Currently, the Colorado Avalanche are a very subpar hockey team in the NHL - in fact, they are the worst team in the entire league. The 'Aves' have earned a meager 35 points so far this season and it's not hard to tell that they need to make some serious changes. With the trade deadline just around the corner, I'd expect a complete yard sale and I would strongly recommend not buying any jerseys of their star players.
Before they became terrible, the Avalanche were actually a powerhouse in the NHL and started making a name for themselves as soon as they moved to Colorado (formerly Quebec Nordiques). The Avalanche were formed in the 1995/6 season and in that season, they went on to finish first in the Pacific Division, second in the Western Conference, and eventually raised the Stanley Cup - talk about coming out of the gate hot. They would win their second cup just five seasons later in the 2000-01 season.
Before the salary cap was implemented, the 'Aves' took full advantage and showcased an incredibly star-studded roster season after season. With names like Sakic, Forsberg, Roy, Kariya, Selanne and Hejduk wearing the snow-draped 'A', it's easy to understand why they were so good. However, following the introduction of the salary cap, the Colorado Avalanche really started to go downhill - kind of like an Avalanche.
In this list, we will be looking at 10 of the best and 10 of the worst 'Aves' since the 2001 Stanley Cup.
With all that out of the way, let's get into it!
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20 Best: Peter Forsberg
Peter 'Foppa' Forsberg is an NHL legend that tore it up during his time as a Colorado Avalanche. Forsberg was an insanely gifted hockey player whose offensive abilities were truly remarkable. On top of his offensive gifts, he was also tough and often times threw his weight around which maybe held him back slightly - injuries slowed up the superstar and undoubtedly reduced his already impressive statistics. In his NHL career, he scored 249 goals and 885 points in 708 games all while sporting an impressive +238 rating.
His best seasons were definitely as an Avalanche as he won two Stanley Cups with them and tallied some very impressive numbers - in 544 games as an 'Ave', he scored 213 goals and 705 points. His greatest season was the 2002/03 season that saw him recording 106 points and taking home both the Art Ross Trophy as well as the Hart Memorial Trophy.
19 Worst: Matt Hunwick
Matt Hunwick's time in Colorado was not what the Avalanche's brass were hoping for when they traded for him. Described as a very strong skating offensive defenceman, Hunwick's play was nothing of the sort. His offensive production was very lackluster and on top of that, his defensive play was even worse - he regularly finished in the minus column despite the 'Aves' being one of, if not the, highest scoring teams in the league (during his stint).
In his 128 games as an Avalanche, Hunwick marked down a meager three goals and 22 points while dragging along a -18 rating. His play before and after his time Colorado was drastically better - his offensive production four times better and he was actually a positive rating. For whatever reason, Matt Hunwick just couldn't get it done with the Avalanche.
18 Best: Matt Duchene
26-year-old Matt Duchene has been a staple in the Avalanche offence since he joined the team for the 2009-10 season. Duchene is an insanely fast skater with good vision and soft hands who is constantly making things happen when he's on the ice. Rightfully so, Duchene was selected by the 'Aves' third overall in the 2009 Entry Draft.
Duchene has played his entire professional career in Colorado and in 548 games he has contributed 172 goals and 413 points. He is consistently among the leading scorers on his team and one of their greatest assets. With the Avalanche being as bad as they are right now, I'd expect Duchene to be traded at the deadline and hopefully be moved to a cup contending team - Montreal is rumored to be interested.
17 Worst: Kyle Cumiskey
Out of Abbotsford, British Columbia is Kyle Cumiskey - another disappointing Avalanche defender. During his time in junior, Cumiskey was described as a very poised and gifted offensive defenceman. Unfortunately, his time as a pro has not lived up to his hype - in 139 professional games he has only recorded 35 points and is a -9. Cumiskey was selected 222nd overall by the 'Aves' in the 2005 Entry Draft - a draft I covered in a previous article of mine.
Cumiskey played 132 games as an Avalanche over five seasons and contributed all of his 35 points while sitting on a -8 rating. With a lack of size, offensive production and defensive game, the 5'11" and 180 lbs defender really just wasn't what the Avalanche were looking for. Cumiskey went on to play seven games for the Chicago Blackhawks in the cup-winning 2014-15 season.
16 Best: Rob Blake
The 6'4" and 220 lbs James Norris Memorial Trophy winner, Rob Blake is arguably the best defender to ever wear an Avalanche jersey. Blake was an incredible two-way defenceman whose defensive game was equally matched by his offensive production. Over 1270 games, Blake chalked up an impressive 240 goals and 777 points - 136 goals and 379 points were recorded on the powerplay.
Blake was a major asset during his time in Colorado, playing in all situations including powerplay, penalty kill, and pivotal shutdown minutes. Over five seasons with the 'Aves', the big blue-liner marked down 62 goals and 208 points in 322 games. Blake joined the Avalanche during the 2000/01 season and went on to raise the cup with his new club - he really proved his worth in the playoffs by contributing 19 points in 23 games.
15 Worst: Patrick Bordeleau
Despite being a huge 6'6" and 225 lbs left winger, Patrick Bordeleau was largely ineffective during his three-season stint with the Avalanche. The Montreal, Quebec product played his entire professional career in Colorado and plain and simply just wasn't NHL capable. Bordeleau's lack of speed and positional awareness made him a defensive liability and constantly left him in the minus column - at all levels including junior (QMJHL).
With the 'Aves', the big Bordeleau only managed to hit the scoresheet with eight goals and 16 points over 129 games. He played pretty low minutes and still managed to create a -8 rating - a statistic that really illustrates his poor performance in his team's half of the ice. Bordeleau is currently playing in the EIHL for the Cardiff Devils where he is sitting on seven points in 38 games.
14 Best: Paul Stastny
Out of Quebec City, Quebec is Paul Stastny - one of the best to ever play for Colorado. Son of NHL legend, Peter Stastny, Paul had a lot to live up to when he joined the big leagues. Showing shades of his old man, Paul displayed his great hockey vision and patience with the puck that most players do not have. The puck really seems to follow him around the ice - a gift only very few players possess in the NHL. Although his career isn't as great as his fathers (so far), Paul has still managed 588 points in 731 games and been a great leader on both of his professional teams (Colorado and St. Louis).
During his eight-season ride with the Avalanche, Stastny contributed 160 goals and 458 points over 538 games. Keep in mind the 'Aves' were primarily not very good while Stastny was there and he was one of the few reasons the team stayed afloat - he was constantly among the team's leading scorers and was always a leader. Stastny has always been a very consistent hockey player who knows his role and is nothing but an asset to any team he plays for.
13 Worst: Jay McClement
Kingston, Ontario native, Jay McClement played in two seasons as a member of the Avalanche and made quite a poor impression. In his junior days (OHL), McClement was described as a very complete hockey player that always took care of his own defensive end first. However, his days in the NHL told a different story - his offensive production is anything but impressive and he's chained to a dismal -115 career rating.
The 33-year-old is currently in his 12th NHL season playing for his fourth team, the Carolina Hurricanes. Before the 'Canes' were the Leafs and before them, it was the 'Aves'. McClement played in 104 games for Colorado where he contributed a shabby 11 goals and 21 points while sitting on a -8 rating. For whatever reason, McClement just hasn't been able to find his complete game in the NHL that he displayed in his junior days.
12 Best: Gabriel Landeskog
Up next is the current Avalanche captain, Gabriel Landeskog. The second overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft has certainly lived up to his hype is definitely the backbone of the current 'Aves' roster. The 2011-12 Calder Memorial Trophy winner is an elite NHL centreman and being only 24-years-old, he is only going to get better. Displaying maturity of a 15-season veteran and being consistently among the team's leading scorers, Landeskog has proven to be the Avalanche's best player over the past three to four seasons.
'Landy' has played his entire six-season NHL career in Colorado and has recorded 111 goals and 269 points over 404 games so far. With his team currently in dead last, I'd expect him to get some much-needed help added to the roster at the trade deadline and also in the off-season. The Avalanche have tons of potential and with some major moves the team could get back into playoff contention, and Landeskog is the perfect captain to lead the up-and-coming squad.
11 Worst: Cody McLeod
Next on the list is the Binscarth, Manitoba product, Cody McLeod. Standing at 6'2" and 210 lbs, McLeod was a tough customer and definitely knew his role - bang bodies and drop the gloves. To his credit, he was very good at being a physical presence. Unfortunately, he was also good at being a liability in the defensive end. So far in his career, McLeod has recorded 1389 PIMS and is dragging along a -33 rating.
McLeod played 659 of his career 672 games as an Avalanche and was a -34 during the stint. With the Avalanche slumping as bad as they were, McLeod really wasn't the type of player the organization needed. Despite playing limited fourth line minutes, he still managed to be a huge defensive hindrance. McLeod first joined up with the 'Aves' in the 2007/8 season and the league was definitely changing - pushing players with McLeod's role into the shadows. Simply put, McLeod really only held the team back - statistically speaking.
10 Best: Milan Hejduk
One of the most offensively gifted players to ever play in Colorado, Milan Hejduk, is next on the list. Hejduk was an incredible hockey player who put up 375 goals and 805 points over 1020 games while sitting on an impressive +101 career rating. Hejduk played his entire professional career as a Colorado Avalanche.
While playing for the 'Aves', the talented Hejduk raised the Stanley Cup in the 2000-01 season - a season that saw him scoring 40 goals and 79 points in 80 games. Two seasons later during the 2002-03 season, Hejduk had a career best year and put up 50 goals and 98 points in 82 games - these statistics earned him the Maurice Richard Trophy. On top of his offensive prowess, Hejduk was also a great leader and even wore the 'C' for a time in Colorado before his retirement in 2013.
9 Worst: Darcy Tucker
Darcy Tucker, from Castor, Alberta is up next on the list. Tucker was a good NHL player that played with a lot of tenacity and was known for playing with a chip on his shoulder. For a goof majority of his career, Tucker lived up to his reputation by accumulating 215 goals, 476 points, and 1410 PIMS over 947 games - pretty good numbers for a third line chip and chase player.
Tucker played his final two seasons of his long 14 season career with the Colorado Avalanche. He was picked up to add some much-needed aggression and tenacity to a largely dull roster. Unfortunately, Tucker just couldn't do that - he tallied only 114 PIMS in in 134 games which illustrated his lack of physicality and presence. He recorded 40 points during his time as an 'Ave' but was also a -16 rating - he really only contributed to the team's slump, instead of pulling them out.
8 Best: Nathan MacKinnon
Nathan MacKinnon is up next on the list and is the Avalanche's future in terms of offence. Selected first overall in 2013, MacKinnon is a very dangerous offensive threat with insane acceleration, soft hands, and a laser of a shot. Standing at 6'0" and 205 lbs, the 21-year-old is thick and very strong on his skates so he's not afraid to throw his weight around and get into the dirty areas - he can kill your team in all areas of the ice.
The 2013-14 Calder Memorial Trophy winner made quite an impression when he broke onto the scene as an 18-year-old. His explosive play earned him 24 goals and 63 points in 82 games during his rookie season while he nurtured a +20 rating. Collectively, over four seasons, the youngster has notched 71 goals and 192 points in 276 games - let's keep in mind how terrible the 'Aves' have been during his career so far. With an expected revamp coming to the Avalanche, I'd expect to see MacKinnon's level of play to rise dramatically alongside his offensive numbers.
7 Worst: T.J. Hensick
Next on the worst side of things is the 88th selection in the 2005 draft, T.J. Hensick. Described as pure goal-scorer attributed with blazing speed, confidence, and creativity, Hensick was projected as a 20 to 30 goals-per-year centreman. Once he made his way to the big leagues, Hensick just couldn't compete - largely due to his lack of size (5'10" and 190 lbs) and lack of physicality. He has played only 112 games over four broken seasons in the NHL and currently plays for the Ontario Reign in the AHL.
Hensick played 99 games for the Avalanche from 2007 - 2010 before he was shipped off to the St. Louis Blues' organization. During his 99 game tenure, Hensick managed to contribute 11 goals and 35 points while sporting an unfortunate -11 rating. During the dark times in Colorado, Hensick could not be the crack of light the team so desperately needed.
6 Best: Alex Tanguay
Next on the list is the Colorado Avalanche's first round selection (12th overall) of the 1998 entry draft, Alex Tanguay. An offensive weapon, Tanguay is a predominant skater whose hockey sense gives him the edge in most one-on-one situations. The speedy winger has averaged an impressive 54 points per season over his 16 NHL season career. Tanguay has played for six NHL teams and put up impressive and consistent numbers for all of them - most notably for the Colorado Avalanche.
Tanguay played in nine seasons for the Avalanche - from 1999 - 2006, and then again from 2013-2016. Over 598 games as an 'Ave', Tanguay contributed 167 goals and 488 points while riding a +130 rating. His career best season was as in Colorado during the 2003/4 season when he chalked up 25 goals and 79 points in 69 games with a +30 rating. Tanguay has been nothing but consistent during his long career and was without a doubt one of the best to be called an Avalanche.
5 Worst: Serge Aubin
Out of Val D'or, Quebec is Serge Aubin - the 161st selection in the 1994 NHL entry draft. Aubin played seven seasons in the NHL for three different teams (Columbus, Colorado, Atlanta) and was largely ineffective for a good majority of his career. In 374 professional games, the French-Canadian notched 44 goals and 108 points while manufacturing a dismal -45 rating. Aubin's worst days were hands down as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
During his broken three-season ride with the Avalanche, Aubin managed a meager six goals and an unlucky 13 points over 82 games while sporting a -1 rating. His play was hugely lackluster and not up to par with the speed of the NHL. He was outmatched by just about every centreman he opposed and stuck out in a bad way. He was one of few dull spots in an, at the time, star-studded Avalanche roster.
4 Best: Adam Foote
Out of Toronto, Ontario is the Quebec Nordiques second round selection (22nd overall), Adam Foote. A big shutdown D-man, Foote was an integral member of the Avalanche's blueline during their dominant years. He was very hard to beat one-on-one, in front of the net, and especially in the corners - he was a very strong 6'2" and 220 lb beast. Foote had a very long and prosperous, 19 NHL season career that saw him raising two Stanley Cups - both with the Colorado Avalanche.
Foote played four seasons as a Nordique before they became the Colorado Avalanche where he played 12.5 seasons of his long career. Exclusively as an Avalanche, Foote marked down 221 points in 760 games - not bad for a shutdown player such as himself. To illustrate his defensive consistencies, he was a +107 during his long tenure with the Avalanche.
3 Worst: Ben Guite
Next on the list is a Montreal, Quebec product, Ben Guite. Selected 172nd in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Guite was projected as an adequate third or fourth line center. Guite was described as a very defensive-minded forward that could shut down opposing team's threats. With decent size, standing at 6'1" and 210 lbs, Guite played a decently physical game in his own end. However, once he reached the pros, his numbers fell off and so did his level of play.
Guite played one game for the Boston Bruins in the 2005/6 season before being shipped to Colorado where he would end up staying for three seasons. As an 'Ave', Guite contributed 19 goals and 45 points in 168 games while sporting a -1 rating. Guite was decent on the penalty kill but when it came to five-on-five play but was plain and simply a step behind the play in most situations.
2 Best: Joe Sakic
Next up is one of the greatest players to ever play the game and long-time Avalanche captain, Joe Sakic. Equipped with great speed, legendary on-ice vision, and one of the best wrist shots of all time, Sakic was an absolute weapon in the offensive end. The Burnaby, British Columbia native played a long and fruitful 20 season career that saw him recording an impressive 625 goals and 1,641 points over 1,378 games. Selected 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1987, Sakic played his entire career with the Nordiques and then Avalanche.
Exclusively with the Avalanche, 'Burnaby Joe' notched 365 goals and 1,015 points in just 870 games - this included two over 50 goal seasons and three over 100 point seasons! On top of his offensive numbers, Sakic also took home quite a bit of hardware as an Avalanche including the Stanley Cup (2), the Conn Smythe Trophy, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award, and lastly the NHL Foundation Player Award. Joe Sakic is easily the greatest Colorado Avalanche player of all time.
1 Worst: Nate Guenin
Last on the list is Nate Guenin, the 127th overall pick of the 2002 NHL entry draft. Standing at 6'3" and 207 lbs, Guenin was a big defensive D-man with a long reach and decent skating ability. He was known for playing very physically with an edge while also making good outlet passes to streaking forwards. Unfortunately, Guenin's offensive capabilities were severely lacking and that is definitely a major cause for his lack of professional success.
Guenin arrived in Colorado for the 2013/14 season and has played in a total of three seasons for the 'Aves'. In 173 games with the Avalanche, Guenin tallied an unattractive three goals 26 points. His lack of offensive ability alongside his borderline below average defensive game made Guenin a very disposable member of an already struggling squad. He is currently playing for the San Diego Gulls of the AHL where he has seven points in 36 games so far.
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