26 December 2009
2000+ years ago the Roman Empire arbitrarily decided that the number system they were going to use was going to be base 10, instead of the much cleaner 12 or 6. That decision has led us to now, where every 1,10,100 and 1,000 years (and sometimes even 5) we get those super cheesy retrospectives that lazy writers use to fill some space . Well I'm certainly not above any such shenanigans so I am using the end of the decade to choose the Avs all-decade team. There will be a 1st team, second team and third team, as well as coach and I'll also unveil the "Sinister-six" the Avs all-decade villain team throughout the week.
If I were a proper writer, I'd take time out to survey Avs experts; mainstream media folks like folks Adrian Dater, Terri Frei, Rick Sadowski, Norm Jones, Mark Moser and even John Kelley (now with St. Louis). I'd also consult all the blogs (linked to in the sidebar) as well as some other knowledgeable fans and come up with a comprehensive list. But alas: I didn't think about this until last week and there's not time to compile all this in time. Instead you get my personal Avs All-decade team(s).
3rd Team All-Avs '00s:
(Note: for the '99-'00 season I just divided the entire season stats by 2 when comparing players. I did not look at old box scores from that year, as that would be too tedious for minimal gain)
LW - Wojtek Wolski (2005-current)
The Avs have had some pretty strong players over at LW the last 10 years. It's not as strong as the ridiculously talented centers the Avs have had, but the Avs have seen some pretty decent players complimenting the guys up the middle. The problem the Avs had was holding onto them. Ryan Smyth, Andrew Brunette and Steve Konawalchuk were all good players for the Avs, but none of them played more than 3 seasons for the Avs, for various reasons. In the 00s there were 4LWs I considered for the team, with all due respect to Shjon Podein and Steve Konowalchuk (who would have probably been considered if not for his career-ending heart condition).
Wojtek Wolski, however, has played for the Avs for 3 full seasons, plus every game this season so far. Wolski has driven Avs fans crazy with tantalizing ability, but inconsistent output. His point totals dropped every season from his rookie season high of 50. Some line demotions, benchings, and even healthy scratches have further frustrating fans that want to see him take advantage of his full ability.
However, Wolski is still only 23 years old, and seems to have found his touch this season. After having a career regular season points per game hovering around .6 his first three years, he has exploded for 37 points in 39 games this season, securing his place as the 1st line LW. Since his rookie season he has developed into a fine defensive player, often seeing time on the penalty kill and shifts against the opponents top forwards late in games.
If Wolski has finally figured it out, as it appears he may have at 23, he could move up to the 1st team all-decade team for the '10s. For this decade, he has done enough to warrant the 3rd-team all-decade LW slot.
C - Paul Stastny (2006-Current)
Poor Paul Stastny. At any other position he would have been 2nd, or even a 1st teamer. But when you have the center of the decade, and another candidate for center of the decade in front of you, there's no shame in being 3rd on this list at all. In fact, if he keeps up his current pace it's possible that the three Avs centers in the 00s will all be Hall of Famers. That's pretty special.
The only other two centers who were even close for competing for the #3 spot were Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle. Between 2002 and 2006 the 3rd line center position (and at times 2nd line) were dominated by the likes of Dean McAmmond, Steve Moore, Brett McLain and the immortal Tyler Arnason.
Paul Stastny has played in more games in the 00s (232) than Drury & Yelle (194 & 162 respectively). Offensively Stastny (72-151-223) has better numbers than Drury (52-89-141). In fact he has more assists in the 00s than Drury had points for the Avs. Stastny's PPG (.961) dwarfed Drury's (.727).
Defensively I'd give a slight nod to Yelle over Stastny in all honesty. But the margin, IMO is razor thin, and Stastnys offensive numbers more than make up for any small difference in defense.
RW - Marek Svatos (2003-Current)
RW is by far the weakest forward spot for the Avs over the last decade, and I think it shows with who was picked here. In fact this spot came down to a comparison of Svatos and Dan Hinote. I really wanted to find a way to give it to Adam Deadmarsh, but Deader only played parts of 2 seasons in the 00s with the Avs (doesn't that make you feel a little old.) Hinote, an energy 3rd/4th liner who played 340 games with the Avs was a fan favorite and actually scored 27 goals and 65 points with the Avs over that time, and also helped out on the penalty kill as well.
However it's easy to overlook what Marek Svatos has accomplished over the last 7 years, since he's in the midst of a downright dismal season for the Avs. He has 90 goals this decade, and 157 points overall. His PPG is almost 3 times what Hinotes was for the Avs. And Svatos DOES have a 20 goal season, as well as a couple 20 goal seasons for the Avs. He has been a pretty reliable player. Everyone expected him to become an Alex Tanguay type, and he never lived up to those expectations, but he has had a decent career here in Colorado so far.
Marek Svatos was the second highest scoring RW of the decade for the Avs, and for that he earns the 3rd team All-decade RW honor.
D - Scott Hannan (2007-Present)
We continue the string of current players making the All-Avs 00s 3rd team with Scott Hannan. This might surprise some people as he hasn't quite played up to his $6M contract, and he was a bit of a disapointment last season (as everyone was). That said, I dare you to look through the Avs D-men since 2000 and find 6 that made a bigger impact this decade. Brett Clark, Jordan Leopold and Karlis Skrastins played for the Avs longer, and both were reliable shot blocking defensemen. But Scott Hannan has been the anchor of the Penalty Kill and first-pair defensemen since he arrived at the beginning of the 2007 season. And this season he and Kyle Quincey have been a pretty good shutdown tandem.
Unfortunately the weight of his contract clouds people's opinion of him, and he gets a bum rap. Some of it was deserved, but he's still the Avs steadiest defenseman. Also the Foote-Hannan pairing turned Marion Gaborik completely invisible in the '08 playoff upset of the Minnesota Wild.
Scott Hannan makes up 1/2 the Avs 3rd team All-decade team
D - Brett Clark (2003-Current)
Seriously, Brett Clark is arguably the 6th best Avalanche defenseman of the last decade. In terms of games played he has 345 games played for the Avs this decade, which edges out everyone except Adam Foote and John-Michael Liles (4th: Martin Skoula with 342). He's also had a couple good seasons points wise, with back-to-back 30+ point seasons from 2005-2007 to earn himself a nice $9M 3-year contract. He hasn't been able to replicate the success that got him that money thought.
Clark is a perpetual grinder, who is positionally sound and who has the courage, and lacks the brains, to willinglly block shots. He also is a crafty veteran who is a good passer and has been on the second powerplay unit for most of his Avs career.
He's been in the doghouse with Avs fans recently, mainly because he has lost a step or two (and he was never very quick to begin with) and he has developed a bad habit of some really awful clears, the fact is that he has probably been the steadiest defenseman for the Avs since 2005. Every coach pretty much knew what they were going to get when Brett Clark stepped on the ice every night. A player like that can be fairly valuable, as opposed to a guy like Skoula who was maddeningly inconsistent.
G - Peter Budaj (2005-Current)
Oddly enough, every single 3rd teamer is currently on the avs. That could be a sign of good things to come, or that this team just isn't as good as it used to be (probably both), but for whatever reason; that's the way it worked out.
The 2-4 spots in the goaltender position were the most difficult to pick, and any one of 3 players could have fallen in any of those three sports. The #3 spot ended up going to Peter Budaj.
Boods has had a rocky love-hate relationship with Avs fans. If there's 2 words that sum up his tenure with the avs, it's "goalie contraversey". For the better part of all 5 seasons with the Avs, this is the only season in which he hasn't been part of a bona-fide contraversey here. His games played stats tell it all. For the Avs, he's never played less than 34 games in a season, and never more than 57. He became popular in his first season as David Aebischer struggled with the Avs, to the tune of a .900 save %, Budaj was posting nearly identical numbers as Aebischer, without the pressure of being Patrick Roy's follower.
The Avs brought in former Hart-winner Jose Theodore to be Roy's successor, but Budaj challenged Theodore for the starting position through Theo's 2+ Colorado seasons. At times Budaj was clearly the stronger goalie, and at other times he struggled. Regardless, they always shared time. During the '06-07 final push Budaj was able to put together a 15-2-2 in which his save % was ~ 12,000% and nearly got the Avs into the playoffs that seemed to plant him as the starter heading into the next season. His .905 save percentage dwarfed Theo's miserable .891. Yet 6 games into the '07-'08 campaign Budaj was thrown back into a goalie competition (even though he wasn't struggling.
He was finally given the chance to be the starter last season, but struggled and shared time with Andrew Raycroft. Nearly left for dead, and there were a great number of people who thought he would be ditched, the Avs decided to bring him back for one more year to backup Craig Anderson. Budaj has taken advantages of him limited chances in '09-, but he's played very strong, with only one really bad outing to show for it.
Budaj's greatest strength has been to not let the constant professional firestorm get to him. By all accounts he's a relentless worker, and a model teammate. It would be easy to understand a guy who was jerked around in his role as much as Budaj to become a locker room problem, but by all accounts he's taken demotions, promotions and disappointments in stride, and never let it affect his team. For his work in the last 1/2 of the decade, Peter Budaj makes the Avs 3rd team All-decade team.
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