The Colorado Avalanche have signed goaltender Justus Annunen to a three-year, entry-level contract. The deal will take Annunen through 2022-23. Hockey is still suspended across most of the world but teams are still free to sign players. Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic broke the news late Thursday afternoon.
The #Avs have signed goaltender and 2018 third-round pick Justus Annunen to a three-year entry-level contract.
— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) April 30, 2020
Avalanche Sign Justus Annunen
The 20-year-old Annunen has been playing in Finland to this point in his career. Despite his young age, the young goaltender had an incredible season in 2019-20 before operations were suspended. He posted a .929 save percentage and 1.76 goals-against-average for Karpat in Finland’s Liiga. He also had a strong run with the country’s U20 international team at the World Junior Hockey Championships. There he put up a .921 save percentage and 2.57 goals-against.
The Avalanche originally selected Annunen in the third round of the 2018 Draft. He has the size to be an NHL goaltender at 6’3″, 201-pounds. Preseason scouting reports were down on his abilities but he bounced back this year. Annunen is aggressive in taking away opposing shot angles but he was able to stay in position as well. Some of his results are due to the strength of his surrounding team in Finland but there are plenty of tools to make him a top goaltender prospect.
What This Means for the Future
Annunen will likely join Colorado’s AHL affiliate when he reaches North America. He will play there for at least one season so he can acclimate to the style of hockey on this continent. The AHL will also let him learn from fellow prospect Adam Werner, who debuted in 2019-20 and can give some insights in the game over here. Annunen will challenge for an NHL spot after a year or two of seasoning.
Colorado’s signings are just beginning. The team still has big decisions to make on several players including Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin. They have a strong foundation with plenty of cap space but some careful thought will go into this offseason. The team’s competitive window is wide open. They need to balance retaining the talent on-hand without crippling their ability for more moves in the future.