The Colorado Avalanche have an interesting situation brewing in goal, as both Jonathan Bernier and Andrew Hammond are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, while Jeremy Smith will become a restricted free agent this summer. Semyon Varlamov also has just one season left on his current deal, leaving a lot of uncertainty moving forward.
Enter Pavel Francouz, who was signed by Colorado to a one-year contract today. The 27-year old goaltender has dominated the KHL for several years, and is now apparently ready to start his North American career. Adrian Dater of BSN Denver reports that the contract is worth $690K, and is a one-way deal.
Francouz posted a .946 save percentage in 37 starts this season in the KHL, which was actually a step backwards from the incredible .953 mark he registered in 2016-17. To say that he’s been good is an understatement, and he’ll finally get his chance to prove that he can do it at the NHL level. The reason he hasn’t gotten that chance before now is very simple—he’s tiny.
Listed at 6’0″ by the Avalanche—but 5’11” at other times—he doesn’t have the usual size of an NHL goaltender, who routinely measure in at 6’2″ or taller. That obviously gives them an advantage, one that he’ll have to overcome if he’s to make an impact at the highest level.
Colorado might be the best place to do it, as they have recent experience with Bernier who usually ranks in as one of the league’s smallest netminders. Whether Bernier will be retained is unclear at this point, but Francouz offers them a talented goaltender who could potentially be an upgrade on what they currently have.