With the season for the Colorado Avalanche complete, it’s time to take a look back at the individual players and how they performed.
First up? Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.
For the first time in a few years, the Avalanche will enter an off-season knowing exactly who their starting goaltender will be the following season. That makes GM Chris MacFarland’s job a little easier.
Georgiev, who entered the season unproven as a starter in the NHL, erased many, if not all, questions about whether or not he could handle the role. The Avalanche took a chance on Georgiev last summer, and it paid off. Big time.
Let’s take a look at Georgiev’s numbers from this past season:
Starts: 62 (career high)
Save Percentage: .919
Goals Saved Above Average: 26.44 (6th in NHL)
Shutouts: 5 (Tied for Second in NHL)
Wins: 40 (Tied for First in NHL)
Any way you look at it, Georgiev had a phenomenal year. Like any goaltender, there were some dips in his play, with the most noticeable one coming in early January. With Pavel Francouz out due to injury, Georgiev started 12 straight games, and with the team struggling at the time, he wasn’t at his best. The Avalanche and their coaching staff decided to have Georgiev take a week off once Francouz returned, giving the goaltender a chance to mentally reset.
It worked. Georgiev returned to the net and never looked back. He gave the team a chance to win every single night, and even managed to steal some games down the stretch. The win over Minnesota in the middle of February comes to mind. On the second half of a back-to-back, Georgiev stopped 41 shots, leading Colorado to a win over the Wild, despite the team being heavily outplayed. After that game, he told me usually feels better on the second night of a back-to-back. An opportunity like that just wasn’t available to him in New York.
His big breakout performance actually came against his former team at the end of October. Georgiev made 44 saves, out-dueling Igor Shesterkin on national television. In the shootout, an area he excelled at this year, he stopped three of four shots, securing the win.
In order to acquire Georgiev, the Avalanche had to give up two third-round picks, and a fifth round pick. At the time, it was considered a risk, as Georgiev’s numbers had dipped over the course of a few seasons, and he was unproven as a starter.
In hindsight, it appears to be a steal. The Avalanche now have a starting goaltender under contract for two more seasons at a very reasonable $3.4 million cap hit, and all they had to give up were some mid-round draft picks, which have a low chance of hitting in the first place. Joe Sakic’s last trade as the general manager looks pretty good right now.
Season Grade: A
How could it be anything else? Georgiev surpassed all expectations this season. Before the campaign even started, the Avalanche thought they found their starting goaltender, but knew they had Francouz there to spell him. For most of the second half, Francouz wasn’t even an option, but it didn’t matter. Because of that, the Avalanche enter the summer with zero questions as to who their starter will be in 2023-24. A welcome change from the past few off-seasons.