The 2008-2009 campaign was one of major disappointment for the Colorado Avalanche. Major changes are taking place in the front office. The same rebuilding needs to occur on the ice. The Avalanche put together their worst statistical season since moving to Denver this past winter and are in need of serious personnel changes. These changes should start between the pipes.
Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft put fear into two NHL head coaches last year: Joel Quenneville and then Tony Granato Both players are fine as a backup ‘tenders but neither has #1 skills. Luckily for the Avalanche, there are several free agent netminders available as of today. Nikolai Khabibulin is on top of most GM’s lists. Most fans would think that “The Bulin Wall” would be on Colorado’s wish list. However, the word out of Chicago is that the Blackhawks will resign the 36 year old and shop for a trade partner for Cristobal Huet. Huet, at age 33, has a few seasons of prime hockey playing left in the tank. In 6 NHL seasons, Cristobal Huet has a solid .917 save percentage and a respectable record of 103-76-17. He would certainly be an upgrade over both Budaj or Raycroft. Huet signed a pretty big contract last summer in Chicago and I’d have to think that Colorado would take it over to better their organization.
Another possibility would be free agent goalie Scott Clemmensen. Clemmensen came out of nowhere in 2008-2009. When Martin Brodeur went down, Scottie played beautifully in his absence, posting a 25-13-1 record. The book on Clemmensen however is thin. Prior to last season, Clemmensen spent most of his 6 year professional career with the AHL’s Albany River Rats on losing teams. He had only seen action in 28 career NHL games. However, he did stand on his head many times and pretty much single handedly led NJ to the post-season. Could he be simply a one year wonder or is Clemmensen, at age 31, a serious potential long term solution in Denver?