Although he has not played in a game since April 9th of the 2022-23 regular season, the Colorado Avalanche have announced that backup goaltender Pavel Francouz will miss the rest of the 2023-24 season with a lower-body injury. In the meantime, Francouz will return to the Czech Republic to be with his family and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
From the perspective of the Avalanche, Francouz’s status does give the team more long-term clarity on his LTIR relief, meaning the team will be guaranteed that Francouz’s $2MM salary will be off the books come the trade deadline. Unfortunately, the goaltender’s status does create a bit of an issue in the crease for the Stanley Cup contenders moving forward.
Although he has been a part of the team for the last five seasons, signing a one-year, $690 thousand contract out of the KHL before the 2018-19 season, Francouz will forever be a part of Avalanche history after his performance in the 2021-22 season. In 21 games played serving behind Darcy Kuemper, Francouz held a 15-5-1 record, with a .916 SV% and a 2.55 GAA, which are generally considered very solid numbers for a backup goaltender.
In the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, Francouz had to fill in on several different occasions as the starting netminder, especially during the Western Conference Finals against the Edmonton Oilers. In six games played during those playoffs, Francouz held a 5-0-0 record with a .907 SV%, including a shutout in game two of the team’s series against Edmonton, becoming a fundamental factor in their Stanley Cup victory.
Receiving an adductor surgery after the team’s first-round loss to the Seattle Kraken in last year’s playoffs, Francouz’s groin is still giving him too much trouble to compete at the NHL level. To replace Francouz in the backup spot, the team nabbed Ivan Prosvetov shortly before the start of the regular season on waivers, who had previously played for the Arizona Coyotes.
With Alexandar Georgiev receiving the healthy majority of starts in Colorado’s net, Prosvetov has only managed to squeak into four games, carrying a 1-1-0 record, coupled with a .899 SV% and a 2.90 GAA. The production has not been much better from Georgiev, who has a 7-4-0 record in 11 games but holds a .887 SV% and a 3.29 GAA, showing a stark falloff early in the season from where the Avalanche’s goaltending situation was only a season ago.