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When players have an option between testing the free agent waters and staying where they’re familiar, it’s always interesting to see which the player prioritizes.
Given Pavel Francouz’s age (29) and strong rookie season this year, it was reasonable to expect he might get intriguing offers to play more for bad teams, potentially even getting a chance to start for someone.
Instead, Francouz chose to bypass that process on Friday when he and the Colorado Avalanche came to an agreement on a new two-year contract worth $2M each season. Francouz will make $2.3M next year and $1.7M in the second season of the deal.
The contract is a reward for Francouz’s strong season as Philipp Grubauer’s backup and part-time starter when Grubauer has faced injury issues, such as right now.
Francouz is 14-5-3 in 21 starts (and 24 games played) with a 2.44 goals-against-average and .923 save percentage.
While the surface stats have been very good, some of the underlying numbers used for goalies suggest he hasn’t been quite as strong as the raw save percentage would lead one to believe (see: fancy stuff below).
There’s nothing wrong with that as Francouz is still slated as the backup but with the fresh two-year deal, should Grubauer fail to cement his status as the long-term starter, Francouz will be around to provide a high-quality buffer.
The deal also sets up the rest of this season and next year as an opportunity for both Grubauer and Francouz to play for the protection afforded via the expansion draft process as each team is allowed to protect just one netminder.
The new price tag for Francouz ties him with Mike Smith of Edmonton and Brian Elliott of Philadelphia for the 41st highest-paid goaltender in the NHL. Given the relative strength of Francouz’s play, that’ll do just fine.
It was smart business from Colorado to reward Francouz for taking every challenge thrown his way, from succeeding as the starter last year for the Colorado Eagles and then as the backup in Denver this year, and today’s agreement was Francouz saying the relationship was mutually beneficial as he will continue to play for a Stanley Cup contender for at least another year.
Let’s get to those fancies: