DENVER – On Saturday, the Colorado Avalanche acquired Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.
The move ended weeks of conjecture that Colorado was looking to pick up another netminder for their goaltending depth chart. With usual NHL back-up Pavel Francouz on Long-Term Injured Reserve as of February 1, the Avs needed to do something in order not to overload starter Phillip Grubauer. The question is, will the move be enough to keep the Avalanche competitive — and Grubauer rested enough so he doesn’t get hurt again?
LONG STORY OF GOALTENDING WOES, BUT A DIFFERENT PLOT
Ever since the 2019-20 season, the Avalanche have battled against injuries at the goaltending position.
Grubauer went down with a lower-body injury during the Stadium Series on February 17, 2020. After the Coronavirus pandemic pushed the 2020 NHL Playoffs out to August/September, Grubauer again succumbed to injury in the first round. In the second round. Stepping up admirably was Pavel Francouz, but he was injured in Game 5, forcing Michael Hutchinson into service for Games 6 & 7.
Concerns about Grubauer’s durability preceded him coming into the 2020-21 campaign, especially with Francouz on the shelf as previously mentioned. Grubauer has proved the doubters wrong so far, going 18-7-0 with five shutouts, a 1.74 GAA, and .929 SV%.
An alarming fact, though, is that Grubauer has started 24 (and played in 25) games out of Colorado’s 29 total — 82.8% of the Avs’ regular season campaign thus far.
HOW LONG COULD ‘GRUBS’ KEEP IT UP?
Grubauer boasted an 8-2-0 in March before Johansson physically joined the club on March 21. Even though he is/was an integral part in the Avalanche currently sitting second in the Honda West Division standings, it is an uncommon occurrence for a goaltender to carry such a heavy load in the modern age of hockey. Only ten netminders have started in over 20 games at this point in the season, and Grubauer’s pace of starting almost 83% of Colorado’s games this year compares to only one goalie from last year — Carey Price (81.7% of starts for Montreal in 2019-20). While the Canadiens went out and traded for Jake Allen in September to help with Price’s workload, the Avs were seemingly set with Grubauer and Francouz until a seemingly season-ending injury derailed the year for the latter.
WHAT DOES JOHANSSON BRING TO THE TABLE?
Colorado’s acquisition of Jonas Johansson left many fans and pundits scratching their heads. While Johansson has had success at both the AHL and ECHL levels, his NHL numbers aren’t very impressive at all. In 13 games played over two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Johansson carries a 1-8-2 record, a 3.39 goals against average, and .888 save percentage. Sometimes a change of scenery does a goalie good, but can the Avalanche bank on Johansson turning that corner?
WHAT DOES THE GOALTENDING DEPTH CHART LOOK LIKE NOW?
The Avalanche made the paper transaction of assigning Johansson to the AHL’s Colorado Eagles right after trading for him Saturday. A day later, Adam Werner was shuffled down from the main roster to the taxi squad, with Johansson taking his place behind Grubauer on Emergency Loan. Rookie Peyton Jones was also relegated from the Avalanche taxi squad to the Eagles active roster.
Here’s a more aesthetically pleasing flow chart for the Avs organization, including the Eagles, and — what the hell! — the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies.
- Phillip Grubauer
- Jonas Johansson
- Adam Werner (Taxi Squad)
- Pavel Francouz (LTIR – Inactive)
- Hunter Miska (sent to AHL Colorado on March 19)
- Peyton Jones
- Parker Gahagen
- Kevin Carr
- Brad Barone
- Trevor Gorsuch
- Garrett Metcalf (ATO)