Ranking of the last 10 seasons of Colorado Avalanche Hockey Part 1: The bottom 5

After writing a more serious article for my first article for Mile High Hockey, I thought it would be good to write my second article on a less serious topic that hopefully will spark a little lighthearted debate for all of you during this off-season employ. Here are my worst five of the last ten seasons of Colorado Avalanche Hockey. A note on the “rules”: The draft and the offseason that immediately followed the season listed will be taken into account in this ranking.

10. The worst of the worst: 2015-16

If an ice hockey fan were to rate the last ten seasons in Avalanche history and the 2016-17 season fell within those ten years, one would assume that this season would come last. However, given the rules mentioned earlier, there’s a good reason why the ’15 -’16 season will end last.

By the end of the season, the Avalanche had finished with 82 points, just 5 points from a playoff spot in the west. Pretty good right? Not really. This season marked the end of Patrick Roy’s coaching time at the Avalanche and provided the team with nothing. The near-playoff miss came just two years after the team won the Central Division and lost to the Minnesota Wild in the first round of playoffs, so it wasn’t a sign of hope for the future. Colorado had the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, picking Tyson Jost, and not a blow to Jost, but he hasn’t quite developed into the player Colorado hoped for when they picked him with their first pick had. Of the other five choices the Avalanche made in the draft, only one cracked the NHL list, Adam Werner, who got a shutout in his first game, lost his second game 6-2 and is now with the Calgary Flames . As for the off-season, the Avs haven’t made big additions. The only notable moves the team took were signing Nathan MacKinnon into his current contract and firing Nate Guenin, otherwise it was nothing but deep moves.

9. 2016-17

I can only remember one positive from the entire 2016-17 season, a 4-3 OT win (after a 3-0) against the Western Conference, which lead the Chicago Blackhawks in the penultimate home game of the season. Even with that tiny little plus, there’s no way we can end this season outside of the last two. The only reason it didn’t finish in tenth place was because of the additions the organization made.

As we all know, the Avalanche ended the regular season with the worst record in modern NHL history (then), not even breaking 50 points. Instead, I’ll dive into what Colorado has done well this season. Most people remember that this season was Jared Bednar’s first season on the team, having been hired less than two months before the season started. Despite Bednar’s lack of national recognition, most Avalanche fans know he’s one of the best coaches in the NHL and has been a major factor in the team’s recent success. Of course, he’s not perfect, and there are a few Avs believers who believe the team is successful despite him, but that’s a conversation for another day. The other big addition Colorado made this off-season was the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. By the time of the Draft Lottery, the team had dropped to fourth overall despite being the worst team in the Salary Cap era, so it was tough to find an Avalanche fan who wasn’t upset about the drop. However, the choice fell on Cale Makar. Cale has since led a mediocre UMass team to the NCAA National Championship, won the Calder Trophy, finished second in the Norris Trophy poll in just its sophomore year in the league, and is poised to become the NHL’s best defender, however there will be more to him in the top 5.

8th 2011-12

This has been a strange season in avalanche history. The team finished with a record of 41-36-5 over .500, but finished seven points behind eventual cup champions LA Kings and missed the playoffs.

There is little to say about this season. The Avs performed well but not well enough to make the playoffs and there have been no significant additions to the team, although I will always have a special place in my heart for David Jones. Gabriel Landeskog’s winning season in Calder was the only notable advantage for the Avalanche that season. Landeskog showed he could live up to the hype he received after his election and ended the season with 22 goals and 30 assists and was the only player on the team to have played all 82 games that season.

7. 2014-15

Another season for the Avs that was pretty common for the team in the mid-2010s. The team finished the season over .500 with the help of 12 OT losses but was still last in the Central and missed the playoffs.

What made this season particularly disappointing was the fact that Colorado had just what many believed was the return to fame the previous season. My only reason to play so high this season was again because of a player they picked in the draft. This time it was Mikko Rantanen. The superstar Finn was voted 10th overall by the Avalanche and has only impressed since arriving in North America. Rantanen won AHL Rookie of the Year the following season after scoring 60 points in 52 games with the San Antonio Rampage, played so well that it stopped Nathan MacKinnon from winning a Hart, and was up for one season a point-per-game player in the NHL. Mikko is the only salvation from this season.

6. The best of the worst: 2012-13 season

The 2012-13 season will be the last on this list where the Avs missed the playoffs. Despite this failure and last place in the Western Conference, the season has actually been pretty solid for the Avalanche, which is why it ranks highest among the missed playoff seasons. The team finished the shortened season on a 16-25-7 record, earning them the second worst record in the league. However, this would allow them to win the first overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, a draft that was top heavy with talents like Seth Jones, Jonathan Huberdeau and current Avs star Nathan MacKinnon.

Almost every Avs fan remembers at the time when the Avs ended the Chicago Blackhawks’ record winning streak of 24 games with a 6-2 win over eventual cup champions. That being said, it’s hard to point out a single game or moment that was positive during the season. Aside from being the underdog in one of the bigger surprises in recent history, the other factor behind this season high was the aforementioned takeover of Nathan MacKinnon. There’s not much to say about Nathan MacKinnon that Avalanche fans don’t already know. He is a superstar in the NHL, considered by many to be the second best player in the league, and has been nominated three times for the Hart Trophy. It’s pretty obvious why he single-handedly holds the 2012-13 season above all other losing seasons the Avalanche has seen in the past decade.

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