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February 9th 1998. Sports Illustrated ran an article talking about the Nagano Winter Olympics and how the NHL was going to allow their players to compete. In the article was a photo of Colorado Avalanche standing on a map, with the players that represent their homelands standing on their country (If anyone can find that photo, please let me know). Here's the caption to that photo:


Adam Deadmarsh of Team USA and Peter Forsberg of Sweden are best pals, whether they're leading Colorado's attack on the ice or riding their beloved Harleys together, so they may have the roughest adjustment of the nine Avalanche teammates who will find themselves playing for six countries at the Games. Where in the world are they all from and whose colors are they wearing? We're glad you asked. Clockwise from bottom left: Deadmarsh (U.S.); Joe Sakic, Adam Foote and Patrick Roy (Canada); Forsberg (Sweden); Jari Kurri (Finland); Valeri Kamensky and Alexei Gusarov (Russia); and Uwe Krupp (Germany).


Milan Hejduk (Czech Republic) and Sandis Ozolinsch (Latvia) were also on that 1998 squad. Part of the Avs success flowed from their ability to dig up talent across the globe.

Now? Well here's a look at the Avs roster. Let's narrow down that list to include Avs that weren't born in North America:

Peter Forsberg (Sweeden)
Milan Hejduk (Czech Republic)
Ruslan Salei (Russia)
Peter Budaj (Slovakia)
Marek Svatos (Slovakia)
Jaroslav Hlinka (Czech Republic)
Wojtek Wolski (Poland)

Let's take a look at these players for a second. Forsberg was famously drafted and traded for Eric Lindross in 1991. Milan Hejduk was drafted in 1994. Salei was acquired via trade. Budaj was drafted by the Avs in 2001 (out of the OHL I might add). Svatos was drafted in the same year as Budaj (2001) in the 7th round (out of the WHL). Hlinka was recruited, by Milan Hejduk, last season and Wolski was North American raised and drafted from the OHL.

Looking at the Avs top prospects only 1 is from outside North America (Denis Parshin #17 on the list).

It's time to worry Avs fans, this is a major problem. Successful teams are finding talent outside the new world. The most obvious example is the Red Wings who are currently dominating the Western Conference on the backs of players like Datsyuk (Russia), Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Zetturberg, Kronwall, Franzen (Sweeden), Jiri Hudler (Czech or Slovak), Filpulla (Finland) and more. They are the best at it, but teams like the Stars, , Sharks, Rangers and Senators rely heavily on talent from across the pond. Just take a look at the recent drafts of the Wings and Avs over the last few years and you'll see why the Wings dominated the previous series.

The most frustrating part is that the Avs have an excellent scouting department. Some of their late round steals include Finger, Cumiskey, David Jones, Brad Richardson, Marek Svatos, Cody McCormick, and JM Liles. Despite having a good eye for talent the scouts are stationed here on the continent while teams like the Red Wings get the pick of the top talent overseas.

Before the lockout many pundits said the Avs and Red Wings success was in large part their ability to out spend teams on high priced free agents. The salary cap was supposed to change all that. That was only partially true, but part of their success was their ability to take some of the best talent from overseas and put them on their roster. The Red Wings adjusted to the Salary Cap era by spending all the money they would have on players and investing it into overseas scouting. What are the Avs doing with it?