Avs acquire Theodore in goalie trade with Habs

Updated: March 9, 2006, 9:30 AM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Colorado and Montreal swapped goalies Wednesday with Jose Theodore heading to the Avalanche in exchange for David Aebischer.

Montreal Canadiens

38 17.0 15.0 0.0 .881 3.46

The trade marks the second time a high-profile goaltender left Montreal for Denver, following Patrick Roy's historic move to the mile-high city during the 1995-96 season.

Theodore, 29, has a 3.46 goals-against average and an .881 save percentage this season. Aebischer, 28, has a 2.98 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.

Theodore was 17-15-5 for Montreal this season after winning a career-best 33 games in 2003-04.

Aebischer, who had a miserable month of December before turning his season around in January, is 25-14-2 this season.

Theodore fractured his right heel last month while putting salt on the ice outside his Montreal home during the league's Olympic break. He plans to return to hockey in April and the Avs said they expect him to be 100 percent for the playoffs.

Until then, the Avs will presumably rely on Peter Budaj and Vitaly Kolesnik to tend the net.

"We are convinced that we are securing our goaltending position for many years," Avs president and general manager Pierre Lacroix said in a statement. "He is a proven, All-Star caliber netminder and at 29 he is entering the prime years of his career. Every year we are trying to reach the ultimate goal and this represents another sign to our fans that hasn't changed."

This was the first major swap as the NHL's Thursday trade deadline approached. With 23 of the league's 30 teams within seven points of a playoff spot and a month's worth of games still to be played, not too many clubs were eager to make any major changes.

The new collective bargaining agreement moved up the trade deadline by two weeks.

Theodore was on Canada's preliminary Olympic eligibility list but was not placed on the final squad after a December drug test in which he tested positive for a drug that can be used to mask steroid use. Canadiens team doctor David Mulder said the prescription drug, Propecia, was being used to promote hair growth.

Theodore became the sixth goaltender in NHL history to win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player in 2001-02, when he led the league with a .931 save percentage.

The Laval, Quebec, native was Montreal's second selection in the 1994 entry draft and has played his whole career with the Canadiens, compiling a 141-158-30 record with 23 shutouts, a 2.62 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

A seventh-round draft pick by Colorado in 1997, Aebischer is 89-58-14 in his career.

After a winless December, he helped turned around Colorado's season by going 9-2-1 in January, topping the record of eight January wins set in 2001 by Roy, whose retired number hangs above the Pepsi Center ice and whose legacy cast a long shadow Aebischer never could evade.

In 2003-04, Aebischer replaced Roy, who retired after the 2002-03 season after leading Colorado to the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001.

Aebischer went 32-19-9 with a 2.09 goals-against average, second only in club history to Roy's 1.94 mark in 2001-02. He struggled this season to match that production, especially early on, when he drew an early hook after some poor starts and even spent several games in street clothes in December.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press