For the forseeable future, the Avalanche will carry two No. 1 goaltenders in veteran Semyon Varlamov and newcomer Philipp Grubauer. One of them will serve as backup on opening night, Oct. 4, but coach Jared Bednar confirmed Thursday he will offer equal opportunities and go with the hot hand throughout the season.
The oft-injured Varlamov, 30, is beginning the final year of his contract. Grubauer, 26, was acquired in a trade-and-sign deal in June after beginning the playoffs as the starting goalie for the Washington Capitals, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. Grubauder signed a three-year contract worth $10 million with Colorado.
Jonathan Bernier began last season as Varlamov’s backup. Calvin Pickard served the same role in 2016-17. The German-born Grubauer played in 35 games for the Caps last season, finishing with the NHL’s 11th highest save percentage of .923.
“We felt like we needed a goalie who can come in and help solidify the position, and we feel like we have that in Philipp Grubauer,” Bednar said Thursday at his season-opening news conference. “We know how important goaltending is. I’ve stressed it over and over again that I think you need above-average goaltending if not excellent goaltending to finish at the top of a division or make a deep playoff run. Having both those guys, it gives up options. I think there’s a healthy competition from these guys. They both want the net.”
If all things are equal Oct. 4 against Minnesota at the Pepsi Center, Bednar said he’d “lean” towards starting Varlamov because of his established trust with the team.
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Footnotes. Bednar will keep star center Nathan MacKinnon and wingers Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen together as the Avs’ top line. The so-called “MGM Line” was one of the league’s most dangerous last season, but Bednar sees substantial growth potential. MacKinnon turned 23 on Sept. 1 and Rantanen will be 22 next month. Landeskog is 25. … Bednar confirmed he will maintain the same leadership structure as last season, with MacKinnon and defenseman Erik Johnson serving as alternate captains under Landeskog, the captain. … Second-year forwards Alex Kerfoot and Tyson Jost are in position to become the Avs’ second-line center, Bednar said, and the coach intends to keep them on the same line — possibly with second-year forward J.T. Compher, who also is a natural center. “Part of what the organization did in …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Sports