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Avalanche Signs Six Players

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche announced today that the club has agreed to terms with goaltenders David Aebischer, Peter Budaj, Tom Lawson and Vitaly Kolesnik, along with defenseman Brett Clark and forward Paul Healey.

Aebischer, 27, has spent his entire career in the Avalanche organization after being selected as Colorado's seventh choice (161st overall) in the 1997 Entry Draft. The Fribourg, Switzerland, native has compiled a 64-44-12 career record in the NHL with a 2.14 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. He was the club's regular goaltender in 2003-04, posting a 32-19-9 mark with a 2.09 goals-against average. Aebischer joined Patrick Roy as the only netminders in franchise history to reach 30 wins in a single season and his 2.09 GAA trailed only Roy's 1.94 mark in 2001-02 for the best in club history.

"David has proven that he can be a solid goaltender in this league," said Avalanche Director of Player Development Craig Billington. "He has worked very hard to get to this level."

Budaj, 22, was Colorado's first selection (63rd overall) in the 2001 Entry Draft. Budaj has spent the last three seasons with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, where he played in a combined 133 games. He appeared in 59 contests for Hershey in 2004-05, posting a 29-25-2 record with a 2.65 goals-against average.

"Peter is a very talented young goaltender," Billington said. "He has developed very well over the past three seasons in Hershey."

Kolesnik, 25, has been the top goaltender for the Kazakhstan National Team since 1999. He ranked third among all goaltenders with a .952 save percentage at the 2005 World Championships in Austria.

Lawson, who turned 26 yesterday (Aug. 15), signed with the Avalanche as a free agent on June 3, 2003. The rookie netminder spent all of 2004-05 with Hershey, where he compiled a 2.84 goals-against average in 27 games while splitting the duties with Budaj.

"Tom gives us quality depth at the goaltender position," Billington said. "We have liked what we have seen from him the past two seasons."

Clark, 28, was acquired by Colorado from Atlanta in exchange for Frederic Cassivi on Jan. 24, 2002. He spent all of 2004-05 with Hershey, tallying seven goals and 38 assists in 67 games. Clark has played in 158 career NHL games, including 12 with the Avalanche in 2003-04.

"Brett is familiar with our organization and has experience at the NHL level," Billington said. "We know we can count on him to help our defense."

Healey, 30, was an unrestricted free agent after finishing the 2003-04 season in the New York Rangers system. Originally drafted by Philadelphia 192nd overall in the 1993 Entry Draft, Healey spent all of 2004-05 in the American Hockey League, splitting the season between San Antonio (62 games) and Edmonton (17 games). He has played in 75 career contests at the NHL level, scoring six goals with 14 assists.

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