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Avalanche Mailbag: Whither Martin Kaut, and do the Avs need an enforcer?



Let’s do an Avalanche Mailbag here. Been a while since the last one. I want to catch y’all up on some site stuff first though and a couple other housekeeping items.

My colleague Scott “Mac Daddy” MacDonald is going to be making his maiden voyage on behalf of Colorado Hockey Now travel this weekend, to Lake Tahoe to cover the Avs outdoor game against the Golden Knights. Normally, I would go to something like that, but Mrs. Dater is going to Mexico the same day as the game (Sat.) for a girls week, with her mom and a couple others. I’ll stay in Thornton and hold down the fort with young Thomas Dater.

So, Scott is going to hit the road for his first Avs road trip ever. He’ll be providing a fun (I hope) travel diary of sorts, and will have pictures and observations that nobody else will have.

Thank you to several of you for chipping in on the Avs Travel Tip Jar for this. Scott is going to be taking a late, late flight Friday night, then driving three hours to Tahoe, staying one night in a hotel after the game and coming back fairly early Sunday morning. Even for that short amount of time, that still ran a few hundred bucks, so your Tip Jar donations were appreciated. And, hey, if you still want to chip in don’t let us stop you. Link to chip in is here. On Friday, I will be taking the accumulated 5% of your donation proceeds and making a big donation to the Thornton Food Bank. I’ll show pictures. It’s always one of the highlights of my life, being able to give like that and I have you to thank. I will be adding to the donation above and beyond the 5%.

I will also hit the road starting next week for games in San Jose. Why go to games, you ask, when fans aren’t in the stands and you can’t go into the locker rooms? Well, because, that’s why. I always think it’s better to be on the scene for games, if you can afford it. We are economical in our travel, now and forever. No more hotels with doors to the outside, though.

I also wanted to, again, announce that CHN has a partnership now with SuperBook, the legendary Las Vegas sportsbook that has now ventured into Colorado.

And, man do I have a couple of offers for you:

  • First-time depositors get a free, matching first bet up to $300. If you lose your first bet, up to that $300 amount, you get all that money put right back into your account to bet any way you want.
  • If you don’t take advantage of this next offer, you’re saying no to an easy, easy $50. As a special thank you to Avs fans and bettors at SuperBook (and this applies to existing members, not just first-timers) SuperBook Colorado is giving three goals on the Avs at +100 for Saturday’s game in Lake Tahoe. That means: if you take the Avs at +3 goals at +100, and say you bet $50, you will win your $50 back plus another $50 on top of it – provided the Avs don’t lose by four goals to the Golden Knights. I’d say that’s a pretty good bet, wouldn’t you? Take advantage of this offer by clicking here.

OK, on to the Mailbag:

J., first off, Kaut has been hurt of late. Don’t know exactly what’s wrong, but a representative from the Eagles told me Kaut didn’t play the first couple of games because of injury. The Eagles went 0-1-1 in their first two games, at Bakersfield. Greg Pateryn scored goals in both games, including one late in the second game that sent it to OT. Colorado played their third game Wednesday night in Ontario, Calif., which is happening as I write this. Kaut was not in the lineup.

As for Bowers, he just hasn’t been given a chance yet this season with the big club, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that. He drew good marks from coach Jared Bednar in training camp. We probably won’t see Bowers unless other injuries happen, or if management just wants to see him for a game or two. But in a condensed schedule, and a dogfight to win the division, the Avs can’t be a footloose and fancy free with call-ups as they might in an 82-game season.

David, unfortunately, Girard’s iron-man streak did end because of that. Time to start a new one. He probably won’t play until next week against either Vegas or Arizona.

As for Makar: I mean, is it a thing that makes anyone happy, these little dings that keep him out? No. If you’re asking if I’m worried he’s kind of becoming an injury-prone guy, I would say I’m not too worried about that – yet. I think, as he gets even older, stronger and savvier, he’ll (hopefully) know how to take care of his body better.

It’s a joke at my expense and I’ve told this before, but: I was short on clean clothes at the end of a road trip in my rookie year, 1995-96, and was in San Jose on like a Sunday afternoon when not much was open downtown. Pierre Lacroix invited the media out to dinner that night and I didn’t want to look like a bum with dirty clothes, so I went out searching for a new outfit. The only thing open where I could buy clothes of any kind was an Army/Navy store. I somehow thought I pair of slack that had a very purplish color looked snazzy, so I bought them. Not only did I go to dinner in them that night and drew a funny stare from Pierre, but I wore them to the morning skate the next day against the Sharks.

I went into the Sharks room to get some notes in there before the Avs’ skate, and Sharks veteran Marty McSorley took one look at me and said “Bad pants, man.”

The Avs were unmerciful on me. Adam Deadmarsh laughed and laughed and wanted to get the boys together to throw me in the shower with them on. Joe Sakic labeled me “Barney” and that name stuck much of the rest of the year. I threw the pants out when I got home.

Sigh, well….it’s still a fuzzy situation regarding Francouz. I think he’s still at least a couple weeks away, at best. I think the Avs are going to try and limp through with just Grubauer and Hunter Miska/Adam Werner until then. Miska currently is on the Covid list, so it’s Werner as backup right now. This is not an ideal situation. If Sakic has to go looking around for goalie help, I’m wondering if Devan Dubnyk might not be an option? You’ve got to think the Sharks don’t have too much faith they’ll make the playoffs, and maybe might part with Doobie? I know many of you just gagged at that prospect, but, hey, he’s got quite a bit more experience than a Miska or Werner.

Dubnyk has only this year left on his contract, at a $4.3 million cap hit. If Francouz has to stay on LTIR, maybe the Avs could afford to bring him in. Maybe the Sharks would take some of that salary off their hands too.

Yes, I think Justus Annunen is the goalie of the future, but probably not for another two to three years. In the meantime, you’ve got to start thinking hard about trying to re-sign Grubauer to an extension. He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and he’s been one of the best goalies in the league so far.

Make no mistake, Grubauer would command a pretty nice price right now. His cap hit this season is $3.3 million. If he keeps having the kind of season he’s having, he’ll probably get into the $5 million range as a UFA. If he leaves for nothing, uh…we’ll have a problem. Maybe Annunen would be put on a faster track if that’s the case.

Forwarded to Avs PR.

For me, this is a tough question, because I do believe that big, intimidating guys still matter in hockey. But you’ll get plenty of pushback on that nowadays too. I mean, an enforcer has to be able to skate and play the game too. Ryan Reaves of Vegas is probably the best “enforcer” in the league now, and he does create space for his teammates out there and gives them some swagger. Would I like to see the Avs get a bit bigger and nastier still? Yeah.

I thought they were pushed around a bit too much in the Dallas series. Yet, you can’t have some slug out there either, as a liability. It’s a tough call, but I do think the Avs need a badass type on the team still.

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