The Colorado Avalanche have been quite blessed since their arrival in Denver for the 1995-96 season. Everyone knows about the Hall of Fame-caliber players like Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, and Ray Bourque who have all called Denver home at one time or another and have scored some of the best goals in Colorado Avalanche history.
Though the goaltending ranks may not get quite the love they deserve, there have been a few names that bear recognition in the annals of the Colorado Avalanche. This is your guide for the five best goalies to ever put the pads on for the Colorado Avalanche.
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The Best Goalies in Colorado Avalanche History
Despite all of the focus on the five players ahead of them, goaltender has played an integral role in the history of the Colorado Avalanche. Without further ado, let’s look at the five best goalies in Colorado Avalanche history.
1.) Patrick Roy (1995-2003)
This one is a home run, a slam dunk, and every other analogy for “surefire” you could possibly think of. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even close. Patrick Roy is no doubt the single greatest goalie in the history of the Colorado Avalanche and arguably the greatest goaltender ever, plus one of the best Avalanche players of all time.
Roy was already en route to a Hall of Fame career in Montreal when he joined the Avalanche in a 1996 trade. He wasted no time, helping lead the Avs to the Stanley Cup that same year, the first of three in franchise history.
Roy would go on to win another Cup in Colorado, earning the 2001 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in the process. Roy racked up 262 regular season and 81 playoff wins during nearly a decade in Denver. He also helped make the Avalanche undisputed contenders every year there.
— NHL Hockey Cards (@NHLHockeyCards) April 26, 2023
2.) Semyon Varlamov (2011-2019)
Past Roy, few goalies have had enough longevity with the Avs to really threaten his position on the list. And while he can’t hold a candle to what Roy achieved in Denver, Varlamov will be remembered as a guiding hand during a down period in the franchise.
For nearly 400 games, Varlamov held down the fort. In 2013-14, he had one of the best goaltending seasons in franchise history. He won 41 games, recorded a .927 save percentage, finished as runner-up for the Vezina Trophy, and even finished fourth in the Hart Trophy voting.
No one comes close to the longevity Varlamov delivered, despite only seven career playoff games with the Avs. If he had better teams in front of him, Varlamov may have left a bigger mark on the franchise but should be remembered for all that he did.
— Denver_AVS (@denver_avs) July 1, 2019
3.) Philipp Grubauer (2018-2021)
During Grubauer’s time with the Avalanche, the team teased with potential. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog coming into their own, plus the eventual addition of all-world defenseman Cale Makar, the talent was there.
Grubauer was the solid man in net during that time, going 66-30-10 in 113 games. His .918 save percentage underscores just how consistently solid he was between the pumps during his time in Denver.
Though the season ended with a second-round loss to Vegas, Grubauer had an exceptional 2021. He finished as a Vezina Trophy finalist, leading the Avs to one of their best records in years. Unfortunately, he took his talents to expansion Seattle, even helping lead a stunning first-round upset of the Avs last spring.
Marc-Andre Fleury (@GoldenKnights), Philipp Grubauer (@Avalanche) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (@TBLightning) are the three finalists for the 2020-21 Vezina Trophy. https://t.co/kbe35DGGtR #NHLAwards pic.twitter.com/166QYfMrFA
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 1, 2021
4.) David Aebischer (2000-2006)
Aebischer never really got much of a fair shake with the Avalanche. He was the heir apparent to Roy for three years, finally getting the reins in time prior to the lockout 2004-05 season. Though he earned a Stanley Cup as a backup in 2001, he never could catch on as a starter.
Despite an 89-58-14 record and a .915 regular season save percentage, in 174 games in Denver, few remember him as the unquestioned starter. He was actually slightly underrated in the playoffs, going 6-5 with a .922 save percentage in 13 appearances.
Eventually, the Avalanche traded him for Montreal goaltender Jose Theodore, ending his run in Denver. The Swiss Aebischer will be forever remembered as the sturdy backup during the last great run for the Avalanche in the early 2000s. He will also be talked about as an interesting case of “What if?” had he managed to truly take over for Roy and entrench himself as starter.
— Doug Norris (@GoalieHistory) June 21, 2022
5.) Darcy Kuemper (2021-22)
Hear us out on this one. Yes, Kuemper only had one season in Denver, but it was one of the most memorable in Colorado history. He went 37-12-4 in the regular season, posting a .921 save percentage during a dominant regular season run for the Avalanche.
He had a rough go in the playoffs despite his 10-4 record. Sporting a .902 save percentage, he missed a pair of games due to injury but ultimately returned in time to help lead the Avalanche to their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.
He made his mark in the Finals, becoming just the second goalie after Roy to start in a Stanley Cup clincher. He even earned an assist on Nazem Kadri’s massive Game 4 overtime winner and shut down Nikita Kucherov late in the deciding Game 6. Other names will likely surpass Kuemper at some point in the not-too-distant future. But for now, Avalanche fans can appreciate what Kuemper contributed and how his efforts helped the team hoist Lord Stanley after more than 20 years without a championship for the Avs.
ICYMI: Darcy Kuemper and Nicolas Aube-Kubel get their rings ☺️
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) November 21, 2022
The Avalanche have a shorter history than many of their contemporaries in the NHL. That said, the franchise has been blessed by having a litany of great players roll through the Mile High City in their 27 years of existence.
Goaltending hasn’t gotten the love it deserves over the last two decades, but that does not mean that they have not had some great netminders between the pipes. The franchise is on the cusp of another Stanley Cup and could be on the verge of placing another name on this list.