From goaltending to drafting, the successful 2022 Stanley Cup run was anything but traditional for the Avalanche

Jun 26, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Andre Burakovsky (95) waves to the crowd prior to receiving the Stanley Cup during the presentation ceremony after their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The shift from Stanley Cup victory to celebrations to preparing for the offseason ahead is sudden. The Avs are already working on next year’s roster, which was made apparent with the first domino falling on Tuesday.

Colorado re-signed 35-year-old veteran forward and trade-deadline acquisition Andrew Cogliano to a one-year deal worth a reported $1.25 million.

But as decisions are made on Darcy Kuemper, Nazem Kadri and others, one final appreciation must be had for what the Avalanche were able to accomplish in their successful 2022 Stanley Cup run.

It was anything but traditional.

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The dominating run needed just 20 games. The Avs were 16-4, sweeping their way through the first and third rounds. They never trailed at any point and were only tied in a series on one occasion (1-1 v.s. St. Louis). The Avs are just the third team in 20 years to dominate the playoffs in this fashion. Only the 2008 Detroit Red Wings and 2012 L.A. Kings were able to win it all without trailing at any point.

But they also went about their business in a different way than teams in years past.

In goal, Kuemper finished the postseason with a 10-4 record. His backup Pavel Francuz was 6-0. Colorado acquired its starter from the Arizona Coyotes last summer, paying a hefty price consisting of defenseman Conor Timmins, a first (2022) and third (2024) round draft picks. Kuemper was drafted 161st overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2009. Francouz was an undrafted free agent out of Czechia.

Kuemper’s journey to becoming a Stanley Cup champion was anything but linear. And it was far different than any other Cup-winning starter in years past.

You’ll have to go back to 2011 to find the last goaltender that made his way to the top of the hockey world on a team that did not draft him. Andrei Vasilevskiy (2021 and 2020), Jordan Binnington (2019), Brayden Holtby (2018), Matt Murray (2017 and 2016), Corey Crawford (2015 and 2013) and Jonathan Quick (2014 and 2012) were all drafted and developed by their Stanley-Cup winning clubs.

The Boston Bruins of 11 seasons ago were led by Tim Thomas, a selection of the Quebec Nordiques. Kuemper became the third starting goalie since the 2004-05 lockout to win it all on the team that didn’t draft him (J.S. Giguere in 2007 and Antti Niemi in 2010). Colorado also won the Stanley Cup with a number of players acquired through trades and free agency. General manager Joe Sakic has made some of the league’s best deals in recent memory, acquiring most of his key role players on the trade market.

The four game-winning goals in the final series against Tampa Bay came from Andre Burakovsky (trade), Valeri Nichushkin (free agent), Kadri (Trade) and Artturi Lehkonen (trade).

Furthermore, only six players on the Cup-winning lineup were drafted by the Avs. Gabriel Landeskog (2011), Nathan MacKinnon (2013), Mikko Rantanen (2015), Cale Makar (2017), Bowen Byram (2019) and Alex Newhook (2019).

It’s the lowest amount of homegrown talent to win the Cup on any team in the salary cap era.

What made the Avs’ run so exceptional was not just how the roster was built but who led the charge offensively.

Colorado was led by defenseman Cale Makar, who had a team-leading 29 points in 20 games en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. The last time a blueliner led his Cup-winning team in points was Brian Leetch in 1994 with the New York Rangers.

The Avs also had three other players produce more than a point per game. Joining Makar was Rantanen (25 points in 20 games), MacKinnon (24 in 20) and Landeskog (22 in 20). No other team has had more than two since the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Many of the guys that helped them win it all might not be here by the end of the next week. But at this moment, they’re Avs legends and they deserve the recognition.

Here’s to the 2022 Colorado Avalanche. The reigning Stanley Cup champions.

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Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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