Jean Sebastien Giguere has just signed a two year extension with the Colorado Avalanche. This means that both Giguere and Semyon Varlamov are under contract through the 2013-2014 season. Is it safe to assume that Giguere’s role as a backup goaltender will remain obvious? He’s only a few years removed from being considered one of the NHL‘s elites, and is only 35. For Avalanche fans not sold on Varlamov, it’s an interesting question to try and answer: Just how many games will Giguere start in net for Colorado this season?
Last year Giguere appeared in 32 games collecting 15 wins, a 2.27 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. We haven’t seen those kinds of numbers out of a Colorado goaltender since David Aebischer in the 2003-2004 season. By comparison, Varlamov’s numbers took a back seat, especially in goals against average where Varlamov recorded a 2.59. His .913 save percentage, though respectable, also wasn’t enough to keep pace with Giguere. Though Varlamov played in more games (53), both netminders won approximately 50 percent of their games.
So does Giguere’s slightly better numbers and glowing resume give him the edge? Personally, I think the answer is yes, and here’s why. The Avalanche will play their stronger hand, and last year Giguere provided a spark and a bode of confidence that just didn’t manifest itself with Varlamov in net. I also don’t think Colorado considers itself a non-playoff team. The Avalanche have spent some significant time rebuilding their rosters since the powerhouse years of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy, and in their minds a long playoff run is way overdue.
This is where I believe Giguere’s appeal and stock begins to go up. If the Avalanche open up with a solid start, more or less splitting the games between both goaltenders, and are within a reasonable grasp of a playoff berth by the All-Star break, look for Giguere to take the reins towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.
Jean Sebastien Giguere has proven that he’s capable of stealing an entire series, and if the opportunity presents itself this year, I think Joe Sacco will let him take a shot at it.