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Francouz chose the Avs over Nashville

Francouz chose the Avs over NashvilleThe Czech goalie will have his first shot at making it to the NHL.

Once again, the Colorado Avalanche chose to bet on a goalie from the Czech Republic. After Roman Will (signed as a free agent, who’s no longer part of the Avs organization) and Petr Kvaca (drafted by the Avs and still part of the organization), Colorado signed 27-year-old goalie Pavel Francouz to a one-year, one-way contract on Wednesday. “Since I was little, I’ve been putting up posters of NHL goalies all over my room. This is a big deal for me, yet signing a contract is just the beginning,” said the Pilsen native in an official statement of the Sport Invest sports agency. 

It’s worth noting that Francouz had other options, but the Avalanche became his clear choice. First and foremost, he had two offers to stay in the KHL, where he spent the past three seasons. Traktor Chelyabinsk, his now former employer, offered him a contract extension, while the famed two-time KHL champs SKA Petersburg made him a lucrative offer as well. “Money’s important, but it isn’t everything,” reasoned Francouz. Ultimately, the NHL won over all big-money contract offers. The best hockey league in the world has always been Francouz’s dream. 

Francouz declined a contract extension from Chelyabinsk and a lucrative offer from SKA Petersburg to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL

The Czech goalie even had offers from other NHL teams, with the Nashville Predators, this year’s President’s Trophy winners, who ended the Avs’ season, also expressing their interest in signing him. “We evaluated the goalie situation in the teams, told each other how it was. Both offers were good, but Colorado just seemed like the better fit. Pavel exactly knows what he’s getting into and he knows what’s coming,” said Francouz’s agent Robert Spalenka in an official statement, while also adding that the two of them had a conference call with Avalanche representatives, with Joe Sakic also being part of said call. 

Francouz signed a one-year, $690,000 contract. Being a one-way deal, the contract guarantees that he’ll make the same money in the AHL should he be sent there by the Avs. Thus, the term one-way doesn’t necessarily mean that Colorado won’t re-sign Jonathan Bernier and that Pavel will serve as Semyon Varlamov’s backup. Pavel himself knows that he’s in for a fight. “Thanks to my experience in Russia, where I went through almost everything, I’m ready for anything, every possible situation and scenario. Mentally, I’ll try to be as strong as possible. I’ll work hard in practices and will do everything to make it to the NHL. One also needs to have a certain amount of luck to get there, things just have to go right. The journey to the NHL will be difficult and challenging, but I’m still dreaming of a happy end. Signing a contract is just the beginning and I’ll do my very best to get a taste of NHL action,” explained Francouz, who made his research prior to signing his contract with the Avs and knows that the Colorado Eagles, the team’s new AHL affiliate as of next season, have their arena and facilities just an hour’s drive away from the Pepsi Center. 

Pavel is currently preparing for his fifth World Championship. He was also the Czech Republic’s starter at this year’s Winter Olympics, where he and his countrymen finished fourth. He’s been a staple on the Czech national team, playing at various international tournaments. He was named the Czech Extraliga’s, the country’s top-tier league, best goalie for the 2012-13 season. Two years later, he won the league championship with HC Litvinov. Since 2012, his saves percentage in senior club hockey hasn’t been lower than .92%. During the past three seasons, he was once named the KHL’s goalie of the month, twice the league’s goalie of the week and appeared in one KHL All-Star Game. He also had the highest saves percentage in the KHL two season in row and was named among the Czech Republic’s three best players at last year’s World Championship.  During the 2014-15 league championship-winning season, he was hands down the best goalie in the country – sporting the highest saves percentage in both the regular season and the playoffs, having the most shutouts, wins, the lowest goals against average en route to being named playoff MVP and the season’s best goalie.

 Francouz was a vital part of HC Litvinov's 2014-15 championship run, earning playoff MVP and goalie of the year honors in what was his final season in the Czech Republic before moving to the KHL

Pavel goes by the nickname “Francík”. Should he suit up for the Avs, he’ll have to change his favorite #33. 

You can follow Pavel on Twitter at https://twitter.com/francik_3. 

Eurolanche will bring you an interview with Pavel following the upcoming World Championship.

Original story by David Puchovsky


Michal Hezely, Slovakia, hezely@eurolanche.com
03/05/2018 - 17:00

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NHL on Nov 11, 2017: "Eurolanche is the world's largest Colorado Avalanche fan club."