Arguably the most intriguing storyline of the offseason has been the duel between Alexandar Georgiev and Pavel Francouz. The two netminders both come into this season as seasoned “back-ups” without ever really having the starting job for their teams.
When the Colorado Avalanche decided to move on from Darcy Kuemper this past offseason, it looked as if Francouz had finally been promoted to the starting job for the Avs. However, the competition for the job heated up quickly after Colorado nabbed Georgiev from the New York Rangers and after Joe Sakic commented on the deal.
Sakic confirms that it’ll be Georgiev and Francouz as the 1-2 in net next season in an interview with ESPN. He seems to suggest that it’ll be Georgiev as the starter in the interview as well. Called Kuemper a “huge part of the team”, and said it was a “tough call” #GoAvsGo— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) July 8, 2022
With Sakic seeming to suggest Georgiev would get the starting job, it might’ve upset Francouz who’s been waiting in the wings behind Philipp Grubauer and Kuemper. However, Georgiev had been through a similar process backing up Igor Shesterkin in the Big Apple. There were even some untrue rumors that Francouz was unhappy with Georgiev supposedly becoming the new number one and wanted a move away, but those were quickly diminished.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s a risk. Spending only $5.4M on your two goalies is an interesting road to go down for the Avs, but worth the risk when you have the same core defensemen that just won you the Stanley Cup ahead of them.
Regardless, the two are locked into a battle for the crease that could honestly go either way. Georgiev is coming into an Avs team under pressure to adapt quickly to this new style of hockey. Francouz has been waiting for this time to come in as the new number one, but arguably still lacks behind the former starts the Avalanche have had in net.
Both goalies have their tendencies, positives, and negatives. Training camp has been a duel, and preseason games have had various results. Take preseason games with a grain of salt though, as different sides and features in a team and the opponent does not match up with what either netminder would see in a typical regular season game.
Francouz played twice while Georgiev played three times in the preseason. Both recorded a win, both against the Dallas Stars. Georgiev was pulled in both games against the Vegas Golden Knights, the latter game in a blowout for now-former Avs goalie Jonas Johansson. He left Johansson out to dry, leaving him trailing behind already conceding six goals in two periods. Meanwhile, Francouz’s other performance was one to not talk too heavily about either.
Arguably, neither really stood out in a big way compared to the other. Both seemed to have struggled in terms of rebounds. Georgiev in particular found some difficulties against Vegas but has slowly developed a little better. He’d been struggling with his glove during training camp and optional skates, but Jussi Parkala has also helped improve his mitt. He looked improved in the final preseason game a couple of games ago which only helps his case.
Meanwhile, Francouz was stellar in a preseason goaltending duel against Jake Oettinger to help his team pull off the win at the American Airlines Center. Frankie has always been superb at stepping up when called upon and it was no different in the preseason and at camp. His willingness, determination, and overall command when he is called upon might be the reason he could end up being the starter.
No matter what way you look at it, the two could also be very interchangeable. Jared Bednar may decide he wants to try a different style of goaltending depending on who the opponent is and push his team to match said style. We may not have an “official number one” goalie, but who knows?
Here’s the deal: two backups, looking to become the starter. The newcomer versus the regular in the locker room. One goalie looking for more time as a starter versus another trying to be the regular and not the overshadowed. One netminder with little playoff experience versus another who was quietly very influential in the run to the Cup.
Georgiev versus Francouz. We’ll know sometime between now and by the time they come out on the ice for warm-ups on Opening Night against the Chicago Blackhawks. Who gets the job in the end? Let us know what you think in the poll and comments below.
Who will be the starting goaltender for the Colorado Avalanche?
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