Top 10 Best Colorado Avalanche Players of All Time

Top 10 Best Colorado Avalanche Players of All Time

The Colorado Avalanche are a men's professional hockey team that plays in the NHL. They are based out of Denver, Colorado, and have experienced quite a bit of success since their founding in 1972. Most notably they’ve won three Stanley Cups and three Presidents’ Trophies. They’ve featured some of the most notable names in hockey history on their rosters, but these ten are the most iconic Colorado Avalanche players of all time.

Who Are the Best Colorado Avalanche Hockey Players of All Time?

  1. Joe Sakic
  2. Patrick Roy
  3. Peter Forsberg
  4. Nathan MacKinnon
  5. Milan Hejduk
  6. Cale Makar
  7. Gabriel Landeskog
  8. Ray Bourque
  9. Adam Foote
  10. Mikko Rantanen

1. Joe Sakic

  • Conn Smythe winner
  • Hart Memorial Trophy winner
  • Most goals scored by Avalanche player

Joe Sakic is without a doubt the quintessential Colorado Avalanche Player. Sakic began his career playing center for the Avalanche in the 1995 season and would stay with the team until his retirement from hockey in 2009. In that time, Sakic set a new standard for Colorado Avalanche hockey. He also managed to rack up some serious awards hardware over the years including winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in the 1995-1996 season, a Hart Memorial Trophy in 2000-2001, and two Stanley Cup titles with the team during his tenure.

Sakic was incredibly consistent with the team, which is why he played in 12 All-Star Games during his time in professional hockey. Similarly, his 625 career goals put him at 16th all-time in NHL history. Sakic was truly one of the premier talents of the 1990s and 2000s which lifted the Avalanche to new heights.

2. Patrick Roy

  • Three-time Conn Smythe winner
  • 11-time All-Star
  • Four-time Stanley Cup winner

Not only is Patrick Roy the best goalie to ever play for the Colorado Avalanche, but there’s also a good chance he’s the best goalie in the history of the NHL. Roy only played for the Avalanche between 1995 and 2003, but he managed to make a huge impact in those years.

Chief among his accomplishments was helping the team to two Stanley Cup titles, which are in addition to the two Stanley Cups that he won with the Montreal Canadiens. Patrick Roy was also one of the most reliable players ever when it came to the playoffs, as evidenced by his whopping three Conn Smythe Trophy wins for playoffs MVP.

As a testament to his consistently excellent play, Roy played in 11 total All-Star Games. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Roy won three Vezina Trophies which are awarded to the best goalkeeper each season. However, it’s chiefly Roy’s playoff success that cemented his legacy as one of the best Avalanche of all time. 

3. Peter Forsberg

  • Five-time All-Star
  • Hart Memorial Trophy winner
  • Calder Memorial Trophy winner

By the time of his retirement from professional hockey, Peter Forsberg had played ten legendary seasons on the ice for the Colorado Avalanche. Forsberg played center for the team and found quick success. Between 1995 and 2004 alone, Forsberg managed to score 201 goals with a 14.8 shooting percentage. His best season came in 2003-2004, in which he led the league in points on his way to winning the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. His other most important piece of awards hardware was a Calder Memorial Trophy win during his first season in Quebec as the best rookie in hockey that year.

Forsberg made it to five total All-Star Games before he retired as a member of the Avalanche in 2011. Forsberg was instrumental to the team when they won the Stanley Cup in both 1996 and 2001. With 159 total playoff points, Forsberg was one of the most clutch Avalanche players ever. 

4. Nathan MacKinnon

  • Six-time All-Star
  • Calder Memorial Trophy winner
  • 285 career goals

As the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, Nathan MacKinnon has exceeded expectations for the Colorado Avalanche. MacKinnon got off to a fantastic start with the Avalanche in his rookie season in the NHL, scoring 63 points in 82 games played. For his efforts, he was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as the best rookie in the NHL that season. Since that rookie season, MacKinnon has only continued to impress. He’s managed to make six total All-Star Games and has even scored six hat tricks in his career.

When he’s on his game, MacKinnon is widely cited as one of the best puck handlers in the sport. He’s also known to hold his teammates to a very high standard, which the team cited as vital to their 2022 Stanley Cup win. With 285 career goals to his name (as of the 2023 Playoffs), all with the Colorado Avalanche, MacKinnon could very well finish as the greatest Avalanche player of all time should his career continue on its same trajectory. 

5. Milan Hejduk

  • 375 total goals with the Avalanche
  • Three-time All-Star
  • 2002 NHL Goal Leader

Milan Hejduk was one of the most talented goal-scorers to ever play for the Colorado Avalanche. In fact, Hejduk scored 375 total goals with the team, which is second only to Joe Sakic in team history. Hejduk played right wing for the Avalanche for his entire career in professional hockey which spanned from 1998 to 2013. He was similarly instrumental in the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup win in 2001.

Hejduk likely had his best individual season in 2002-2003, during which he scored a league-high 50 goals along with 48 assists and a league-best 20.5 shooting percentage. As the top goal scorer of that year, Hejduk joined an incredibly prestigious list of names as a recipient of the Maurice Richard Trophy. Hejduk was also named to three All-Star Games over the course of his lengthy career in the NHL. With a legacy built on loyalty to the franchise and remarkable goal-scoring ability, Hejduk is one of the most iconic Avalanche players of all time. 

6. Cale Makar

  • Calder Memorial Trophy winner
  • Conn Smythe Trophy winner
  • James Norris Memorial Trophy winner

Drafted in 2019 by the Colorado Avalanche, Cale Makar was a player who had the potential to be a once-in-a-generation talent, and thus far into his young career, he’s more than met expectations. Makar won the Calder Memorial Trophy in his rookie season, as he played 57 games and scored an impressive 12 goals as a defender.

After his rookie season, Makar only improved. He made the All-Star game in the following season and came in second in James Norris Trophy voting, which awards the best defenseman in the league. In his third season in the NHL, Makar won the James Harris Trophy outright along with the Conn Smythe Trophy thanks to his astounding performance for the Avalanche during their 2022 Stanley Cup run. Despite being very young into his career, Makar has already racked up some serious hardware with no sign of stopping. Should he continue this pace with the Avalanche, he’ll likely rise much higher on this list.

7. Gabriel Landeskog

  • 2019 All-Star
  • Calder Memorial Trophy winner
  • 2011 NHL All-Rookie team

Gabriel Landeskog joined the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche in 2011 and has played left wing for the team ever since. Landeskog got his NHL career off to a hot start by winning the Calder Memorial Trophy after his rookie season, in which he played 82 games and scored 52 points. He was also named to the All-Rookie team for his play that season.

After that strong showing, Landeskog only bettered with age. His consistency was on display over the course of the next decade, which has thus far resulted in 248 career goals and 323 assists with the Avalanche. Landeskog also became the youngest team captain in NHL history when the Avalanche promoted him to the position at the start of the 2012-2013 season. In 2019, he was named to his first All-Star team. 

8. Ray Bourque

  • 19-time All-Star
  • 2001 Stanley Cup winner
  • Five-time James Norris Trophy winner

Ray Bourque is one of the best defensemen to ever play in the NHL. Bourque spent almost the entirety of his career with the Boston Bruins, where he put up incredible numbers and won almost every award possible. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in his rookie season and would go on to win a mind-boggling five James Norris Trophies for his stellar defensive play.

His time in Boston was nothing other than legendary, but entering the 1999-2000 season, Bourque was still without a Stanley Cup win. In a trade that caught some by surprise, Bourque was acquired by the Colorado Avalanche halfway through the season. He would continue his incredibly strong play that season in the next, and at the end of the 2001 season, Bourque would finally be able to hoist the Stanley Cup trophy. However short, Bourque’s time with Colorado is one of the most iconic stories in all of hockey. 

9. Adam Foote

  • Two-time Stanley Cup winner
  • 42 career playoff points
  • 12.5 seasons with the Avalanche

Adam Foote had an astoundingly long career in the NHL as he joined the Quebec Nordiques in 1991 and retired in 2011. Foote joined the Colorado Avalanche in 1995 and was able to experience two Stanley Cup wins with the team. He was crucial to both. Over the course of his career, Foote has scored 42 total playoff points. Eventually, Foote was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and spent some time away from the Avalanche.

In the middle of the 2007-2008 campaign, however, Foote made his return to Colorado after being traded back to the team. He played for another three full seasons before retiring with the team. Foote was renowned for his truly excellent defensive play along with his strong leadership. He spent his final three years as team captain for the Avalanche. He was known for being a strong leader, and that, along with his many excellent years with the team, has cemented him as an Avalanche legend.

10. Mikko Rantanen

  • Two-time All-Star
  • 2022 Stanley Cup champion
  • 220 goals with the Avalanche

As of the end of the 2022-2023 NHL season, Mikko Rantanen has spent his entire professional hockey career with the Colorado Avalanche. Thus far, he’s been able to put together a very strong career. Like some of the other players on this list, Rantanen was instrumental in the Avalanche’s 2022 Stanley Cup victory. Rantanen has managed to score 26 goals in the playoffs for a total of 55 points. Rantanen was particularly excellent in their Stanley Cup run in 2022, scoring five goals and 20 assists.

Rantanen has already scored 220 career goals with the Avalanche, and considering he has plenty of career left to play, he could become one of the top goal-scorers of all time for the team, as long as he continues to play for them. Rantanen has also played in two All-Star Games in his young career and has served as an alternate captain since 2020. 

Honorable Mentions

  • Rob Blake
  • Real Cloutier
  • Chris Drury
  • Michel Goulet
  • Claude Lemieux
  • Sandis Ozolinsh
  • Peter Stastny
  • Marc Tardif
  • J.C. Tremblay
  • Stephane Yelle

FAQ

Who is the best Colorado Avalanche goalie of all time?

Patrick Roy is without a doubt the best goalie to ever play for the Colorado Avalanche. Roy spent eight seasons with the team and in that span was truly excellent. Over the course of his rather long career in the NHL, Roy played in 11 All-Star Games and won an incredible three Conn Smythe Trophies for playoff MVP. He’ll likely go down as one of the greatest goalies in the history of the NHL.

Who is the best Colorado Avalanche forward of all time?

As center for the Colorado Avalanche for 13 seasons, Joe Sakic is far and away the best forward in franchise history. Sakic has scored a truly impressive 625 career goals and had 1016 assists. He  participated in 12 total All-Star Games and won the Hart Memorial Trophy for his outstanding play in the 2000-2001 season. He also won a Conn Smythe for one of the two Stanley Cup runs that he was a part of for the Avalanche.

Who is the best Colorado Avalanche defenseman of all time?

The best Colorado Avalanche defenseman in franchise history is Cale Makar. Despite being very young in his professional hockey career, Makar has already made an undeniable impression. Makar has thus far won a Norris Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Calder Trophy, all of which are monumental achievements for any hockey player. He’s also attended two All-Star Games and shows no signs of slowing the pace on his way to potentially becoming one of the very best Avalanche players of all time.