The cat is out of the bag – the Colorado Avalanche have a need in net, and they’re likely to acquire one prior to the NHL Trade Deadline.
Chris MacFarland said as much in his interview with Frank Seravalli this week. Alexandar Georgiev hasn’t been nearly as good this year as he was last season, and he’s simply playing too much. MacFarland mentioned that they would ideally like him playing around 55 games, and right now, he’s on pace to play over 65.
Ivan Prosvetov is here, but it seems pretty clear there isn’t a lot of trust in him holding things down in net. Justus Annunen is up with the team, but his situation is likely similar. The Avalanche need help in net, and it really isn’t a secret.
What about Marc-André Fleury?
On Thursday’s 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman threw out the idea. Here’s what he had to say.
“Now, Colorado, the roster they have now is not going to be the roster after the trade deadline. They’re going to be in it for Elias Lindholm. I’ll tell you this. Marc-André Fleury has the right to call his shot. He absolutely has the right to call his shot. He deserves it, he’s earned it, and you heard Minnesota say this week that they are not giving up on this season. But, if we get to a point where the Wild are out, to me, Colorado is one of those teams that’s going to ask – ‘Marc André-Fleury, would you be interested in this?’”
This didn’t sound like a scoop or anything, but more an idea that makes sense. And it kind of does.
Let’s start with the Wild. On Thursday, they announced that Jared Spurgeon, arguably their top defenseman, is out for the season. Bill Guerin said he’s not ready to throw in the towel on the season, but let’s be real here. The Wild are nine points out of a playoff spot, and have to jump five teams to even get there. Barring a miracle, it’s not happening, and they should be looking to sell at the deadline.
On paper, Fleury’s numbers don’t really look all that better than Georgiev’s. His goals against average is almost up to three, and his save percentage sits at .897. Georgiev sits at .896, so there’s hardly a difference.
Dig a little deeper, and his numbers look better. At 5-on-5, Fleury’s goals saved above average is +5.76. For comparisons sake, Georgiev is at -5.77. That’s a gap. Where they kind of flip-flop is on the penalty kill, where Fleury has really struggled, while Georgiev’s numbers aren’t terrible there. It’s worth noting that the Wild have the worst penalty kill in the NHL, while the Avalanche sit 11th. Goaltending certainly makes a difference down a man, but I don’t know if it’s the reason for such a large gap between the two teams.
There’s a difference in style of play on both teams, and certainly workload between the two goalies, but at even strength, where the majority of the game is played, the numbers say Fleury has been much better.
When you look at the Avalanche and what they have in net, what do they need? If Georgiev was playing well, the answer would probably be pretty simple – a backup goalie.
But he’s not playing all that well, and he doesn’t have much help.
It’s been a tough year for Georgiev, and when there’s little trust in the goalies behind him on the depth chart, even more pressure is placed on him to perform. The Avalanche really don’t have a fallback option here.
That’s why, on paper, a guy like Fleury does make a lot of sense. He’s not your typical backup goaltender, as he’s essentially been in a 1A/1B situation for a few years now. At 39, he also might not be a starter anymore. With Georgiev’s struggles, it would make sense to go out and get a guy like this that can give Jared Bednar some options on any given night.
This is where the Avalanche really miss Pavel Francouz. If he was healthy, he would have been this guy. He’s not, but Fleury might be able to recreate some of that magic for them. That’s why I’m starting to think Fleury is a fit, when in past years, he wasn’t.
The concept of what it would take to acquire Fleury is an entirely different beast. His cap hit is $3.5 million, and the Avalanche simply can’t take that on by itself. Minnesota would have to retain, and even then it might be difficult to fit that in, especially with other holes in the lineup.
As for what the Avalanche would send the other way? That’s also tricky. This whole situation is made more complicated by the fact that Fleury has a full no-move clause in his contract, and like Friedman mentioned, he will be able to call his shot on where he wants to go, if he wants to leave at all. I can’t imagine he wants to go to a team that isn’t a contender, and how many contenders would actually be interested in his services? If Fleury is calling the shots, and there isn’t a huge market for him, that would seem (to me, at least) to limit how much the Wild can get for him. If he’s only willing to go to a few teams, those teams kind of have the power to limit what they’d give the Wild.
There’s a lot that would need to be figured out to make a deal like this happen, but for a few years, fans have thrown around the idea of Fleury to the Avalanche.
This season, it actually does make sense.