The Colorado Avalanche are a relatively young franchise that came into the NHL in the 1995-96 season after the Quebec Nordiques relocated. A young group of players along with savvy trades from former GM Pierre Lacroix turned Colorado into an NHL power house overnight, winning eight straight division titles.
Despite only a 14-year life span, Colorado has featured numerous marquee players and future hall-of-famers.
The new kid on the block. Matt Duchene hasn't had time to accomplish much in his career, aside from an impressive first year in which he led all rookies in points. But for Duchene, the future's so bright, you gotta wear shades. With the skill set and leadership abilities he possesses, chances are he'll be considered a top 10 player in team history within the next decade.
Regular Season Stats: 81 GP - 24 G - 31 A
Playoff Stats: 6 GP - 0 G - 3 A
Krupp may not have played long for the burgundy and blue, but his triple overtime goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Florida may forever live on as the most memorable moment in franchise history. What's more impressive is that Krupp only played six games during the regular season that year due to injury—registering no goals—and went on to play all 22 of Colorado's playoff games, registering an impressive 16 points.
Regular Season Stats: 144 GP - 13 G - 42 A
Playoff Stats: 29 GP - 4 G - 13 A
Even though he wasn't a part of either of Colorado's Stanley Cup victories, defenseman John-Michael Liles has been a mainstay on the Avalanche's blue line since his rookie season in 2004. Since the departure of star defenseman Rob Blake in 2006, Liles has been Colorado's primary power play contributor, averaging over 30 points a season while working his way up to eighth all time in games played for the organization.
Regular Season Stats: 447 GP - 62 G - 167 A
Playoff Stats: 36 GP - 4 G - 7 A
After the organization relocated from Quebec to Colorado, Kamensky had a career season in Denver, scoring 38 goals and 85 points. Kamensky's top line contributions helped the Avalanche capture the Pacific Division (1996-1998) and Northwest Division (1999) titles in all four of his years in the burgundy and blue, and his 10 goals in the 1996 playoffs were key as the Avalanche went on to capture the Stanley Cup.
Regular Season Stats: 289 GP - 106 G - 155 A
Playoff Stats: 56 GP - 24 G - 34 A
One of only a handful of players to be part of both Avalanche Stanley Cup victories, Klemm provided solid defensive play on Colorado's third pairing in his six seasons with the organization.
Regular Season Stats: 393 GP - 28 G - 55 A
Playoff Stats: 94 GP - 6 G - 6 A
The Goose was one of the top defenseman for Colorado in the franchises early years, including the 1996 Stanley Cup championship season. Like Klemm, Gusarov didn't score all that much, but he'd be one of the first guys you'd want on the ice during a penalty kill or at the end of the game.
Regular Season Stats: 292 GP - 16 G - 50 A
Playoff Stats: 50 GP - 0 G - 13 A
One of Colorado's four first-round picks in the 1998 draft, Tanguay proved to be the most fruitful. After a 51-point rookie season in 1999-00, Tanguay emerged as a top line forward for Colorado, and would be one until 2005-06. Tanguay's most memorable moment as a member of the Avalanche was his two goal performance in game seven of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals.
Regular Season Stats: 450 GP - 137 G - 263 A
Playoff Stats: 83 GP - 18 G - 32 A
A big power forward who was a regular contributor on the Avalanche's top line, Deadmarsh broke out in his first season in Denver with a 21 goal, 142 penalty minute season in 1996. A great goal scoring and fighting complimentary winger to Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, Deadmarsh had four 20+ goal and four 100+ penalty minute seasons in his six year Avalanche career.
Regular Season Stats: 405 GP - 129 G - 142 A
Playoff Stats: 82 GP - 22 G - 23 A
Paul Stastny hasn't been a part of greatness like many others listed below him, but his contributions to the Avalanche in his four seasons cannot be overlooked. As the Avalanche have turned over a new leaf, the transition from Sakic to Stastny as Colorado's top contributor has been a smooth one. As the best player of a team on the upswing, Stastny figures to be the future captain and face of the franchise.
Regular Season Stats: 274 GP - 83 G - 181 A
Playoff Stats: 15 GP - 3 G - 5 A
Feeling that the Avalanche's defense was lacking at the start of 1996, Pierre Lacroix made a blockbuster trade by sending former first overall pick Owen Nolan to the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh.
It would be one of the best moves Lacroix ever made.
Ozolinsh was a star from the second he joined the Avalanche, putting up elite scoring stats for defensemen, including a 23 goal season in 1996-97. Perhaps more impressive was his play in five playoff appearances with Colorado, where he frequently scored at a point per game pace.
Regular Season Stats: 333 GP - 72 G - 181 A
Playoff Stats: 82 GP - 18 G - 47 A
Despite two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe trophy with the New Jersey Devils in 1995, Claude Lemieux may best be remembered for his four seasons and change with the Colorado Avalanche. In a classic 1996 Western Conference Final against the Detroit Red Wings, Lemieux helped spark what was one of the greatest rivalries professional sports has ever known.
In addition to being one of the great all-time agitators for Colorado, Lemieux had someone of his best seasons statistically, including a 39 goal season in 1996. In the playoffs, where Lemieux generally earned his pay check, he was always among the Avalanche leaders in points, and led the team in goals with 13 in the 1996-97 playoffs.
Regular Season Stats: 297 GP - 106 G - 106 A
Playoff Stats: 62 GP - 24 G - 31 A
Coming off an NCAA season with the BU Terriers in which Drury won the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate hockey player, Drury followed it up with the Calder Trophy as NHL's top rookie in 1998-99.
An instant household name, Drury became one of Colorado's top offensive players so quickly that management parted ways with long time top six forwards like Claude Lemieux, Valeri Kamensky, and Adam Deadmarsh after Drury's first season. Other than the insane defensive play Drury provided and quality offensive totals in the regular season—often with sub-par linemates—Drury's play in the playoffs was outstanding. In only four playoff appearances with Colorado, Drury managed to score three overtime goals, and in 2001 scored 11 goals in route to Colorado's Stanley Cup.
Regular Season Stats: 314 GP - 85 G - 137 A
Playoff Stats: 80 GP - 26 G - 24 A
Yelle's play on the ice was never pretty, but it was just what the doctor ordered. Always featuring high end offensive forwards like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Milan Hejduk, Yelle was the back bone of Colorado's defensive forwards. With wingers Shjon Podein and Eric Messier, Yelle centered one of the best shutdown lines in the NHL during the early 2000's, and his importance to the team increased even more in the 2001 playoffs when the team was forced to play a more defensive style after the loss of Peter Forsberg.
His most memorable moment came in those playoffs when after hitting the post on a wide open net in overtime of Game 3 in the Western Conference Finals against the St. Louis Blues—a game the Avalanche would lose—Yelle redeemed himself in Game 4 by scoring the overtime game winner.
Regular Season Stats: 516 GP - 54 G - 90 A
Playoff Stats: 117 GP - 5 G - 17 A
A star defenseman who anchored Colorado's blue line from 2001-2006, Blake became such a key part of the organization that the after effects of his loss are still being felt four years later. His booming slap shot from the point was a key component of what was once one of the league's top power plays, and has struggled greatly since his loss.
Coming over from LA at the 2001 trade deadline, Blake was the player that pushed the Avalanche over the top en route to the Stanley Cup. Blake had a huge goal in Game 7 of the semi-finals against the Kings, and had two goals in the Stanley Cup Finals against New Jersey.
In the regular season, Blake eclipsed the 13 goal and 45 point mark in all five of his seasons with Colorado.
Regular Season Stats: 322 GP - 62 G - 146 A
Playoff Stats: 68 GP - 16 G - 27 A
From the 1999-00 to 2000-01 season in which the Avalanche had Ray Bourque, they won the President's Trophy as the NHL's best team in the regular season, snapped a string of Western Conference Finals defeats, and ultimately dethroned the New Jersey Devils as Stanley Cup Champions.
Despite being 40-years-old, Bourque was Colorado's top defenseman in both the playoffs and regular season, and despite such a short tenure became the first Avalanche player to have his number retired by the organization.
Regular Season Stats: 94 GP - 15 G - 58 A
Playoff Stats: 34 GP - 5 G - 14 A
Milan Hejduk has been the ultimate first line winger in his career, all of which spent with the Colorado Avalanche. Along with Adam Foote, Hejduk is the last member of Colorado's 2001 Stanley Cup Championship still on the team.
The offensive players around Hejduk have changed considerably in his career, but whether is be Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny, or even Tyler Arnason, Hejduk has been the mark of consistency. In each of the past 10 seasons Hejduk has scored at least 20+ goals, including a 50-goal campaign in 2003.
In addition to offensive consistency, Hejduk has been a leader on and off the ice, and will surely have his number retired when he hangs 'em up.
Regular Season Stats: 839 GP - 335 G - 366 A
Playoff Stats: 112 GP - 34 G - 42 A
In his first nine years as a member of the Avalanche, Adam Foote was not only the backbone of the Avalanche's defense, but defined the position of defensive defenseman in the NHL. Long, hard minutes in all situations describes the average night for Adam Foote. While he may have never won a Norris Trophy (mostly due to mediocre offensive stats), Foote boasts the title of best defenseman on one of the better teams in the past twenty years, and was a member of both Stanley Cup Championship teams.
After leaving due to salary cap constraints in 2005-06, Foote returned at the end of the 2007-08 season, and recently has served as team captain. Number 52 will be undoubtedly be raised to the rafters after Foote retires.
Regular Season Stats: 713 GP - 48 G - 165 A
Playoff Stats: 158 GP - 7 G - 33 A
Perhaps the most talented player in franchise history, Forsberg's career with the Avalanche was a combination of greatness and frustration. Unbelievable hands, vision, and strength combined into one player, but such an aggressive style took a huge toll on Forsberg's body, even causing him to miss the entire 2002 regular season.
But when he was healthy, not many people were better in the entire NHL. In that injury-riddled 2002 season, Forsberg returned for the playoffs and led the entire NHL in points, despite the fact that Colorado didn't make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. The following season, he won the Hart Trophy as leagues most valuable player.
Regular Season Stats: 542 GP - 202 G - 503 A
Playoff Stats: 134 GP - 56 G - 97 A
No player was directly more responsible for Colorado's success than St. Patrick. In his eight years in Denver, Colorado won two Stanley Cups, a President's Trophy, 16 playoff series, and an NHL record eight straight division titles. Since his retirement at the end of 2003, the Avalanche have failed to win the Northwest Division title, and have only won three playoff series.
Arguably the best goaltender of all time, Colorado got Roy in the middle of the 1995-96 season after Roy's infamous blow-up in Montreal. Acquiring Roy for essentially spare parts (Andrei Kovalenko, Martin Ruchinsky, Jocelyn Thibault) was one of the greatest trades in NHL history, and single handedly gave birth to what would be an NHL powerhouse Colorado Avalanche team.
Regular Season Stats: 478 GP - 262 W - 37 SO
Playoff Stats: 133 GP - 81 W - 18 SO
Mr. Everything for the Colorado Avalanche. All-time leader in games played, goals, assists, points, and playoff points, as well as being one of the best leaders in the history of the NHL.
Sakic brought Colorado it's first championship winning team in 1996, and his 18 goals earned him Conn Smythe trophy honors. In 2001, when Colorado won the President's Trophy, Sakic again led the Avs to the Cup while winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
The area where Sakic separates himself the most from any other player in NHL history is his ability to score clutch goals. In 1996, Sakic set a record for most game winning goals in one playoff year with six, and holds the record for most playoff overtime goals in NHL history with eight.
Regular Season Stats: 870 GP - 391 G - 624 A
Playoff Stats: 160 GP - 77 G - 100 A