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Landeskog, Girard out due to injury, Francouz re-signs with Avalanche

AJ Haefele Avatar
March 12, 2022

It was a big news day for the Colorado Avalanche as they got back on the ice after a disappointing three-game road trip that saw them go 1-2.

The most surprising news of the day was Gabe Landeskog’s decision to have knee surgery and will be out indefinitely, though that just means there is currently no clear timeline for a return but the feeling is that he will be back in time for the playoffs.

Landeskog, in the middle of what would have likely been a career year, has been battling the knee issue for a while now and it just wasn’t getting any better. The decision to do it now means he has plenty of runway to return for the postseason and it also has the side benefit of opening up financial flexibility for the Avalanche ahead of the upcoming trade deadline should the Avs choose to place him on long-term injured reserve.

The flexibility will be nice, but no doubt the Avs would prefer to have their captain back and healthy, which is the clear goal of the choice to do this right now.

Similarly, Sam Girard’s lower-body injury that caused him to return home early from the road trip and miss the showdown with the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night was deemed serious enough that he will be out for the next four weeks.

While Girard’s play can best be characterized as uneven this season, he’s an important cog on the defense and getting him healthy in time for the postseason will be a meaningful development.

The timeline for Girard’s injury means the team likely won’t have the same opportunity to benefit from it at the trade deadline as it does Landeskog’s injury, but given Colorado’s desire to add help to the blueline, Girard could be returning to a bolstered defense corps around him, which might really help him reset his own game and get back to being the quality two-way player we’ve seen the last two years especially.

That defense group could be getting an internal boost at some point, too, as Bowen Byram skated with the team during practice today. Still battling the concussion issues he’s struggled with last season and this, Byram was in a non-contact jersey but continues to ramp up his activities with and without the team in hopes of returning this season.

There remains no timeline for a Byram return as the club will wait as long as it has to for Byram to feel comfortable getting back into games. Keep in mind that Byram was granted a leave of absence from the club and the organization has turned over the keys to his recovery to Byram.

Even in the wake of the Girard news, the team won’t press Byram to return sooner than he is comfortable with. It’s Byram’s call and the Avs are still more concerned with getting his recovery right than him returning immediately.

That said, it’s not hard to envision the Avalanche trying to stay afloat with this defense group for the four games they have scheduled between now and the trade deadline (I’m counting their game on deadline day because any deal they make that day likely won’t result in an Avalanche debut until their next game).

They might look to the AHL for reinforcements as highly-touted Justin Barron is down there developing nicely, but we’ll see what the Avs want to do. There are plenty of options at their disposal right now.

In future news, goaltender Pavel Francouz ended any speculation about his future as the pending free agent decided to stay in Colorado as they took his last contract and copy and pasted new years on it.

That’s to say that Francouz’s new deal is functionally identical to the one currently expiring, a two-year deal worth $2M per season.

Francouz’s deal is the first domino in what will be a busy offseason full of big decisions for the Avalanche. The Avs faced total uncertainty as both Francouz and Darcy Kuemper were set to hit free agency this summer but now Francouz is back in the fold, ensuring some continuity at the position moving forward.

Francouz has been an important player for the Avs as he’s gone 10-3-1 this season with a .920 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average. Since coming to North America from the KHL four years ago, the 31-year-old netminder has gone 31-12-5 with a .923 save percentage in 50 NHL starts.

For fun, here’s Francouz’s player card:

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