There was a changing of the guard in the Avalanche crease Wednesday as Colorado bid farewell to starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer and made a trade with the Arizona Coyotes for Darcy Kuemper.
The Avalanche couldn’t keep every piece of a loaded and increasingly expensive lineup in place. On the busy first day of free agency, the Seattle Kraken announced they had signed Grubauer to a six-year deal worth an average of $5.9 million per year. Grubauer was a first-time Vezina Trophy finalist in 2020-21 after finishing second in the league in goals-against average and wins.
“He was one of those negotiations that we just couldn’t get to the number that he was at and we wish him the best of luck,” general manager Joe Sakic said, noting the Avalanche were close to the salary cap.
Grubauer joins forward Joonas Donskoi, who was the Kraken's expansion draft selection from Colorado.
The intention then, Sakic said, was to find someone to share time with Pavel Francouz, who had surgery and missed the entire 2020-21 season. Kuemper, 31, was a rumored trade target for several teams and the Avalanche paid a steep price, dealing defenseman Conor Timmins, a first-round pick in the 2022 draft and a conditional third-round selection in 2024.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson reported the Coyotes will retain $1 million of Kuemper’s cap hit.
Timmins, 22, missed the entire 2018-19 season due to injury but carved out a permanent roster spot with Colorado toward the end of last season. He appeared in all 10 playoff games.
The Avalanche are familiar with Kuemper, who has made his 242 career appearances with the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild and Arizona. He spent parts of four seasons in the desert.
Kuemper is a 6-foot-5, 215-pound native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He has a career 2.47 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
The Kraken also signed former Colorado College Tiger Jaden Schwartz on Wednesday. Schwartz had spent his entire career with the St. Louis Blues and won the Stanley Cup there in 2019.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He spent the past two seasons in Colorado.
Brandon Saad, one of the Avalanche’s most consistent players in the postseason, didn’t find a landing spot Wednesday.
“We would to have loved to have had Brandon. ... Unfortunately with the way the salary cap is, we weren’t able to keep him,” Sakic said.
Late Tuesday, Colorado announced Gabriel Landeskog's eight-year deal. It's worth $56 million.
“We wanted to make sure we kept our core guys together. That’s the most important thing to us,” Sakic said.