It may be time for Avalanche fans to start scanning those lists of goalies that may be available on the open market starting Wednesday. Unfortunately, Philipp Grubauer may very well be on such lists.
Listen, things can change quick in this business. There are still about 48 hours before Grubauer can hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. But this much I can report with confidence: things are stuck in the mud between Grubauer and the Avs regarding negotiations on a new contract.
Just a day or two ago, I was picking up signs that there might be some movement in the talks. But that movement, if it happened at all, has stopped. Stopped short – well short I think – of what it would take to get Grubauer’s signature on a new deal.
So, are we having fun yet this summer Avs fans? The odds seemingly are growing stronger that the Avs could lose their No. 1 goaltender – a Vezina Trophy finalist – for nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Let’s take a look at this from Grubauer’s perspective here, for a second: Here’s a guy coming off his best NHL season, who is still only 29 (he’ll turn 30 in November) who is in UFA status as a player. This is likely the last, big-money contract he’ll sign the rest of his career. He went 30-9-1 for the Avs, with a 1.95 goals-against average and .922 saves percentage. He bested St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington in the first round of the playoffs and was tremendous in the first three games of the next round against Vegas. The final three games against Vegas? No, not as good. Not at all. His saves percentages in those final three games: .857, .880 and .773.
But still, it was a tremendous year and he’s taking a look around the league and seeing guys like Binnington sign a six-year, $36 million deal with the Blues before he was even a UFA. He sees guys like Matt Murray ($6.25 million in Ottawa) and Jacob Markstrom ($6 million with Calgary) making much more than him, in that $6 million range.
So, yeah, I think Grubauer is wanting at least $6 million on his next deal, and thinks he’ll get it from someone. (And, forget about a guy like Sergei Bobrovsky, currently making $10 million a year with Florida).
I don’t know the numbers that have gone back and forth from the Avs and Grubauer’s camp. But it seems more than just circumstantial evidence by now that the Avs aren’t offering $6 million a year on a long-term deal.
I gotta admit, I’m maybe more shocked that Grubauer might walk away for nothing than I am with the possibility of Gabe Landeskog doing that. I mean, last I checked, goaltending is a pretty important position on a hockey team.
The Avs let Semyon Varlamov walk free a couple years ago and he has helped the New York Islanders get to back-to-back conference finals since, taking the Tampa Bay Lightning to a seventh game not too long ago.
Is Joe Sakic being just too stubborn here? Or, is he being prudent, knowing that other teams have regretted giving a boatload of money to goalies recently (Markstrom, Bobrovsky, Murray and even Binnington perhaps) that have all underperformed for their teams since signing big, long-term deals.
As Sakic himself said the other day, time will tell. I don’t believe the talks are dead. Just, not going anywhere at the moment.
Meanwhile, here’s a good story with all the goalies that could be available.