Colorado Avalanche: Evaluating the Pavel Francouz Signing

The Colorado Avalanche signed Czech goalie Pavel Francouz to a one-year contract, but that doesn’t really solve their goalie problem.

The Colorado Avalanche have a goalie problem.

Their top goalie is Semyon Varlamov. However, the often-injured goalie has just one more year on his contract. And it’s hard to imagine a goalie who will be 31 at the conclusion of that year will figure prominently in the Avs’ youth movement moving forward.

Other than that, Colorado has three NHL-tested goalies who become free agents on July 1 — Jonathan Bernier and Andrew Hammond will be UFAs, while Spencer Martin will be an RFA.

In the system, they have Joe Cannata, who has been tearing it up in the ECHL — he has limited AHL experience and no NHL experience. And the 28-year-old is also an unrestricted free agent this summer.

In the last two seasons, the Avalanche have drafted goalies — Adam Werner in 2016 and Petr Kvaca in 2017. As of now, neither has been signed to an entry-level contract. Both are still playing for their home countries — Werner in Sweden and Kvaca in the Czech Republic.

Enter Pavel Francouz, whom the Avs signed on May 2.

About Pavel Francouz

Age: 27 (28 on June 3)
Place of Birth: Plzen, Czech Republic
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 179 pounds
Catches: Right

The 27-year-old Francouz went undrafted and has played his entire career in his native Czech Republic. He has worked his way up the ranks of the Czeck leagues. He played the last three seasons for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL.

Here are his statistics:

As you can see, in the KHL Francouz has an impressive goals against average of just 1.80 and save percentage of .946.

It’s noteworthy that Francouz will be 28 by the time he plays his first game in North America.

Pavel Francouz’s Contract

The Colorado Avalanche signed Pavel Francouz to a standard contract. The length of the contract is just one year. His cap hit is $690,000 — he’ll make that at either the NHL level or the AHL level.

Because of his age at the time of playing out the contract, Pavel Francouz is waiver exempt. That means that, if they want to, the Colorado Avalanche can bounce him back and forth between the NHL and AHL without ever having to put him on waivers.

Fun Fact:

 

Evaluating the Francouz Signing

So, we return to the Avalanche’s goalie problem and how the Francouz signing fits into the situation.

Nothing will change about Semyon Varlalov. Unless the Avs do something radical this offseason, Varlamov will continue to be the starter.

How about Bernier and Hammond, both pending UFAs? Both would be 30 at the beginning of next season. Does the Francouz signing mean neither one will return?0

If I had my druthers, I’d re-sign Bernier — he’s an NHL-proven goalie. However, he does have injury issues and I question if he’s going to overcome his concussion syndrome.

I don’t blame Hammond for Game 6. He didn’t have much of a chance to showcase his worth for the Avalanche. But that also means he didn’t earn a spot with the team.

I’m guessing the Avs will sign the 22-year-old Martin to a two-way contract and keep him in the same role he played this season — AHL mainstay and occasional emergency backup.

So, about Francouz. Where does he fit in? I can’t imagine the Colorado Avalanche envision him as Varlamov’s backup. I’m guessing his contract amounts to more of an upgraded professional tryout.

 

Pavel Francouz will almost certainly attend training camp. But I imagine he will report to Loveland as the main goalie of the newly-minted AHL Colorado Eagles (vs ECHL). I think the Francouz might usurp Martin as the Colorado Avalanche’s emergency backup.