One area the Colorado Avalanche aren’t particularly stressed out about is in goal. With Semyon Varlamov locked in as the No. 1 guy and Jean-Sebastien Giguere backing him up, they’re all set there.
The question is: What version of Varlamov is the real one? Fans in Colorado have seen two different performances from him during his two seasons in Denver.
Take a look at Varlamov’s numbers over the last three seasons (one with Washington) and you’ll be left wondering the same thing.
2010-11: 11-9-5 .924 SV% 2.23 GAA (Washington)
2011-12: 26-24-3 .913 SV% 2.59 GAA
2012-13: 11-21-3 .903 SV% 3.02 GAA
Neither season with the Avalanche is overly inspiring but the work he’d done in Washington was enough to inspire GM Greg Sherman to give up a first-round pick for him. His save percentage numbers in the ’11-’12 season don’t even crack the Top 20 in the league and he was outplayed by Giguere.
Last season was a disaster all around for the Avs and was highlighted by the terrible play of their defense. It’s difficult to be hard on Varlamov for that, but his meager numbers from the previous season took a further beating.
That’s cause for concern, but the Avs may have addressed that by hiring Patrick Roy as their new coach. You’d have to think if anyone can help a goalie figure out their game it’d be a Hall of Famer of Roy’s ilk. After all, Varlamov is still young at age 25 and headed into his sixth NHL season.
If Roy can help Varlamov out, the Avs won’t have to sweat out goaltending at all. If not, 21 year-olds Sami Aittokallio and Calvin Pickard will be waiting in the AHL for an opportunity. Colorado is hoping it doesn’t have to come to that.
Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Colorado Avalanche
There may not have been another team this summer who embraced what it meant to go “back to the future” the way the Colorado Avalanche did.
They fired coach Joe Sacco and replaced him with Patrick Roy. Then they brought former captain Joe Sakic on board as the Executive VP of Hockey Operations all while GM Greg Sherman sits by nervously waiting for the ax to fall on him. Even former defenseman Adam Foote was also added as a defensive coach.
With all that change in the team, it seems to have invigorated some interest in what’s a fascinating young team. With Roy’s addition, the Avalanche will either be entertaining because they’ll be a fun, young team to watch or because Roy will lose his mind when they struggle. Win/win?
Their front office and coaching stuff was only part of the fun. They brought back former Sakic linemate Alex Tanguay in a deal with Calgary that also saw Cory Sarich come to Denver. David Jones and Shane O’Brien headed out the door to make that happen.
The NHL Draft saw them land offensive powerhouse Nathan MacKinnon with the No. 1 overall pick. The team has already said MacKinnon will be right there to start the season and having him joining up with recently extended forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene gives Colorado one hell of a young core.
With focus on the youth, not much attention has been paid to long-time veteran Milan Hejduk who is hoping to catch on with another team. That must be awkward with all of his old teammates coming back to roost in the organization.
Free agency saw them not do a whole lot adding depth along the blue line with Andre Benoit (Ottawa), Nate Guenin (Anaheim), and Nick Holden (Columbus) joining the team. The latter two will likely spend more time in Cleveland in the AHL than Denver.
All that aside, hope everyone has their popcorn waiting for the moment Coach Roy blows his top the first time. It’s going to be great.
Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series
Joe Sacco’s run as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche is over.
The team announced they’ve relieved Sacco of his head coaching duties after four years on the job and after yet another disappointing season, the writing was on the wall.
In his tenure as the Avs bench boss, Sacco took the team to the postseason just once during his first season on the job in 2009-10 as the team piled up 95 points in the standings and lost to San Jose in six games in the first round.
Since then it’s been nothing but mediocrity as they’ve missed the playoffs in three straight seasons. The Avs have put up the second-worst record in the league in two of those years.
Sacco’s record in Colorado tops out at 130-134-14 and now he’ll head to Finland and Sweden to coach Team USA in the World Championships. The Avalanche have not announced a replacement as of yet and Sacco may not be the only one out the door as GM Greg Sherman could soon follow.
It’s understandable why general managers Jay Feaster and Greg Sherman have taken the forefront of discussion when it comes to Ryan O’Reilly finally getting signed, but he’s excited about finally getting back to action with the team.
O’Reilly will join the team today to hit the ice for practice and as Adrian Dater of The Denver Post notes from an interview the player did with a London, Ontario radio station, the wait was worth the payoff. When it comes to the two-year, $10 million deal he knows just how big it is.
“It was a big number. I didn’t really expect that,” O’Reilly said. “But it’s great. It’s what we wanted, and was worth it to wait this long. Now it’s strictly business now, as it was then – just perform on the ice.”
O’Reilly says he’s not sure what to expect from the fans when he finally suits up, but it’s safe to say if he doesn’t come out flying and helping turn the Avalanche season around, things will get ugly. Should he prove the wait was worth it and the Avs climb back into the teeth of the postseason race, fans in Denver will wonder why the team didn’t act sooner.
It was reported last night that the Colorado Avalanche and restricted free agent Erik Johnson were getting close to finalizing a deal, and today they’ve put pen to paper.
The Avs announced they’ve reached an agreement with Johnson to a four-year contract. Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports the deal is worth $15 million, good for a $3.75 million cap hit.
Johnson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft by St. Louis, was acquired by Colorado two seasons ago in a blockbuster deal that sent Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to the Blues. Johnson seemed to grow up and into his game upon reaching Denver and helps make this already cap-friendly deal even better for the Avs.
Taking this deal and matching it up to the two-year contract the Avs signed Matt Duchene to, you have to start wondering if GM Greg Sherman might just be a salary cap wizard or has some magic tricks up his sleeve when it comes to keeping his own guys. That’s a lot of talent signed on for a reasonable number of years and (potentially) below market value.