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Colorado Avalanche: Ranking the Top 10 Skaters of All Time

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJanuary 7, 2012

Colorado Avalanche: Ranking the Top 10 Skaters of All Time

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    Since moving to Colorado in 1995, the Avalanche have accomplished what no one would've expected out of them, winning two Stanley Cups in just 7 seasons. Over the last few seasons, the Avalanche have fallen to the bottom of the pile and have basically been forgotten.

    This season they are combining their young talent with a few veterans to make a push for the playoffs and turn the heads of analysts and fans everywhere.

    Colorado has had some of the greatest players in all of hockey wear the Avalanche logo on their chest in the past and currently. Arguably the greatest player to play for the Avalanche, goalie Patrick Roy, will not be featured in this list as I rank the top 10 skaters to ever play for the Colorado Avalanche.

    The list has several future Hall of Famers and also many who will have their numbers retired atop the Pepsi Center once they retire. I hope you agree with me and if not, be sure to leave comments.

How I Ranked the Skaters

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    It’s never easy to choose the best EVER for anything in sports and this list was no different.

    The Avalanche have had tons of great players pass through Colorado during their career and to narrow it down to 10 skaters was challenging, yet interesting.

    I first took players that had played at least 200 games with Colorado and then noted their statistics, such as goals, assists and so on and so forth. I also took into consideration whether they were a part of the 1996 or 2001 Stanley Cup championship teams.

    Lastly, I just used my opinion since I’ve had the privilege of watching many of these players.

Honorable Mention

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    Martin Skoula: Skoula played in nearly 400 games during his five-year career in Colorado and was on the Stanley Cup championship team from 2001. He only scored 27 goals in his time with the Avs but did collect 86 assists.

    Brett Clark: Clark wasn’t able to win a Stanley Cup in Colorado, coming to the Avs in 2003 and playing into 2010. Brett scored 30 goals and had 100 assists during his time with Colorado.

    Chris Drury: It was tough not to put Drury in the top ten but he was extremely close. He played in 314 games throughout the 1998-02 seasons, racking up 222 goals and 85 assists. His only Stanley Cup came in 2001 when he played in 71 games and had 65 points during the regular season.

    Valeri Kamensky: Kamensky was a big goal scorer during his four seasons with the Avs and his years earlier with the Quebec Nordiques. In Colorado he scored 106 goals and had 155 assists. He won the only Stanley Cup of his career as a part of the 1996 Colorado team.

    Ray Bourque: Ray Bourque is one of the best hockey players ever to step on the ice, but a top ten Colorado Avalanche? Very close. Bourque is my favorite hockey player of all time and Joe Sakic giving him the Stanley Cup to raise in 2001 is one of the greatest moments in sports. It was Bourque's only Stanley Cup of his historic career. He is only one of six players to have their number retired by Colorado even though he only played in one full season with the team.

10. Adam Deadmarsh

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    Seasons: 1995-2001

    Games Played: 405

    Goals: 129

    Assists: 142

    Points: 271

    1996 Stanley Cup Champion

    Ranking 9th all-time in games played for the Colorado Avalanche, Adam Deadmarsh comes in at No. 10 on my list. He was a big piece of the '96 championship team to which he contributed 48 points in the regular season and the 17 throughout the playoffs.

    Adam was traded after the 2001 season to the Los Angeles Kings for another player on this list. 

9. John-Michael Liles

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    Seasons: 2003-2011

    Games Played: 523

    Goals: 68

    Assists: 207

    Points: 275

    JM was a great defenseman for Colorado over the last several years, before being traded to Toronto.

    He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in the 2004 season when he scored 10 goals and had 24 assists in his rookie campaign with the Avs. He ranks 5th on the all-time games played list for Colorado.

    Liles had set a career-high in assists last season with 40 in 76 games. 

8. Paul Stastny

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    Seasons: 2006-Present

    Games Played: 348

    Goals: 105

    Assists: 216

    Points: 321

    The current alternate captain for Colorado has had a great career.

    Now in his sixth season in the NHL, he has already accumulated well over 300 points for his career and will add to that total by the end of this season. Last season he accounted for 57 points (22 goals, 35 assists) and was named to his first All-Star Game.

    Only 26, Stastny has a very bright future ahead of him as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. 

7. Stephane Yelle

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    Seasons: 1995-2002, 2009-2010

    Games Played: 516

    Goals: 54

    Assists: 90

    Points: 144

    1996 & 2001 Stanley Cup Champion

    Although he only had 144 career points with Colorado, Yelle is a two-time Stanley Cup champ who played in the sixth-most games for the club.

    Yelle was never high in the points leaderboard but was a force on defense at all times. The pairings of Yelle and Foote/Blake gave teams headaches which ultimately were parts of the the two championships. 

6. Alex Tanguay

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    Seasons: 1999-2006

    Games Played: 450

    Goals: 137

    Assists: 263

    Points: 400

    2001 Stanley Cup Champion

    This winger has been one of the best playmakers Avalanche fans have seen in a long time.

    Tanguay played six full seasons in Colorado and had at least 65 points in four of them. He ranks fifth on the Colorado all-time points list, sixth in goals and fourth in assists.

    He was only named to one All-Star Game but he did get to raise Lord Stanley's Cup, which is the best achievement in hockey.

5. Rob Blake

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    Seasons: 2000-2006

    Games Played: 322

    Goals: 62

    Assists: 146

    Points: 208

    2001 Stanley Cup Champion

    This defenseman was another great player who deserved every part of the 2001 Stanley Cup victory.

    Blake played four full seasons with the Avalanche and recorded point totals of at least 45 in each of them. Joining Colorado mid-season during 2001, he immediately made a huge impact and had 19 points during the playoffs.

    An All-Star in each season with Colorado, Blake should have his number raised to the rafters soon enough.

4. Milan Hejduk

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    Seasons: 1998-Present

    Games Played: 910

    Goals: 357

    Assists: 400

    Points: 757

    2001 Stanley Cup Champion

    Hejduk has played more games in a Colorado Avalanche uniform than any other player—910 at the end of last season.

    This season coach Joe Sacco named him the captain, a prestigious honor.

    In his 12 seasons in Colorado, he scored the most goals in the NHL and had the best plus/minus rating in 2003, has been named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and the First All-Star Team and, oh yeah, he also won a Stanley Cup in 2001.

    He is a leader and his number is guaranteed to be retired someday.

    Milan may even be lucky enough to get a call from the Hall of Fame once he retires. 

3. Adam Foote

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    Seasons: 1995-2004, 2007-2011

    Games Played: 760

    Goals: 48

    Assists: 173

    Points: 221

    1996 & 2001 Stanley Cup Champion

    Clearly the best defenseman in the short history of the Colorado Avalanche, Foote played in over 750 games, which is good for third on the all-time list.

    Although he never won a major award, he was the captain of the Avs and has two Stanley Cups on his resume.

    He was a leader on and off of the ice and deserves to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame as well as have his number retired by Colorado. 

2. Peter Forsberg

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    Seasons: 1995-2004, 2007-2008, 2010-2011

    Games Played: 544

    Goals: 202

    Assists: 503

    Points: 705

    1996 & 2001 Stanley Cup Champion

    Peter Forsberg is considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time and it could be argued that he is the best player to ever play for the Colorado Avalanche.

    But in this list, he comes in at No. 2.

    He already had his number No. 21 retired earlier this season and ranks atop of almost every category you can come up with. He WILL be a Hall of Famer—that is a guarantee—and will forever be one of the biggest fan favorites of all time.

    Efforts to come back and play through injuries late in his career only showed his love for Colorado and their fans.

1. Joe Sakic

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    Seasons: 1995-2009

    Games Played: 870

    Goals: 391

    Assists: 624

    Points: 1015

    1996 & 2001 Stanley Cup Champion

    Shocked?

    Sakic is an easy, easy choice for the best skater to ever put on the Colorado Avalanche jersey.

    The former captain already has his number retired, is a lock for the Hall of Fame, ranks second in games played, first in points, goals and assists...need I go on?

    Okay, if you insist. He was a regular season MVP, playoffs MVP, Lady Byng winner, had the best plus/minus, most road points during a season, was MVP as voted by the players, was a First Team All-Star, an eight-time All-Star and a two-time Stanley Cup Champion.

    I think that says it all. Case and point.

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