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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25: #9 Justus Annunen

It’s a big year ahead for the goaltender.

NHL: JUN 04 Western Conference Finals Game 3 - Avalanche at Oilers Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey staff. Five writers have ranked players under the age of 25 in the Colorado Avalanche organization as of July 1, 2023. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.

It is an important year ahead for the highest goaltender on our list, who has been the only netminder in the system for years with a visible path to the NHL. Justus Annunen just completed his Entry Level Contract and is back on a two-way one-year contract for the upcoming season at the league minimum of $775K.

After getting selected in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft, Annunen has been on a slow and steady climb up the organizational ladder after beginning his career in Finland. In his second year in the AHL, he posted excellent numbers with a 2.55 GAA and a .916 save percentage. That performance earned him another couple games with the Avalanche including a 19-save win over the St. Louis Blues for his second career win.

There still have been some bouts of inconsistency, however, and Annunen continues to fight for the net at times with the Colorado Eagles as he saw Jonas Johansson play over him in the AHL playoffs. This season Annunen will likely see a tandem with newcomer Arvid Holm, who was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 2017 but signed as a free agent with the Avalanche, and the duo will jockey for position to become the organization’s third goaltender and top call up option.

It is the final year of the netminder’s waiver exemption so tough decisions will need to be made on the path of Annunen’s future at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season. Pavel Francouz will also see his contract conclude at that time and if the Avalanche decide that due to age, health, or salary cap reasons, it’s time to move on from him it would be a prime opportunity for Annunen to seize the backup role he’s been working for years to ascend to. If the organization will look in another direction to fill that position it might be time for Annunen to move on as well.

2023 Top 25 Under 25

#10 Ben Meyers

#11 Sam Malinksi

#12 Jason Polin

#13 Ondrej Pavel

#14 Alex Beaucage

#15 Sampo Ranta

#16 Taylor Makar

#17 Jeremy Hanzel

#18 Trent Miner

#19 Colby Ambrosio

#20 Gianni Fairbrother

#21 Matt Stienburg

#22 Chris Romaine

#23 Maros Jedlicka

#24 Andrei Buyalsky

#25: Nikita Ishimnikov