Avalanche trade for goalie Alexandar Georgiev likely signals end to Darcy Kuemper’s time in Colorado

Avalanche trade for goalie Alexandar Georgiev likely signals end to Darcy Kuemper’s time in Colorado

The Avalanche will likely defend its Stanley Cup title next season with a new starter in net.

Colorado acquired New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev in exchange for NHL draft picks on Thursday to signal the likely end of Darcy Kuemper’s time with the Avs.

Kuemper, 32, posted a .921 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average in the regular season before winning the Cup. He is expected to leverage that success into a salary bump when he hits the market as an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, according to media reports.

It appears Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic will prioritize spending elsewhere as he faces a number of tough roster decisions. Kuemper’s cap hit in 2021-22 was $4.5 million while Georgiev came in at $2.425 million. Sakic’s reluctance to re-sign Kuemper might also stem from his dip in the playoffs. Kuemper’s .902 postseason save percentage was the lowest by a Cup-winning goalie since 1988.

The Avalanche sent three draft picks to New York — third- and fifth-round selections in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2023 — in the trade. It represents a huge career opportunity for the 26-year-old native of Bulgaria.

The Rangers did not provide Georgiev (6-foot-1, 178 pounds) a featured role in net over five years in New York thanks to the emergence of Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin. Georgiev posted a 15-10-2 record last season, including an 8-1-0 run with two shutouts over his last nine starts.

Exactly how the Avalanche will utilize Georgiev among its goalie corps moving ahead is undetermined.

The Avs return backup Pavel Francouz, who performed well over seven playoff appearances (six starts) with a 6-0 record and .906 save percentage. Is Francouz, a reliable backup when healthy, in a position for a more significant role? Is Georgiev a true No. 1? Will they work in tandem?

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