Since their relocation from Quebec in 1995, The Colorado Avalanche have more-often-than-not been a competitive hockey club. With two Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001, and the current squad a perennial playoff team, It is no surprise the team sifts through talent in order to find the magic key for their next Stanley Cup.
Number 5- Craig Anderson
Probably best known for his almost decade-long stint with the Ottawa Senators, goaltender Craig Anderson spent time with a few different teams earlier in his career. After bouncing around the Blackhawks organization he was claimed on waivers by the Bruins on January 19, 2006. 12 days later by the Blues, and four days after that by the Blackhawks. Anderson spent the rest of the 2005-06 season in Chicago but was traded to the Panthers at the 2006 entry draft. In the summer of 2009 he left Florida as a free agent and signed a two-year contract with the Avalanche. He joined the team and won the starting job from Peter Budaj in training camp. It was his first season as a starting goalie and he posted a 38-25-7 record with a 2.63 goals against average and .917 save percentage. Anderson started the 2010 season with the Avalanche, but with Colorado out of a playoff spot, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Brian Elliott, ending his stint with the Avalanche after just 104 games.
Number 4- Jocelyn Thibault
Drafted 10th overall in 1993 by the Quebec Nordiques, he made his NHL debut with the Nordiques during the 1993-94 season. He accompanied the franchise when they moved to Colorado for the 1995-96 season, but after just 10 games with the newly-formed Avalanche, Thibeault was traded to the Montreal Canadiens as part of the Patrick Roy trade.
Number 3- Johnny Boychuk
Best known for his tenure with the Boston Bruins where he won a Stanley Cup in 2011, and currently with the New York Islanders, his career started when the Colorado Avalanche drafted him 61st overall in 2002. He spent the next four seasons in the AHL before making his NHL debut in 2008, though he was slotted as a forward rather than his usual defense. Boychuk played in just four games before being sent back to the AHL and was traded to the Boston Bruins in the summer of 2008 in exchange for Matt Hendricks.
Number 2- Theo Fleury
After a dazzling 11-year career with the Calgary Flames, his time in Calgary was cut short as the organization was in financial ruin and could not afford to keep the star forward beyond the 1998-99 season. Rather than lose him for nothing, the Flames traded Fleury to the Colorado Avalanche for three prospects, Rene Corbet, Wade Belak, and Robyn Regehr. During his first game in Colorado, Fleury sprained his knee and missed the next two weeks of the season. Even though he suited up for 15 regular season games, he managed to score 10 goals and 24 points. Fleury would join the Avalanche for their playoff run where they made it to the Western Conference Final, where he scored 17 points, which was third on the team. The Avalanche chose to not re-sign Theo Fleury in the 1999 and instead joined the New York Rangers.
Number 1- Dave Andreychuk
Dave Andreychuk is best known for his long tenure with the Buffalo Sabres, and later the Leafs, Devils, and Lightning. After his tenure in New Jersey came to an end in the summer of 1999, Andreychuk signed with the Boston Bruins for the 1999-00 season. He didn’t have the desired effect in Boston, as they were far out of playoff contention. At the 2000 trade deadline, Andreychuk was traded to the Colorado Avalanche along with Ray Bourque in exchange for Brian Rolston, Martin Grenier, Samuel Pahlsson, and a first round pick. He only managed to score three points in 14 games, but did help carry the Avalanche to the Western Conference Final. After the season he signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres.
Captain Canada himself was a long-time Edmonton Oiler, but an excursion from 2006 to 2011 saw Ryan Smyth play for three other teams. After being dealt away from Edmonton at the 2007 trade deadline, he found himself with the New York Islanders. Smyth didn’t re-sign with the Isles at season’s end, instead opting to sign a five-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche. Smyth’s first season was marred by injury, interrupting chemistry he found with Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk. Smyth was healthy during the 2008-09 season, but the rest of the stars on the team were not, prompting the Avs to trade Ryan Smyth to the LA Kings in the summer of 2009, just two years into his five year deal.
After the Mighty Ducks took the New Jersey Devils to seven games during the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, Ducks star Paul Kariya’s contract was up. Demanding $10 million to stay with the Ducks, GM Bill Murray decided to let him walk. Teaming up with fomer linemate Teemu Selanne, who was also on an expiring contract with the San Jose Sharks, they both joined the Colorado Avalanche for the 2003-04 season. On a team stacked to the gills with talent, Kariya dealt with lingering wrist injury which cost him much of the first few months of the season. All in all, Kariya finished the season with just 11 goals and 36 points in 52 games. Despite the strong Colorado team, they were eliminated second round of the playoffs. After the lockout ended, Kariya was deemed a free agent and signed with the Nashville Predators for the 2005-06 season.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: denverpost.com