Phillip Grubauer #31 – Grade A+
What a season Phillip Grubauer had for the Colorado Avalanche. He saved the game for the team on many occasions, both in the regular season as well as during the Playoffs.
It was clear from early on in the season that Grubauer had worked hard during the offseason. He looked more flexible in the net. The tentativeness that had appeared last season was gone. This in part may have been due to him doing a lot of different conditioning work, as well as using a handheld gaming device to hone his skills more.
The one thing about watching goalies is noticing their confidence. As soon as their confidence drops you notice them moving about a lot in the net, that was not the case with Grubauer this season. He seemed the most confident in net than he has during the three years that he has been with the Avalanche.
He posted a record-high 7 shut-out wins this season. And whilst close wins don’t count as shutouts, there were a number of games where he only let in one goal. That was the case with a few of the nine losses he had.
Grubauer’s stats this season show why he has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy. He has truly shown himself to be one of the best goalies in the league with his performance.
Whilst this was a compact season, Grubauer stood up to playing every game for a number of stretches, and towards the end of the regular season the Avalanche went looking for a backup for him, just in case he sustained an injury and they needed someone in net during the Playoffs.
But, it wasn’t an injury that stopped his season. Grubauer is UFA right now with no contract for the upcoming season. The Avalanche will need to consider if he is the goalie to take them forward.
Jonas Johansson #35 Grade B
The Colorado Avalanche picked up Jonas Johannson from the Buffalo Sabres in mid-January as a backup for Phillip Grubauer, with Pavel Francouz out for the season. Initially, fans weren’t sure if they were confident Johansson could fill the spot with him letting in the first shot in several of his opening games with the league.
He turned that around though and ended with 5 regulation and 1 OT win from 7 starts. There were also two games in which he was substituted due to the scoreline.
It isn’t always easy for a goaltender to shift clubs mid-season as they need to orient themselves to the different plays of their new team. It’s therefore understandable that it took Johansson a few games to settle into the Avalanche’s style of play, and more importantly their defensive play.
In the later part of the regular season, he played more games and stood strong in the net, giving the fans confidence that he could fill in should anything happen to Grubauer.
Whilst he didn’t have a perfect season, given his move to a new club, the confined nature of the season, and everything else going on, for me he showed he has potential as a backup goalie.
Devan Dubynk #40 Grade C-
What a turn of events that the goaltender from one of the Avalanche fan’s arch-rivals, the Minnesota Wild and more recently the San Jose Sharks, should end up in an Avalanche jersey. And yet it happened.
Dubnyk was picked up before the trade deadline by Joe Sakic to be the #2 behind Phillip Gruabuer for the remainder of the regular season and into the post-season. He too, like Johannson joined the Club in mid-January and stepped into the goal, after Johannson.
With Dubnyk, the Avalanche picked up a veteran goalie, and whilst he knew his way around the net there were times when he looked slow compared to Grubauer and Johansson. Reasonable enough given he is six years older than Grubauer.
He too had to quickly learn the Avalanche’s brand of play, although given he has been in teams that have played against the Avalanche more times than others, he joked that he knew their play, just from the other end of the ice.
Dubnyk did a reasonable job in net, although given his experience it would have been great had he been stronger in net, and given the team more wins.
Hunter Miska #32 – Grade B
Hunter Miska was bought up to the Colorado Avalanche from the Colorado Eagles to spell Phillip Grubauer when it was clear Pavel Francouz was not going to be able to fill in as backup goalie.
Miska was unfairly targeted by fans when he let games slip, resulting in the 2 OT losses. And yet, it was evident that it was not only his breakdowns in the net that were the problem. For a young goaltender with minimal NHL experience, he showed that he is going to be a very capable goaltender.
Considering he was dropped into the role with a set of high expectations surrounding him, I consider he did a reasonable job and with further NHL experience, he will show his strength as a backup goalie.
Pavel Francouz #39 – Out for the season
Francouz was injured before the season got really underway and ended up on the Long Term Injured Reserve list, having surgery late in the regular season. Such a letdown for everyone after the promising season he had last year.
With Grubauer UFA, it will be interesting to see whether Joe Sakic considers Francouz good enough to step into the #1 spot, should Grubauer not be re-signed. Francouz currently has one year remaining on his contract with the Avalanche.