A look towards the Avalanche backup goalie stuation

At the beginning of 2019-2020 season there were doubters questioning if the Colorado Avalanche can go deep in the playoffs with the goalies they have. Grubauer had a good record as a backup, but was no proven starter. Francousz was a proven goalie in the KHL, but how will that success translate in the NHL? It turned out that not only worked, but they provedd to be among the best goalie tandems in the NHL. Grubauer had a 91,6% save percentage and 2,63 gaa in 36 regular season games while Francousz put a 92,3% save percentage and 2,41 gaa. Avs seemed to be set in the goalie department for a while. Just let goalie prospects (in the Capitals organization) to grow (for the Avs to trade).

After the mess of the 2019-2020 season and the playoffs arrived the new and improved Avs with the same goalie tandem. Except that Francousz suffered an injury, which now seems will keep him away from NHL action for the season. The excellent goalie tandem is just now a great starter and a glaring hole where there should be prospects and and third goalie capable of providing a few NHL starts in case of injuries. Hunter Miska was the one who was tried in the duty, but 83,8% save percentage and 4,16 gaa was an indicator that some work needs to be done to get the needed goalie depth and not to over work Grubauer into exhaustion before playoffs start.

The new additions

In March 20th a trade was announced. The Avalanche got Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2021 6th round pick. In Buffalo Johansson had a save percentage of 88,4% and gaa of 3,79 in 7 games. The numbers are not good, but neither was the team in front of him. That being said both Linus Ullmark and Dustin Tokarski have a save percentage of over 91% behind the same horrible Buffalo team.

In April 10th another trade for a goalie. The Avalanche got Devan Dubnyk from the San Jose sharks for 2021 5th round pick and a depth defenseman, Greg Pateryn. Dubnyk had a 89,8% save percentage and 3,18 gaa in his 17 games in San Jose. The numbers are not good, but both are just above the overall save percentage and gaa of the San Jose Sharks team numbers this season.

In the 2020-2021 season Grubauer has done his job as a starting goalie. A 92,0% save percentage and 2,00 gaa in 34 games is among the best in the NHL. And those numbers are there despite being over worked due the the backup situation. Johansson has played in 5 games this season in an Avs jersey with 92,9% save percentage and 1,87 gaa. That includes a shutout. That was a day before Dubnyk was added into the lineup. In Dybnyks’ 3 games in the Avs he has a 90,0% save percentage and gaa of 3,04.

In a quick look at the opposition the goalies have faced, Dubnyk played all three of his games against St. Louis, while Johansson played against Arizona, St Louis, Minnesota and then 2 games against Anaheim. Dubnyk played all games on the road, while Johansson had one home game and four on the road. Although Johanssons’ numbers were inflated due to two games against the low scoring Ducks, still allowing just one goal in two games with total of 53 shots on goal is a solid performance.

Dubnyk is the more proven one from the two backups, but I would prefer seeing a bit more what Johansson can do with more games. Is his shaky start more of an indicator or were the later great performances more of a view what Sakic has gotten for just a 6th round pick?

What about the future?

Lets now pretend that no goalies from the (Capitals) prospect pool gets any chance of being the backup or the third goalie. What is the short term future for the goalie situation?

The contract situation is an interesting one as Francousz is the only of the mentioned goalies that has a contract that is not at its end this summer. I think it is safe to expect he is okay next season and will work as a backup. If Francousz can play at similiar level next season as he played before, I do not think he will stay as a backup goalie. This means he will not continue his career in the Avalanche organization. So for the next season Johansson could keep improving his game in the Avs system as an AHL starter and a 3rd goalie when (if) needed and take the backup role from 2022-2023 season. Grubauer should remain the starter for the organization during this time and a few more years. If Johansson keeps improving, he might turn out s starter one day for the Avs, but let us not get that far ahead.

Stats from NHL and hockey-reference. Contract information from capfriendly.

Thanks for reading

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