The NHL’s season-opening roster deadline was set for Monday afternoon, but the Colorado Avalanche could be one of the teams that proves it is a bit of a misnomer.
The Avs set their roster before the deadline with one final surprise when they claimed goaltender Ivan Prosvetov on waivers from Arizona and sent Justus Annunen to the Colorado Eagles. Colorado’s active roster currently includes just 21 players, two short of the maximum allowed.
There is still time for the roster to change before the Avs play Wednesday night in Los Angeles to open the 2023-24 regular season against the Kings. The biggest question over the next two days will be the status of goaltender Pavel Francouz — not his availability, but which type of injured reserve list he lands on.
The NHL’s salary cap ceiling is set at $83.5 million, but teams are allowed to go over the limit if they place a player or players on long-term injured reserve. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is expected to spend the entire season on LTIR, so the Avs have an extra $7 million in cap space. That is just enough to fit the 21 players on the active roster.
If Francouz joins Landeskog on LTIR, the Avs would have an extra $2 million in space until the goaltender is ready to return. That could allow Colorado to recall an extra player or two from the Eagles later this week, possibly even in time for Wednesday night.
If Francouz does land on LTIR, he must miss a minimum of 10 games to start the season. He has not participated in training camp, and the club hasn’t offered a timeline for when he might be healthy.
Avs coach Jared Bednar has said on multiple occasions during camp that he was happy with Annunen’s play and felt comfortable with the 23-year-old as his No. 2 goaltender behind starter Alexandar Georgiev. But there was always the possibility that a goalie placed on waivers before the deadline would pique the club’s interest.
Prosvetov, 24, was a fourth-round pick by the Coyotes in 2018. He has a little more NHL experience than Annunen’s four appearances, but not by a lot. Prosvetov has 13 games and 11 NHL starts on his resume spread across the past three seasons.
Annunen’s AHL numbers are slightly better, but scouting goalies at lower levels isn’t always strictly about the statistics. He did not need to clear waivers to return to the Eagles, so this does in effect give the Avalanche a free look at Prosvetov.
Colorado’s roster currently has 13 forwards, six defensemen and the two goalies. Kurtis MacDermid looks like the extra forward if everyone is healthy, though it’s still unclear whether forward Andrew Cogliano will be in the lineup against the Kings after his recovery from two neck fractures sustained during the Seattle playoff series in April.