroit would certainly be willing to take a late draft pick for either of the two former Avalanche goalies. Neither is all that good, but they’d be a perfect fit as a backup short term and could easily transition to a low maintenance No. 3 if/when Francouz is healthy.