NHL

Colorado Avalanche All-Decade Team

Dale Money | March 27th, 2020

We are now a few months into 2020 and with the new decade, we here at The Scorecrow are putting together our All-Decade teams for the 2010s. So who made the All-Decade team for the Colorado Avalanche? Let’s take a look.

The All-Decade team consists of a full team of skaters; four forward lines, three defensive lines, and two goaltenders. My criteria for choosing who made the team is a mixture of historical significance and statistical performance.

Forwards

First Line 

Mikko Rantanen, Right Wing

Just 23 years of age, although you really wouldn’t know it given how much Rantanen has already accomplished at this stage in his career. Having played in 281 career games, Rantanen is currently ranked 17th and eighth respectively on the Club’s all-time list for both game-winning goals and power-play goals. He would make just nine starts in his rookie year, however, would rectify that by the next season, playing in 75 games with Colorado.

Following the sophomore campaign, his points output would skyrocket from 38 points to 84. Rantanen still has a lot of room to grow as his point production has managed to increase in each of his previous three seasons. His line opposite MacKinnon and Landeskog was arguably among the very best in the league last season. Rivaling the Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak.

Nathan MacKinnon, Center

To many of the older generations of Hockey fans, it’s fair to say when you thought of the Colorado Avalanche, you would think of Joe Sakic. Only a few years ago, the role of leader became a split between MacKinnon and Duchene. But by the summer of 2017, Duchene was out of the picture. Once, MacKinnon was placed alongside Rantanen and Landeskog that following season, he was able to take full advantage of it.

By the end of the 2017-18 season, MacKinnon would explode for 97 points which were a 43 point increase from the year previous in eight fewer games to boot. Since then MacKinnon has continued to flourish, with no less than 35 goals in each of his last three seasons. A Hart Trophy candidate in 2019, MacKinnon would also lead the league in shots on target. Still only 23 years of age, with lots of time in which to continue rising up the Club’s record books. Sky’s undoubtedly the limit on what this young man is capable of accomplishing.

Gabriel Landeskog, Left Wing

Now in his ninth year with Colorado, Landeskog has become the elder statesman with Duchene now long gone from the club. Having played 633 games in an Avalanche jersey, he is the longest-tenured player on this all-decade team beating out Duchene. One of the more well-respected players, Landeskog was the youngest NHL player to ever be named Team Captain at 19 years of age. He in fact still holds the honor of team captain to this day. 

Last season would prove to be Landeskog’s best year offensively. As he would break his record for points scored, held since 2013-14. Not only has Landeskog managed to fill up the score sheet year in year out, but has been able to contribute in other ways. In each of the previous two seasons, he would win at least 50 percent of his faceoffs and contributed over 50 blocks.

Second Line

Jarome Iginla, Right Wing

Iginla played most of his best years in a Calgary Flames sweater, however he would have two good years in Colorado, forgetting his swan song in 2017. During those back to back seasons between 2014-15 and 2015-16, Iginla played all 82 games in each of them. In which he would post 106 points, (51) of those being goals.

Matt Duchene, Center

One of the Avalanche’s most sleek and dynamic playmaking weapons during that decade. Duchene was NHL ready from the word go, having been drafted by Colorado third overall in the 2009 Entry Draft. In that rookie season, Duchene would play all but one game, contributing 55 points and 17:44 minutes of ice time. His face-off win percentage of (62.6) in 2016 is the second-best among all players since 2005.

Duchene would serve nine years in Colorado, finishing eighth in all-time points with 428 points (178 goals, 250 assists) in 586 games played. He is in fact only one of two members of this all-decade team, to have played on both the 2010 and 2014 Avalanche playoff teams. 

Carl Soderberg, Left Wing

After getting sent to Colorado through a trade with the Boston Bruins, during the 2016 NHL Draft. Soderberg would show up ready to play that following season, adding 51 points including (12 goals, 39 assists) in 82 games played. It would end up being his best offensive output in those four seasons with the Avalanche.

Soderberg left for Arizona after the 2018-19 season, however, that last year with Colorado proved to be one of his best. Of his 23 goals in that final season, three of those would be shorthanded. And given he would have just one shorthanded goal in his career up until that point, it was indeed significant.

Third Line

Blake Comeau, Right Wing

Comeau played three very steady seasons in Colorado, having not missed more than five games in any of those years. Comeau was not known for the nifty offensive game but was still very useful in other facets. A 14-year veteran, he would in fact set personal bests in game-winning goals, penalty minutes and ice time with the Avalanche.

Ryan O’Reilly, Center

Now into his 11th season in the NHL, O’Reilly spent six of them in Colorado before being sent to Buffalo. In his six seasons with the Avalanche, O’Reilly would rack up 246 points (90 goals, 156 assists) in 427 regular-season games played. He would also be involved in two playoff campaigns in both 2009 and 2014, contributing seven points (four goals, three assists) in 14 games played. Was one of the more solid faceoff men during his time in Colorado, winning at a 51.8 percent clip. 

After two seasons in Buffalo, O’Reilly would be sent to St Louis in the summer of 2018. That following June he would help lead the St Louis Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup victory. O’Reilly would have an unbelievable campaign, adding 23 points in 23 games played.

J.T. Compher, Left Wing

A trade piece that came over from Buffalo in the O’Reilly deal back in 2016, Compher has spent his entire NHL career with the Avalanche. Compher has played at least 65 games in each of his past three seasons, contributing 21 powerplay points, nine of those being powerplay goals. He is tied for sixth on the club all-time in shorthanded goals with five, and is also 22nd all-time in game-winning goals.

Fourth Line

Cody McLeod, Right Wing

We all know why McLeod is on this list of players, as no team would be complete without that bit of sandpaper to hold things together. And fair credit to the red rocket he did a great job in the role, having played for a decade with the Avalanche. During his time in Colorado, McLeod earned over 1,300 minutes worth of penalties and would even chip in with 66 goals in 659 games played.

Paul Stastny, Center

To see Stastny locked in as the fourth line Center, might seem a little surprising ordinarily. Given, he would play eight solid years with Colorado, including four seasons in the 2010s. Due to the club’s wealth of talent at the Center position during that decade, it was really a toss-up between selecting O’Reilly and Statsny for the third line role. Statsny currently ranks seventh on the team in all-time points scored and sixth all-time in team assists.

Matthew Nieto, Left Wing

Originally a waiver wire pickup by the Avalanche in 2016-17, Neito has settled in nicely as a team role player. Already 251 games into his career with Colorado, Neito has done a lot to help as far as quality minutes, timely blocks and those useful bone-crunching hits. In last year’s playoffs, he would have a quality campaign, racking up seven total points which included two short-handed goals and plus-six.

Defenseman

First Line

Tyson Barrie

The quintessential offensive defenseman, Barrie would leave Colorado as the top scorer among all-time Avalanche defenders. Barrie is first in club goals, assists, points, and game-winning goals. However, Barrie’s defensive game would leave a lot to be desired, as his minus-59 ranks second worse all-time among Colorado players. 

Drafted in 2009 by Colorado from the Kelowna Rockets. Barrie would spend two more years in the clubs’ farm system before settling into the NHL. He would then go on to serve six seasons with the Avalanche, finishing with 484 games played.

Erik Johnson

Considered to be the clubs best all-around defenseman, basically since arriving in Colorado. He was the vanilla to Barrie’s chocolate, as Johnson was more of the stay at home defender and Barrie was suited to the offensive side of the game. Johnson joined the Avalanche in 2010-11 from St Louis and has since served nine full seasons with the club. He is second behind only Adam Foote in games played for Avs defenseman. During that decade Johnson would trail behind only Barrie, as the club’s top defensive point-getter. His best season here being in 2013-14, when Johnson supplied 39 total points (9 goals, 30 assists) in 80 games played. 

Second Line

Samuel Girard

Girard has spent three seasons in Colorado, and in that time has served 220 games. Girard has been very dependable when it comes to helping setup Avalanche goals. As his 53 helpers combined in the past seasons would attest. Girard has also been very useful when it comes to eating up minutes, having served an average of 19:40 minutes in his three years with the club.

Nick Holden

Played three full seasons in an Avalanche jumper, his most with any one club. During Holden’s tenure here in Colorado, he would average over 20 minutes a game. His first season here in 2013-14 would prove to be his best offensively, posting personal bests in points and plus/minus. It was also the only season in which Holden visited the playoffs with the Avalanche, adding three goals in its first-round series versus Minnesota. 

Third Line 

John-Michael Liles

I flip-flopped on whether or not to include Liles on this all-decade team, as his core seasons were in the decade leading up to it. However, I feel this placement is fair considering he did play one very solid season with the club in 2010-11, producing 46 points (six goals, 40 assists) in 76 games played. Ranked second all-time, in Avalanche defensive scoring and third all-time in team power-play goals.

Nikita Zadorov

Zadorov was another player that was included in the O’Reilly deal. A hard-hitting grinder on this third line, Zadarov is massive at (6-6, 235 pounds) and makes the most of his size advantage. He has been very useful when it comes to getting into those dirty areas and taking on those overlooked tasks that can help you win crucial contests. In his five years in Colorado, Zadorov has compiled 324 blocks and 887 hits.

Goaltenders

Semyon Varlamov  (Starter)

Varlamov was one of the longest-serving members of this all-decade club. Having started out as a blue-chip prospect with the Washington Capitals, Varlamov would get dealt to the Avalanche in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He would then go on to play the next eight seasons in Colorado, in which Varlamov would win 183 of 378 games started.

As far as all-time Avalanche goaltenders, he trails only the infamous Patrick Roy in games played, wins, shutouts, and minutes. 2013-14 turned out to be his best season with the club, as he earned second-team NHL All-Star honors and would lead all goaltenders in victories with 41.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere  (Backup)

Giguere played three very solid seasons with the club. In 63 starts as an Avalanche netminder, he would win 31 of them with four shutouts, along with 1,762 saves. Giguere is eighth and ninth respectively, in all-time team victories and goals-against average.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few honorable mentions of players at each position group that just missed out on making the Avalanche All-Decade team.

Milan Hejduk, Right Wing

Philipp Grubauer, Goaltender

Alex Tanguay, Left Wing

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Main Image Credit:

Embed from Getty Images

 

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