Colorado’s matinee win over rival Minnesota seems to have come at a severe cost. Avalanche netminder Darcy Kuemper took a nasty hit to the head and then hit it again on the post behind him. Kuemper looked as if he was finding his form leading into this moment. It’s unacceptable that the injury happened in this manner and that Jordan Greenway was allowed to finish the game while Darcy Kuemper left due to a subsequent concussion.
Here’s what just went down. Dirty dirty play from Jordan Greenway. #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/0wv00H3Rb1— Adrian Hernandez (@AdoHernandez27) January 17, 2022
First off, we wish Darcy a speedy recovery and hope he gets the necessary support and time to heal. Gabriel Landeskog said it best in his Players Tribune article, “ ... the brain is a very different thing. You only have one brain. If you don’t take care of it, you can really suffer the consequences for a long time. If you’re feeling foggy or sitting in a dark room wondering what’s wrong with you, go see a doctor immediately. Take as much time as you need to recover.”
DOES SAKIC MAKE A MOVE?
Now that the dust is settling on a season-shifting game and injury, is Avalanche GM Joe Sakic left with no choice once again? Will he have to mortgage more young talent and picks in an attempt to bring in a cup-caliber goaltender? I say yes.
Francouz has served as a solid backup since returning, but I’m not confident in him as a starter. He tends to over-extend and gets a bit scrambly in big moments. I think that one day he could become a starter but in my useless opinion, he isn’t there just yet. Big ups to Pavel for coming in as relief and slamming the door on the Wild.
Marc Andre Fleury, Carey Price, and Jonathan Quick all seem like viable options but would all require a substantial and unique return. Let’s explore these options.
Of the three, Fleury makes some sense to me. He comes at a relatively low cap hit compared to Carey Price and has been solid this year for the Blackhawks. Fleury will likely retire at the end of the season, which means sending prospects and picks for a rental. Fleury seems to be the strongest performer of these three vets, and what a story it would be to meet the Golden Knights in the playoffs with Marc Andre Fleury in an Avalanche sweater. Fleury has a modified no-trade clause, meaning he would have to sign off on any trade involving him.
Carey Price is coming off personal leave, and although I respect that decision, it may cause GMs to view him as a risky endeavor. Especially at a 10.5M for another five years. Montreal would have to retain salary, which would mean that the ask would go up. I can’t even fathom how this trade would look, but it would have to include roster players, top picks, and prospects for a goaltender who has struggled with injuries. He actually just experienced a setback in returning to the ice.
Carey Price will have to start rehabilitation on his surgically repaired knee from the beginning, the Canadiens said Monday.— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) January 17, 2022
Coach Dominique Ducharme said "it's not a setback."https://t.co/AATd2E04Pu
Price would have to waive his no-move clause to make a trade —yet another hurdle in terms of this trade’s viability.
Jonathan Quick has a friendly cap hit (5.8M) but is 35 years old and has a contract through 2022-23. He will likely retire after that contract expires, but at least you would get another season of return for whatever you trade away. Cal Peterson is the starter now in LA, so Quick’s services are unutilized despite being paid for. That means the trade would likely benefit both sides, especially if Sakic can get LA to loosen up on requiring a top pick. Quick does not have a no-trade clause in his contract.
If Sakic isn’t in the business of risking significant equity for a proven veteran keeper, he will have some choices otherwise. Joonas Korpisalo seems to have lost the number one spot to Elvis Merzlikins and would be a viable option. However, he is a pending UFA and would be coming in as a rental.
The Avalanche could reunite with keeper Semyon Varlamov as well. He has had a tough go along with the Islanders this season, but he was lights out last year and in the playoffs. Considering Varly was squeezed out by Grubauer and Francouz, now would be a great time to make things right with the Avalanche’s second-winningest goalie ever.
TIME FOR A SPLASH
Joe Sakic has always been a genie at filling roster holes without jeopardizing the future. We’ve only seen him break that character after the Seattle Kraken and Philipp Grubauer came to terms at the Expansion Draft. He had no choice but to send Conor Timmins, a first-round pick, and a conditional third-round pick to land Darcy Kuemper. If Darcy Kuemper is out long-term, He may be in a similar situation now.
Super Joe is all too familiar with the importance of elite-goaltending. He witnessed the spectacle that was Patrick Roy coming to the Avalanche. Then and now, the organization is in a cup or bust window. There’s no easy fix, but the Avalanche have been a goalie away from true contention for far too long. It’s time to go all out and get one. Pay homage to the late Pierre Lacroix by shaking things up, big time, again.