As the mania from the Stanley Cup Finals recedes and Alexander Ovechkin continues on the world’s greatest celebratory bender, the focus of the hockey calendar starts to shift to awards season, the NHL draft and, on July 1, the start of free agency.

The Colorado Avalanche has some players who could hit the open market, and so let’s give an update on where things stand, for players such as potential unrestricted free agents Jonathan Bernier and Blake Comeau. As of Monday, my sources paint the following scenarios for the two players:

I’ve come to learn that there is interest from the Avalanche in re-signing Bernier. While neither the team nor Bernier’s agent, Pat Brisson, would comment directly, my sources tell me there have been discussions between the two on a new contract for the veteran goalie.

That’s significant, because very often in Avs history, when a player gets this close to July 1 and is a UFA, they’ve flown the coop. That the Avs are at least exploring a possible new deal with Bernier’s agent is notable.

Bernier, who turns 30 Aug. 7, earned $2.75 million last season with Colorado, posting a 19-13-3 record with a .913 saves percentage. While most teams have their No. 1 goalies for next season seemingly already set, teams such as Buffalo and the New York Islanders could be in the market for a new one.

Bernier wants to be a No. 1, but if he returned to the Avalanche, that designation would likely go to Semyon Varlamov – at least at the start of the season. Bernier likely would play 25-30 games, though, and quite possibly more, either from some hot play of the kind he had last January in winning 10 games in a row, or another injury to Varlamov. Varlamov also has just one year left on his contract. Could the Avs coax Bernier to re-sign with the prospect of being a No. 1 after next season?

Possibly, but money and term figure to be big factors whether he re-signs or not. The Avalanche has organizational depth problems in goal, with Spencer Martin not having developed into an NHL netminder yet, and unproven Pavel Francouz, signed recently from the KHL, the only current realistically viable candidate as a No. 2 behind Varlamov.

Bernier was popular in the dressing room as a steadying, veteran voice and was on his way to possibly the best season of his career before injuries struck later in the year. So, it makes sense for the Avs to attempt to re-sign him.

As for Blake Comeau: there have been no discussions toward a new deal for him. It seems likely that Comeau won’t be back. At 32 and a potential UFA, Comeau might not fit in anymore with the Avs’ plans. Sakic, in fact, said the team could “get even younger” this off-season, and Comeau is the second-oldest player on the current roster, behind Carl Soderberg.

Defenseman Patrik Nemeth can be a restricted free agent July 1, and there have been talks between the Avs and his agent – former Av Claude Lemieux. It’s highly likely Nemeth will get a new deal with the Avs.

Matt Nieto, Nail Yakupov, Duncan Siemens and Martin are the Avs’ other potential restricted free agents. Of the four, Nieto seems the likeliest to return.

What do you think, Avs fan: Should Bernier be re-signed, or no? The floor is yours.

Adrian Dater
Author

Adrian Dater has been covering the Avs since their inception. In 2015, he became the lead NHL national columnist with Bleacher Report, where he worked until 2017 before joining BSN Denver.

  • Bernier is a great backup. But like Budaj I don’t see the next level as a regular starter or especially (and perhaps most importantly) an impactful playoff backstop.

    • 100% This! Bernier may have helped the Avs “make” the playoffs but he was also a big part of why they almost missed with his terrible CA trip down the stretch. He also played a large role in the playoff loss to Nashville.

  • With Varly’s injury history, I would absolutely re-sign Bernier. He was a big reason why the Avs made the playoffs.

  • I would think Bernier would see if he could land a #1 job with #1 money on July 1st. I would not be surprised to see him back here after the first week in July if he does not get that offer. I do not know what term the Avs would want to give him, but with their cap situation I would not think the dollar amount for one or two years would be the problem.

  • I think he is a very good backup, like Grubauer, (who is probably better). But I’d be leery if I was in Buffalo and was told this was our number one goalie next year.
    Its a good job (backup for the AVS), its important, and I’m sure it will pay well.

  • I really hope Bernier will sign with the Avs. I like Varlamov but I doubt his best seasons are ahead of him.

  • The guy I’d like to see go is Colin Wilson. He’s in his late 20’s and really added nothing.

  • Of course we need Bernier. I can’t really figure out why this is even a question given the Avs situation. I also can’t figure out why Hammond isn’t a realistic viable option at #2 or #3. Andrew Hammond has a .923 career NHL save % across 56 games, with 49 of those as starts, and a winning record. Why, oh WHY, is he not a part of the Avs goalie discussion?

  • I’d like to see them resign Bernier. He was one of the main reasons we made the playoffs this past season. He’s not a liability in the locker room and he is a pretty much a 1A goalie on this team.

  • I would love to see the Avs re-sign him. I wanted them to go after him back when he left the Kings organization.

  • I think it makes sense for the Avs to “overpay” Bernie to keep him here. You have the cap space and need the insurance policy.

  • Signing him makes no sense to me unless Varly’s latest injury is a serious threat for next season. Bernie’s going to want a raise, term and to be number 1. The Avs shouldn’t offer him any of those. He was good at his best last season but even then I didn’t think he challenged Varly at any point. Avs signed Francouz and he’ll be good as a back up, maybe even more than that.

  • The best move would be to sign Philipp Grubauer and let Bernier go. Yes, Bernie had a respectable year as a backup, but I wouldn’t sign him as a #1. That said, I doubt the Avs will sign Grubauer, so the only move left is to re-sign Bernier.

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