Colorado doesn’t have the rich history of NHL players as states like Minnesota, Michigan or Massachusetts, but recent history says that might be changing.
Just 16 Colorado natives have suited up for NHL teams, but, of those, 13 have played in the NHL within the last dozen years, and seven are on NHL rosters this season.
Colorado’s best lineup might change drastically if that trend continues, but here’s the best lineup of players born in the Centennial State:
G – Ben Bishop
Arguably the best NHLer to come from Colorado, Bishop has piled up 222 wins and sports a career .921 save percentage and 2.32 goals-against average across a dozen seasons. Bishop has played for five NHL teams, and played in the Stanley Cup Final with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015 season when the Bolts lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Denver native played in the 2016 All-Star Game, and has been picked for the NHL All-Star second team twice (2016 and 2019). Currently with the Dallas Stars, the 34-year-old is in his 12th season. Bishop hasn’t played in 2021, sitting on injured reserve all season. The earliest he will make his season debut is likely in mid-April.
D – Jaccob Slavin
Slavin is in the midst of his sixth NHL season, and all have been with the Carolina Hurricanes. A durable member of the Canes’ stout defensive corps (he’s played in all 82 games of a season twice), he played in his first All-Star Game in 2020.
Born in Erie, Slavin played two fine seasons at Colorado College before signing with the Hurricanes. The 26-year-old had 29 goals and 122 assists entering the 2021 season. Those numbers give him the most points of any Colorado-born defenseman. His brother, Josiah, might be the next Coloradan to play in the NHL.
D – Brandon Carlo
The Colorado Springs native has made an immediate impact with the Boston Bruins since joining them in 2017. He was paired with future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara as a rookie – despite being nearly 20 years younger than Chara.
Coming into the 2021 season, Carlo amassed 12 goals and 39 assists in his career. Drafted in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Carlo is one of just six Coloradans drafted in the second round or earlier. All five of his NHL seasons have been played with the Bruins.
C – Mike Eaves
The highest-scoring NHL player from Colorado, Eaves played seven seasons for the Minnesota North Stars and Calgary Flames from 1978-1985. He tallied 83 goals and 143 assists in his NHL career, both more than any other player from Colorado.
After starring at the University of Wisconsin, Eaves played five of his seven seasons with the North Stars, and got to the Wales Conference Final with the team in his first full season. His 18 goals in that 1979-80 campaign are the most by a Colorado native.
LW – Brendan Lemieux
The son of former Colorado Avalanche fan favorite, Claude Lemieux, Brendan is an agitator that plays a similar style to his father’s. Brendan made his debut in 2018 with the Winnipeg Jets, and is currently playing with the New York Rangers. After being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2015, Brendan was sent to Winnipeg as part of the blockbuster deal that sent Evander Kane to Buffalo.
Born in Denver in 1996 during the Avalanche’s run to their first Stanley Cup, Brendan Lemieux scored his 20th career goal earlier this season. Despite growing up in Colorado, Brendan played internationally for Canada, winning gold at the 2018 U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
RW – B.J. Crombeen
Crombeen played for four teams in an NHL career that spanned eight seasons. His 34 career goals are second only to Eaves amongst Colorado natives. He scored a hat trick against the Nashville Predators on Dec. 8, 2008, which was the first hat trick by a Colorado-born player in NHL history.
A native of Denver but raised in Ontario, Crombeen last played for the Arizona Coyotes in 2014-15. He easily holds the distinction of most penalty minutes by a Colorado-born player with 850 – which is 608 PIMs more than the next closest player.
There’s a reason why Colorado doesn’t have the deep history of NHL players that some other states might have: It’s because Colorado is in the early stages of its NHL history right now. This list will likely change in a few years, and don’t be surprised if players like Troy Terry of the Anaheim Ducks or Tampa Bay’s Callan Foote pop on here in years to come.
Lifelong storyteller and experienced hockey reporter that has covered everything from major juniors to the NHL. Worked for various newspapers across Minnesota and North Dakota, and now covering the Colorado Avalanche for THW.