2001 Avalanche vs. 2021 Avalanche: How Presidents’ Trophy winners stack up

The last Colorado Avalanche team to win the Presidents’ Trophy was also the last to win the Stanley Cup — the 2001 edition led by current general manager Joe Sakic. Here’s a look at how that team and the current one stack up:

Forwards

2021 Avalanche 2001 Avalanche
Line 1 Gabe Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen Alex Tanguay-Joe Sakic-Milan Hejduk
Line 2 Andre Burakovsky-Nazem Kadri-Joonas Donskoi Ville Nieminen-Peter Forsberg-Chris Drury*
Line 3 Brandon Saad-Tyson Jost-Valeri Nichushkin Eric Messier-Stephane Yelle-Shjon Podein
Line 4 Carl Soderberg-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-J.T. Compher Dave Reid-Steve Reinprecht-Dan Hinote
Extras  Alex Newhook, Kiefer Sherwood, Liam O’Brien Chris Dingman, Scott Parker, Brad Larsen

First-line center Joe Sakic was 31 in 2001 and played with two young wingers in Alex Tanguay, 22, and Milan Hejduk, 25. Sakic was in the prime of his career and reached a career-high 54 goals and 118 points in the regular season. His line combined for 26 goals and 70 points in 23 playoff games and Peter Forsberg was the world’s best second-line center until he had season-ending emergency surgery to remove his spleen after Game 7 of the second-round series against Los Angeles. The Avs’ current top line of center Nathan MacKinnon and wings Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen is arguably the best in the league, and overall, the club has more scoring potential from all four lines. In 2001, the third line was the shutdown trio matched against the opponent’s top line when possible. Today, the Avs aren’t as concerned about matchups and mostly focused on rolling lines and playing fast.

Edge: 2021

Defensemen

2021 Avalanche 2001 Avalanche
1st pair Devon Toews-Cale Makar Ray Bourque-Adam Foote
2nd pair Ryan Graves-Sam Girard Greg de Vries-Rob Blake
3rd pair Patrik Nemeth-Conor Timmins Martin Skoula-Jon Klemm
Extras Jacob MacDonald, Dan Renouf Brian Muir, Nolan Pratt

Three elite defensemen on both teams, but in 2001 those guys were much older and more proven. Ray Bourque was 40 in the 2001 playoffs, Rob Blake 30 and Adam Foote 29. Bourque and Blake, both Hall of Famers, were elite two-way Norris Trophy winners (Bourque won it five times) and Foote was the classic shutdown guy who mostly paired with Bourque. The current star trio of Cale Makar, Devon Toews and Sam Girard are state-of-the-art puck movers — with their skates and sticks. Any NHL team would love to have one of these elite skaters, and the Avs have three. Makar is 22, Girard 23 and Toews 27, and the Toews-Makar pairing is perhaps the best left-shot/right-shot twosome in the league. Bourque and Foote logged more than 29 minutes in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils, and Blake played more than 24. Makar, Girard and Toews are equally capable of that kind of workload in all three zones.

Edge: Even

Goaltenders

2021 Avalanche 2001 Avalanche
Starter Philipp Grubauer Patrick Roy
Backup Devan Dubnyk David Aebischer
Extra Jonas Johansson N/A

Hall of Famer Patrick Roy won his fourth Stanley Cup and second Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2001, so there’s really no comparison to Philipp Grubauer. Grubauer won the Cup as a backup with the Washington Capitals in 2018, after beginning the playoffs as the No. 1 guy until he lost the first two games of the opening round. The Avs like their chances with Grubauer in net, but certainly not to the extent the club believed in St. Patrick in 2001.

Edge: 2001

* Peter Forsberg missed the 2001 Western Conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

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