DENVER (CBS4) – This season marks the 20th anniversary of the Colorado Avalanche moving to Denver. To commemorate that, CBS4 is taking a look back at the 20 players most responsible for the team’s successful run in the Mile High City.
The following are the players are the Top 11-20:
20. Jean-Sebastian Giguere (G, 2011-2014)
A controversial pick, Giguere makes this list for two reasons. The first being his veteran status, and the second being his contribution to an otherwise shaky goaltending staff. Giguere is the only player in NHL history to not hoist the Stanley Cup, but win Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. His save percentage between the pipes was impressive each of the four years he played for Colorado.
19. John-Michael Liles (D, 2003-2011)
Avs fans cheered for Liles for eight great years from 2003 to 2011. In that time he made four playoff appearances, never making it past the semifinals. He averaged 34 points per season in Denver, marking career-highs in goals (14) twice, in the 2005-2006 season and the 2006-2007 season. He’s still playing, having been on the Carolina Hurricanes roster since 2013.
18. Sandis Ozolinsh (D, 1995-2000)
Ozolinsh won a Cup in Denver with the 1996 team. His best year came in 1997, however, when he netted 68 points in 80 games that year. Save for one injury-plagued year in the 1998-1999 season, Ozolinsh never played in less than 65 games and contributed 50 points or more to teams that made the playoffs each of his five years in Denver.
17. Ryan O’Reilly (C, 2009-2015)
Put aside the unceremonious ending to the relationship between O’Reilly and the Avalanche and it’s not hard to see why he makes this list. He’s played all but this current season in Colorado, making two playoff appearances in that time (09-10, 13-14). His most productive season came two years ago, when he notched 64 points in 80 games.
16. Stephane Yelle (C, 1995-2002)
Like Ozolinsh, Yelle never missed the playoffs during his time with the Avalanche. He was on both Stanley Cup-winning teams, and played at least 70 games in six of his seven years with the team.
15. Chris Drury (C, 1998-2002)
Chris Drury never really disappointed Avalanche fans. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1999, and went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2001. Before making it to the NHL he won the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate hockey player during his time at Boston University. Avs fans will always remember Drury fondly for his clutch play in the postseason.
14. Matt Duchene (C, 2009-Present)
The first current player to make the list, many saw Matt Duchene as the savior of the franchise. He started off hot, recording 55 points in his rookie season and leading the Avs to their first playoff appearance since the 2007-2008 season. He was named to the All-Rookie team and placed third in Calder Trophy voting that year. Now Duchene is one of the veterans on a relatively young Avs team.
13. Adam Deadmarsh (RW, 1995-2001)
Another fan favorite, Adam Deadmarsh was actually a part of the franchise before the move to Denver in 1995. He helped the team win one of their Stanley Cups before he and Aaron Miller were traded in February 2001 for Rob Blake and Steve Reinprecht from the Los Angeles Kings.
12. Claude Lemieux (RW, 1995-2000)
Lemieux was a veteran player before he came close to being on the Avalanche squad. He was drafted in 1983, and would play for both the Canadiens and the Devils before landing in the Mile High City. While here, he played for four and a half years and won one Stanley Cup in 1995.
11. Semyon Varlamov (G, 2011-Present)
Controversy off the ice aside, Varlamov has been a wall in net for the Avalanche. Two years ago, when the Avalanche shocked the NHL and won the Central Division, “Varly” recorded a save percentage of .927, and his lowest goals against average (2.41) since he has been a starter. He also won 41 games that year, and at 27, still has plenty of good years ahead of him.
Check back on CBS4Denver.com next week for the Top 1-10 players.
Ben Warwick is a writer and producer at CBS4 and a huge sports fan. He is an avid fan of most Colorado teams, but was raised to watch the Dallas Cowboys play on Sundays. Follow Ben on Twitter @BenCBS4.