The State of Avalanche Goaltending


Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the emergence of Semyon Varlamov as an elite goaltender, where does this leave the other goalies in the system?

 J.S Giguère:  At the ripe age of 36, the time has come when Giguère should be considering retirement. The first half and last half of this season have been like night and day.  Earlier in the season, he shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that is currently 5th in the league when it comes to goals-per-game. A solid backup, until recently. He has looked lost in the crease, taken badly timed penalties, and dropped the ball on what are seemingly routine saves. With the acquisition of Reto Berra and an expiring contract, I think fans are in agreement that Giguère will no longer be an Av after this season.

Reto Berra: Picked up at the trade deadline for a hefty price of a 2014 2nd round draft pick, Berra has served as the 3rd string goaltender this season. He made his first start on Wednesday against the Jets. Although he forced the game into overtime, many, including myself, weren’t impressed by his performance.  The Swiss goaltender  posted a .815 save percentage, only stopping 22 of 27 shots. His new contract presumes leads me to believe he will serve as backup for at least the next 3 years. Considering he was given a contract extension before he even appeared in a game for us, one would assume he is our backup of the future.

Sami Aittokallio: 3rd string goaltender before the acquisition of Berra, Sami has only appeared in 2 games, finishing neither of them. One due to injury, and the other in a losing effort to the Tampa Bay Lightning, allowing 3 goals on 18 shots. He has a high ceiling and most we’re hoping he would back up Varlamov next season. Playing for Lake Erie, he has appeared in 27 games, posting a 2.58 GAA and a .912 save percentage. Sami brings stupendous reflexes and athleticism to the table. Paired with improving fundamentals, he will be a starting goaltender for a team that is not the Colorado Avalanche. I predict he will be traded within the next 2 years, and packaged in with another piece, he could fetch a pretty penny.

Calvin Pickard: Drafted 49th overall in the 2010 entry draft, Pickard is also projected to be a starting goaltender in the future. Highly touted while in the CHL, he became the WHL’s all time leader in saves (7,727). Serving as the starter for Lake Erie, he has earned slightly worse stats in 11 more games played. 2.87 GAA and a .903 save percentage average in 38 games on a below average Lake Erie team. He hasn’t appeared in a game for the Avs, which isn’t a good sign. Pickard is currently #4 on the depth chart for the Colorado Avalanche.

Spencer Martin: Martin currently netminds for the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League, he is starting in net for the playoffs. Starting on March 21st,  Martin allowed 5 goals in 3 periods. leading to a .868 GAA, in a losing effort. Throughout the regular season, he finished with 64 games played, a 3.54 GAA, and an .899 save percentage on a less-than-elite Steelheads team. He still has a few years in the OHL and will be a nice replacement for Pickard/Aittokallio in Lake Erie.

Kent Patterson: Currently possessing the starting job for the Denver Cutthroats, there isn’t much to say about Patterson. He went 1-1 in a brief stint in Lake Erie recently. A big guy who is positionally sound, but has trouble controlling rebounds is all that has been said for him. He may have a future in the NHL, but it won’t be with the Avs.

Millan Kieran: Kieran is Patterson’s backup for the Cutthroats. After starting 11 games for the minor league affiliate, he boasts a 5-3-2 record, posting a 2.68 GAA and a .921 save percentage. He started for Boston University most of his collegiate career, going 20-14-1 his senior year in 2012.  Being buried in the depth chart by superior talent, I doubt he see’s any success at the top level.

The Avalanche have drafted very well in recent years. One of the Avs’ strongest points is it’s netminder depth. Drafting 3 potential starters in Aittokallio, Pickard, and Patterson and having Varlamov earn our trust for years to come, it will be interesting to see how management deals with this situation.