Colorado Avalanche Likely to Have Goaltending Jam Next Season

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche now have three goaltenders who need NHL playing time. An issue that needs to be resolved is who the two goalies will be next season for the Avs.

It was recently reported that Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov will be healthy and is expected to be a part of the team next season.

If Varly does end up returning to the Avs next season, then the Avs will have a jam at the goalie position. A jam that may hinder the development of two of their up and coming young goalies.

Varly recently had season-ending hip and groin surgery, and the surgery is expected to help him return to form. This from Sakic:

"We’re very confident by doing this procedure, he’s going to be back where he once was."

The question is, what exactly does “back to where he once was” mean? Does that mean Vezina finalist form? Or does that just mean a reliable No. 1 goalie if behind a good defense?

The other problem is that if Varly does indeed return as the Avs’ No. 1 goalie, Calvin Pickard will once again be relegated to the backup role.

Related Story: Pickard Learning How to Become a No. 1 Goalie

And that’s a problem because Pickard will not develop into a No. 1 goalie unless he’s given the chance to play those minutes.

Speaking of developmental issues, if Spencer Martin does not get a chance to play as a NHL backup next season, his development could take a hit as well.

The point is, the Avs have a goalie jam, and it needs to be figured out.

Developing Goalies is a Tricky Thing

Sometimes, good goalies just come out of the woodwork ready to take over their team and lead them to a Stanley Cup victory.

Witness Matt Murray last season, as he backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Cup victory at the age of 21. The Pens are actually rather lucky as far as that is concerned because Marc-Andre Fleury won the Cup for them as a 24 year old in 2009.

And let’s not forget what Patrick Roy did for the Montreal Canadiens during his first few years as a NHL goalie.

However, most goalies take some time to develop into top tier netminders. Martin Jones — for the San Jose Sharks — just became a starter at the age of 25. Braden Holtby didn’t take over the No. 1 role until he was 25 either.

More From Mile High Sticking: Most Likely Trade Deadline Moves for Avs

Indeed, the Avs’ own Calvin Pickard has been somewhat forced into his starting role this season, and he’s 24. So, it’s definitely useful for potential starting goalies to stay behind the No. 1 goalie for a number of years before they inherit the position themselves.

Nonetheless, Calvin Pickard can no longer be a backup goalie, it is now in his best developmental interest to make sure he is the starter next season. And, if Varly returns next year, then Pickard’s development will most definitely take a hit. He may never develop into a starter if Varly returns.

However, the repercussions also extend to the development of Martin. Martin was an AHL All-Star this year, and he deserved the honors. On a bad San Antonio Rampage team, that has only won 21 games this year, Martin has 15 wins.

And, his performance at the NHL level has not been bad considering his age and playing time at the AHL level.

The point is, the Avs need to make a goalie decision this summer.


The Colorado Avalanche already have enough issues to worry about this offseason. However, goaltending needs to join the list.

The Avs need to figure out whether or not it is worth holding onto Varly and possibly hindering the development of Pickard and Martin.

Next: Avs Should Build Defense Along Capitals' Model

Goaltending is a fragile position just like defense. Fortunately, the Avs have a lot of depth at the goalie position, unlike other teams.

Regardless, Martin could certainly need more time to develop, and another year at the AHL level as a starter would most likely not be bad for the young man.

Hopefully the Avs learn how to develop their depth properly, and at this point, Varly could get in the way of that development.

A lot of decisions will be made this summer, and goaltending cannot be left off the list.