Analyzing the Colorado Avalanche Best Roster

Colorado Avalanche Best Rosters

The 2022 Stanley Cup champions Colorado Avalanche are now a month away from training camp. This rendition may be one of the greatest Colorado Avalanche Best Rosters, however their previous two Stanley Cup teams also boasted great rosters. Which roster is the best in franchise history? That’s the answer we’ll be looking for today.

Analyzing the Colorado Avalanche Best Rosters

Captain Joe Sakic hoisted the Cup back in 1996. The second Stanley Cup championship coming in 2001 featured the legendary handoff between Joe Sakic and Ray Bourque.

The 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche finished the regular season with a record of 47-25-10. The 96’ Avalanche would go 16-6 during the playoffs capturing the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Formerly named the Quebec Nordiques the franchise was relocated to Denver that season becoming the Colorado Avalanche. While the Nordiques had building blocks in place for the team to thrive once in Colorado, three trades that season pushed this team over the edge.

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Three Major Transactions

In the first trade on October 3, 1995 Colorado acquired right winger Claude Lemieux. Lemieux came from the New Jersey Devils with two Stanley Cups on his resume. Wendel Clark was sent to the New York Islanders in the three team trade.

The second meaningful acquisition came on October 26, 1995 when the Avalanche traded forward Owen Nolan to the San Jose Sharks for defensemen Sandis Ozolinsh.

The third, and most impactful transaction, came on December 6, 1995 Colorado acquired future Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy, along with forward Mike Keane, from the Montreal Canadiens.

The 1996 Roster

The forwards were led by two future Hall of Fame centers Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. Sakic, at 26 years old, posted a career-high 120 points. The 22-year-old Forsberg also posted career-high point total reaching 116 points. In addition to the two young superstars, the 96’ Avalanche had great depth scoring. Lemieux scored 39 goals while left winger Valeri Kamensky added 38. Adam Deadmarsh and Scott Young chipped in 21 goals each. Chris Simon led the way physically posting 250 Penalty Minutes. They also had the defensive players Mike Keane and Stephane Yelle.

The 96’ defense corps were led offensively by Ozlinsh who scored 50 points in 66 games. A 24 year old Adam Foote was entering his prime. Alexei Gusarov, Curtis Leschysyn, rounded out the back end.

Now, Patrick Roy’s name speaks for himself. After joining the team, he started  39 regular season games with the Avalanche going 22-15-1.

1996 Regular season stats

Posting a season record of 47-25-10 Colorado finished in 1st in the Pacific Division with 104 points. The 96’ Avs goal differential was a +86. They scored 326 Goals For, well above league average of 258, and had 240 goals against.

The 96’ Playoffs

On route to capturing the franchise first Stanley Cup Championship the Avalanche put together a 16-6 record. The path to Stanley Cup Finals started with a 4-2 series win over each the Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks, and Detroit Red Wings.

In Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, Claude Lemieux deliver a hit from behind on Red Wings player Kris Draper. This hit would mark the beginning of a fierce rivalry between the two teams. Colorado won the game moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Florida Panthers winning the series 4-0.

Sakic had a phenomenal playoffs in 96’. The Captain of the Avalanche scored 34 points in 22 playoff games. Kamensky and Forsberg added 22 and 21 points respectively.

The 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche

This Avalanche roster was a legendary team, featuring 5 future hall of famers. The 01’ Avalanche put up a record of 56-18-10-4 for 118 points and a 1st place finish in the Northwest Division. This roster put up nine more wins and 14 more points than the 1996 Avalanche. Ray Bourque, chasing his dream of winning a Stanley Cup, had been traded to Colorado from Boston Bruins the season prior. Rob Blake, former Los Angeles King, was acquired in February 2001.

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The 01’ Roster

The 2001 Avalanche still had captain Joe Sakic. Peter Forsberg was still in Colorado as well, however, the supporting cast had changed since the 1996 Championship. Sakic and Forsberg paced the Avalanche with 118 and 89 points, respectively.
There was plenty of supplementary scoring provided from the likes of Milan Hejduk, Chris Drury, and Alex Tanguay. The Czech sniper Hejduk scored 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points on the campaign. Tanguay put up an impressive 77 points and Drury posted 65.
The 01’ defence was very strong to say the least. Ray Bourque paced the defenders with 59 points. Rob Blake, Adam Foote, Martin Skoula, Jon Klemm  rounded out the defence.

The Regular Season

As pstated the 2001 squad finished with 118 points, 14 better than in 1996. They finished in first place in the Northwes Division. Undergoing a coaching change since 96’ we seen Marc Crawford out head coach and Bob Hartley was in. The team seen a drop in overall offense as they scored 270 goals for. It should be noted the league average also dropped from 258 in 96’ to 226 in 01’. Colorado gave up 192 goals against giving them a difference of +78. This gives them a -8 goal differential difference from the 96’ Avalanche. The power play connected at 22.04% slightly ahead of the 1996 success rate. The penalty kill was 82.75% successful, which falls below the 1996 season.

The 2001 Playoffs

Colorado would go 16-7 on course to winning the Stanley Cup. They would beat the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, winning the series 4-1. In the 2nd round a surprising LA Kings pushed the loaded up Av’s to a 7 game series. The Western Conference finals were played against the St Louis Blues. The Avalanche made quick work of St Louis, beating them in 5 games to advance to the Finals.
Colorado would meet the New Jersey Devils in the finals making for the ultimate goaltending duel between Roy and Martin Brodeur. The Devils pushed Colorado to another 7 game series.

Patrick Roy won the Conn Smythe in 2001 with a .934 Save Percentage and a 2.22 GAA to go along with his 4 post season shut outs.

The following season Ray Bourque retired, and there was a bit of a roster overhaul. The Avalanche would again meet the rivalled Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals. They lost the series in 7 games, spoiling another bid for a Colorado Avalanche Repeat.

The 2021-22 Colorado Avalanche

After 21 long years and some recent disappointing playoff exits, the Avalanche were on fire all season long. They put together an amazing run to the Cup going 16-4 on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.

Sakic’s trade deadline acquisitions were critical to capturing the Stanley Cup. The Colorado GM acquired defenceman Josh Manson  to go with forwards Artturi Lekonen and Andrew Cogliano.

Lekonen scored the series-clinching goal in the Western Conference Finals, against the Edmonton Oilers. In game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Lekonen scored the game winning goal to knock off defending champion Tampa Bay.

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The 2021-22 Roster

Offensively the 2021-22 Avalanche were led by Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, Nazem Kadri and Gabriel Landeskog. Rantanen led Colorado in points last season with 92. Mackinnon posted 88 points in just 66 regular season games. Defenceman Cale Makar had a career-high 86 point season. Kadri also reached a career-high  87 points. Depth forwards Andre Burakovsky chipped in 61 points and Valeri Nichushkin added 52 points.

From a Defensive standpoint, behind Makar the defensive corps was made up of Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, Erik Johnson, Bowen Byram and Josh Manson.

Regular Season and Playoff Run

With 119 points the Avalanche finished 1st place in the Western Conference. Colorado had a record of 56-19-7. The team scored 312 Goals For and gave up 234 Goal Against. The 2022 and 2001 Avalanche both tied with a goal differential of +78.

The 2022 Avalanche had an amazing playoff run losing only 4 games on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. The 16-4 record was the best amongst all Avalanche champion teams. They swept the Nashville Predators in the first round, beat St Louis Blues in 6 games and swept the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals.

The Best Roster of Them All

After looking at each championship team in depth, the best Avalanche roster ever goes to the 2022 Avalanche. The fact that building today’s roster within the limitations of the salary cap is the key factor. Both the 2001 and 2022 squads have very similar statistics. While the 2001 group had five Hall of Fame players on the team, only time can tell how many from the today Avalanche roster will join them in the future. Mackinnon, Landeskog, Makar and possibly even Rantanen end up hall of famers in their due time.

All stats from this article come courtesy of Hockey Reference

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