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Avalanche Roundtable: Is goaltender Colorado's biggest weakness?

AJ Haefele Avatar
May 7, 2020

We’ve talked about goalies a lot in the last week here in this space as top prospect Justus Annunen signed his ELC and kicked off conversation revolving around the position. Yesterday, a report out of Pittsburgh indicated the Avalanche had shown serious interest in Matt Murray at the trade deadline and would potentially revisit the conversation in the offseason.

We talked about Murray specifically on yesterday’s podcast but we’re going with a little different angle in today’s roundtable.

Today’s topic: Considering all the moves made to bolster the forward corps and the upcoming young players at forward and defense, is goaltender now the biggest weakness on the Avalanche roster?

AJ: I think you can make a pretty good argument for that being the case right now. Colorado’s top six now has five bonafide players in it and Cale Makar’s emergence combined with Sam Girard and the inevitable arrival of Bowen Byram (and maybe Conor Timmins?) means the defense is set up very nicely for now and in the future. This is as deep and talented an Avs team as we’ve seen.

While the Avs currently sit fourth in save percentage at all strengths, their lack of clearly defined starter is somewhat of a concern. We’ve seen platoons be very successful through regular seasons before, but come playoff time you can’t be bouncing back and forth between netminders. You need to pick a guy. At various times this year, both Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz have played incredibly well and at other points left quite a bit to be desired. Together, they’ve been very good but you can only play one at a time in the postseason. I’d say it is the weakest position on the roster but only because there isn’t a clear-cut star there.

Evan: I would say yes, but when it comes to goaltending, I’m never confident in anything. Francouz has had a great regular season but has no experience in the postseason, and when a team gets multiple shots at him in a series with tape, are they going to be able to expose some weaknesses? Or will he keep cruising? On the flip side, Grubauer has been pretty inconsistent but stepped up in the postseason last year and when he gets hot, he’s tough to beat. The reality is that I wouldn’t feel comfortable even with a top tier goaltender in net, because the position is so hot and cold. I think both goaltenders can get the job done, but because the Avs are so deep up front and on defense, I would label it as the weak spot on the team simply because of the strength of the rest of the lineup.

Rudo: In the best way possible, yes. Outside of December and January, the Avs goaltending hasn’t been weak by any stretch of the imagination. Putting it at the bottom of the totem pole is more testament to how good the rest of this team is. The Avs have two true all-world talents in Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar anchoring their skating core. Superstars like Mikko Rantanen and upcoming talents like Bowen Byram behind them are nothing to scoff at. The Avs have the complete package all the way down when it comes to skaters, the depth they have created in just a few short years is incredibly impressive.

The goaltending situation finds itself somewhere in the middle. Depth isn’t really a major factor as teams only have two goalie spots to give. The Avs have two good, maybe even very good goaltenders but neither has proven to be of star caliber. The thing is, I believe the goaltending is capable of winning a cup. It may take getting hot at the right time but consistency in goal is a problem most teams in the league face. The fact is, all NHL teams should always be looking for avenues of improvement, and goaltender may be one for the Avs.


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