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The Colorado Avalanche are the 2021-2022 Stanley Cup Champions after beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in 6 games. The Avalanche were deemed cup favorites before the season, held that status all the way until playoffs, and lived up to expectations by winning it all. The Lightning won back to back cups, and were in the finals for the third year in a row, an extremely impressive accomplishment.
Last year, during the 2020-2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Avalanche crashed out in the 2nd round against the Vegas Golden Knights, losing 4 games to 2. The Avalanche were determined to come back even stronger, and made plenty of signings and trades during the 2021-2022 season, let’s take a look at them.
- Darren Helm. The Avalanche’s first major signing of the summer was Darren Helm, a Veteran player who won a cup with the Detroit Red Wings 14 years ago. He signed a 1 year, $1 million dollar contract with the Avalanche. Helm was signed to be a depth player and to bring a winning, veteran mentality to the line-up. Helm played a big role in the playoffs, playing in 20 games, scoring 2 goals and picking up 3 assists as well. As a depth player, he filled the role by having 51 minutes of shorthanded ice time, throwing 97 hits, and blocking 7 shots. Helm played every year before this with the Detroit Red Wings, a great find and pick up by general manager Joe Sakic in the 2021 summer.
2. Jack Johnson. Another Veteran who was a free agent in the summer that Joe Sakic decided to give a chance to, signing him on a professional try out with the club. Johnson ended up earning himself a contract, signing a one year, $750k contract. Johnson, who is now 35, has had a rough last couple of years, the Avalanche being his 4th team since 2018, as he played for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New York Rangers. In the 2020-2021 season, he only played in 13 games with the Rangers, often finding himself on the sidelines. The Avalanche put their faith in him, playing him in 74 regular season games, as well as 13 more in the playoffs. While he didn’t have any points, he filled the bottom defensive pair role, blocking 6 shots, throwing 39 hits, and being a +1 in the playoffs. This was his first time winning the Stanley Cup.
3. Darcy Kuemper. The Avalanche traded away Connor Timmons, their 2022 first round pick, and a conditional 2024 third round pick in order to acquire Kuemper. Philipp Grubauer was lost during free agency to the Seattle Kraken, which is what led the Avalanche to make this trade, creating a quality duo with their back up Pavel Francouz. Kuemper played in 16 playoff games, having a GAA of 2.57, a SV% of .902, and 1 shutout. His performances were questionable at times, but he managed to be good enough to win a Stanley Cup as a starter, proving to the Avalanche that he was the right man for the job. This was his first time winning a Stanley Cup.
4. Josh Manson. The second big trade the Avalanche made in the 2021 – 2022 season was to acquire defensemen Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks. The Avalanche traded away Drew Helleson and a 2023 second round pick in order to acquire Manson. The top 4 defensemen had a solid playoffs with the Avalanche, having scored 3 goals, and assisting 5 more for a total of 8 points in the 20 games he played. From a defensive standpoint, he had 25 blocked shots, 50 hits, and 33 minutes of shorthanded ice time. This was Manson’s first appearance in playoffs since the 2017-2018 season when he played with the Anaheim Ducks, and the first time he has ever won a Stanley Cup.
5. Nico Sturm. Sturm was the third player the Avalanche traded for during the 2021-2022 season, sending Tyson Jost to the Minnesota Wild in order to acquire him. Sturm was a depth player, playing in 13 of 20 playoff games for the Avalanche this season. He probably didn’t make as big of an impact as he would have wanted to, picking up only 2 assists and no goals in the playoffs, but he did help win a cup so there is no discrediting him in that aspect, his first cup of his career. He had 9 blocked shots, 27 hits, and had some penalty kill time, with 13 minutes.
6. Artturi Lehkonen. Arguably the most important trade the Avalanche made was to acquire Artturi Lehkonen. The Avalanche traded Justin Barron and a 2024 second round pick to the Canadiens in order to acquire him. Lehkonen scored the most important goal of the 2021-2022 playoffs, the game winner in game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. That wasn’t the only important goal he scored, he also scored the overtime winner in game 4 against the Edmonton Oilers, which sent the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup finals. Lehkonen played in all 20 playoff games, scoring 8 goals and dishing out 6 assists for a total of 14 points. He also blocked 20 shots, had 48 hits, as well as 32 minutes of powerplay time, and 16 minutes of shorthanded time. He made an impact just about everywhere, and was an extremely smart pick up by Joe Sakic. This was Lehkonen’s first Stanley Cup.
7. Andrew Cogliano. a veteran NHL player who the Avalanche traded for to fill in depth roles. The Avalanche sent a 2024 5th round pick to the San Jose sharks in order to acquire him. The 35 year old has had a long career, playing in over 1,100 games across 5 different teams. He played in 16 playoff games this season with the Avalanche, scoring 3 goals and picking up 3 assists for 6 points. He played a role on the PK, picking up 33 shorthanded minutes throughout playoffs as well. This was his first ever Stanley Cup victory, and it was well earned for a great player who has been in the league for a long time.