Have you ever wondered who the top goalscorers are in Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques franchise history? Wonder no more. The franchise has had an interesting history that boasts some Hall of Fame names. Here are the top-10 goalscorers for the franchise.
1.Joe Sakic – 625 Goals
Joe Sakic sits atop the franchise-best goalscorers list. With 625 career goals, he has 169 goals more than the next highest player. He’s also considered a legend for his leadership and ability to elevate the play of his teammates. Burnaby Joe (born in Burnaby, British Columbia) owned a wicked wrist shot that struck fear into the hearts of goaltenders across the league.
For a player who wasn’t even his team’s first selection in the draft, he’s developed into the face of the franchise. The Nordiques picked up Sakic 15th overall in the 1987 Entry Draft, their second selection in the draft. He played his entire career – 20 years – with the Nordiques/Avalanche.
Super Joe led the team through some dark years before the club moved to Colorado and won their first Stanley Cup ever their first season in the new locale in 1996. Becoming the Colorado Avalanche, he helped the team become an NHL powerhouse for years, including winning a second Cup in 2001, despite having rookie head coaches for both Cup runs. One iconic moment exemplifies Sakic’s years as team captain – handing the Stanley Cup to Ray Bourque to lift first after winning the championship.
Playing center, Sakic skated with the likes of Milan Hejduk, Peter Forsberg, Alex Tanguay, Scott Young, and Adam Deadmarsh. Despite a rotating cast of linemates, he owns most of the franchise scoring records and when he retired in 2009, he ranked near the top in a few NHL all-time categories – eighth among point leaders, 14th in all-time goals, 11th all-time in assists, seventh in playoff goals (84) and playoff points (188). His list of accolades is long and impressive.
Currently, Sakic serves as an Executive Vice President and general manager for the Avalanche. Just like his playing time with the franchise, his early years were a little rocky, but he’s led a team rebuild that has the club eyeing their third-straight postseason run.
- Stanley Cup Champion 1996
- 2001 Hockey Hall of Fame
- Hart Memorial Trophy
- Conn Smythe Trophy
- Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
- Lester B. Pearson Award
- Ted Lindsay Award
- 100 Greatest NHL players
- NHL All-Star MVP
- 13-time NHL All-Star
- Foundation Player Award for his charity work
- 1,641 points
- 1,378 games played
- First for most NHL Playoff overtime goals (8)
- Seventh for playoff goals (84)
- Eighth for most NHL playoff points (188)
- Ninth for NHL career points (1,641)
- 11th in shots (4,621)
- 12th in average points per game (1.12)
- 13th in assists (1,016)
- 16th in goals (625), power play goals (205), short-handed goals (32) and average assists per game (.74)
- Team captain for 16 years
- Jersey retired
- First in goals (625), assists (1,016), points (1,641), even-strength goals (388), power play goals (205), short-handed goals (32), game-winning goals (86), shots (4,621), and most games played (1,378)
- Second in hat tricks (15)
- Fourth in average goals per game (.45) and average points per game (1.19)
2. Michel Goulet – 456 Goals
Michel Goulet played for the Quebec Nordiques for 813 games and racked up 456 goals, second all-time for the franchise. A first-round selection in the 1979 Entry Draft, his career with the Nordiques spanned the 1979-80 season to 1989-90. During that time, he helped his team to two Stanley Cup semifinal appearances.
He was traded to the Blackhawks where he played for another 276 games, reaching the Stanley Cup Final once. A concussion ended his career after 15 years. His prowess at left wing places him among the elite snipers in the NHL and he ranks among the top-10 left wings ever in the NHL in most scoring categories.
Related: Quebec Nordiques Franchise Four
Goulet retired in 1994 and eventually joined the Avalanche as the director of player personnel, onboard for both Stanley Cup-winning seasons. He eventually moved into a scouting role for the Calgary Flames and then joined the Anaheim Ducks in the same role for the 2017-18 season.
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- Five-time NHL All-Star
- 1,089 NHL games
- 1,153 points
- Seventh for NHL left wings in career goals (548), assists (605) points (1,153), power-play goals (179)
- Jersey retired
- First in average goals per game (.56)
- Second in goals (456), even-strength goals (294), power play goals (147) and short-handed goals (15)
- Third in points (946), game-winning goals (47), shots (2,547) and hat tricks (13)
- Fourth in games played (813), assists (419)
- Fifth in average points per game (1.16)
3. Peter Stastny – 380 Goals
Peter Stastny entered the NHL in an unusual manner, when he and his brother Anton defected from Czechoslovakia to Canada in 1980, joining the Nordiques. His brother Marian followed suit a year later and they became the third trio to play together for the same NHL club.
Peter the Great set a number of rookie NHL records during his first season with the Nordiques, including breaking the 100-point barrier for the first time for a rookie. He and Anton both set a record, recording eight points in a road game as rookies. Their performance helped open the door for other European players in the NHL.
He was traded to the New Jersey Devils before the 1990 trade deadline where he played through 1993. He finished his career playing a handful of games for the St. Louis Blues.
Stastny eyed a career in politics after hockey and pursued a position in the European Parliament where he served from 2004-2014. Both of his sons – Yan and Paul – play professional hockey.
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- Six All-Star appearances
- Calder Memorial Trophy
- 1,299 career points
- In the same game, tied his brother for first in the NHL for points scored in a single road game and second for most points in one game (8).
- Seventh in the NHL for average points per game (1.42) and average assists per game (.81)
- First in average points per game (1.42) and hat tricks (16)
- Second in assists (668), points (1,048), and average assists per game (.91)
- Third in goals (380), even-strength goals (254), and average goals per game (.52)
- Fourth in power play goals (120), game-winning goals (43), and shots (1,945)
- Ninth in penalty minutes (687)
4. Milan Hejduk – 375 Goals
Hejduk, a fourth-round pick in the 1994 draft, frequently played with Tanguay, Sakic and Forsberg. The Czech right wing spent his entire career with the franchise, skating in his first NHL game in 1998, and retiring in 2013.
His humble attitude carried him through the highs and lows of the Avalanche’s decline from Stanley Cup champs to reorganization onto the coaching carousel. Hejduk earned respect for his consistently smart play, solid work ethic, ability to get pucks off the wall, and his quick hands. Affectionately called “The Duke,” he developed into the third-highest scoring Czech player in NHL history.
Knee problems impacted his career later on and forced him into early retirement. Hejduk coached his twin sons’ hockey team and is focused on supporting their hockey dreams. He made the news when he became an official U.S. citizen in 2016.
- 2001 Stanley Cup champion
- Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy
- Three-time NHL All-Star
- 1,020 games
- Retired jersey
- Team captain
- First in overtime goals (9)
- Second in game-winning goals (59), games played (1,020), and shots (2667)
- Third in power play goals (140)
- Fourth in goals (375), points (805) and even-strength goals (229)
- Fifth in assists (430) and plus/minus (101)
- 10th in short-handed goals (6)
5. Anton Stastny – 252 Goals
Anton Stastny’s brother Peter ranks third on the franchise list for goals scored. They played nine years together for the same team after defecting together from Czechoslovakia, four of them with their other brother Marian. The Stastnys were only the third trio of brothers to play together, and they frequently played on the same line. The Stastnys helped a struggling Nordiques franchise reach the Cup semi-final twice, garnering respect along the way.
Drafted 84th overall, in the fourth round of the 1979 Entry Draft, Anton racked up 252 goals for the Nordiques, good enough for fifth all-time. The left wing played 650 NHL games, all for Quebec. He ranks ninth in the NHL for points by a Slovak player.
Anton played his final NHL game in the 1988-89 season although he played another three seasons of hockey in the Swiss leagues before hanging up his skates in 1992.
In the same game, tied his brother for first in the NHL for points in a single road game and second for most points in one game (8).
- Fifth in goals (252), even-strength goals (172), and power play goals (80)
- Sixth in assists (384) and points (636)
- Seventh in game-winning goals (31) and average points per game (.98)
- Eighth in games played (650)
- Ninth in shots (1,404) and average assists per game (.59)
6. Peter Forsberg – 217 Goals
Forsberg showcased incredible talent, yet his career typifies how injuries can hamper a stellar career. The Philadelphia Flyers picked up the Swedish center sixth overall in the 1991 Entry Draft, the same draft the Nordiques selected Lindros first overall. A year later, the Nordiques acquired Forsberg as a piece in the Lindros trade, which set up the franchise for over a decade of success.
He made his NHL debut in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season for Quebec. The franchise relocated to Denver the following year. Forsberg developed into a power center, showcasing incredible scoring chops combined with a physical presence. He could razzle-dazzle opponents with his quick moves and burn them with his sneaky shots and passes.
The salary cap forced the Avalanche to make some tough choices at the end of the 2005-06 season. Forsberg had started to encounter injury issues, already missing part of the club’s second Stanley Cup run and all of the following season after rupturing his spleen. The team made him a reasonable but not generous offer, trying to keep the whole team together, but Forsberg elected to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers. Though he was named the Flyers captain the following season, the injury bug re-appeared, forcing the club to trade him at the Feb. 2007 deadline to the Nashville Predators, where he played only 17 games.
He subsequently faced surgery for his foot and ankle issues before attempting a comeback with the Avalanche in Feb. 2008. A groin injury curtailed his return. Forsberg went back to play in Sweden for two seasons before attempting another comeback with the Avalanche in February of 2011. Unfortunately, his nagging foot and ankle problems forced him into announcing his retirement instead.
Despite an injury-hampered career that shortened him to 708 NHL regular-season games, Forsberg’s incredible play over 13 seasons still places him in the record books. It’s a testament to his hockey prowess and leaves the question of what might have been. Nevertheless, his career is remarkable.
After retiring, Forsberg joined Modo Hockey as an assistant general manager, working under friend and fellow Swede Markus Naslund. He stepped back from the role to raise his kids. He’s engaged in a number of business ventures that he started when recovering from injuries. Even though he calls Sweden home, Foppa frequently shows up for Avalanche games, so it’s not unusual to see him visiting in the stands.
- Two Stanley Cup championships
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- Five All-Star appearances
- Calder Memorial Trophy
- Art Ross Trophy
- Hart Memorial Trophy
- Fourth in NHL for average assists per game (.90)
- Eight in NHL for points per game (1.25)
- Retired jersey
- First in plus/minus (210), average assists per game (.91)
- Second in short-handed goals (15) – tied with Goulet, average points per game (1.28)
- Third in assists (538)
- Fourth in hat tricks (7)
- Fifth in points (755)
- Sixth in goals (217), even-strength goals (145), power play goals (57), and game-winning goals (38)
- Seventh in shots (1,462)
7. Gabriel Landeskog* – 198 Goals
*(Landeskog currently plays for the Avalanche so both his career and Avalanche rankings will likely change.)
In the 2011 Entry Draft, the Avalanche selected Gabriel Landeskog with the second-overall pick. The young Swede became one of the youngest team captains in the NHL the following year, after only one season in the club sweater. While some questioned naming a 20-year-old with only one NHL season under his belt, Landeskog proved the organization’s faith in him was well-founded.
He brings a solid 200-foot game to the ice, battling for pucks, unafraid to stand up for teammates, finding ways to score critical goals, and finessing goal-line tip-ins. He stays the course. He managed to keep the team together through a painful 48-point season despite a star player wanting to leave. That alone deserves a trophy.
His efforts have been rewarded when the team roared back the following season, earning their first postseason berth in four seasons, battling to a seven-game, second-round playoff knockout the following season, and vying for the first place slot in the Western Conference in the 2019-20 hiatus-delayed season.
Landy’s career ranking merely reflects his efforts to support, drag, and encourage his team throughout his NHL time. At 27 years old, he still has plenty of hockey in his future, so expect him to accumulate more accolades – both for the team and himself. He’s great with both teammates and fans, and could well be a male model after his hockey career ends.
- Calder Memorial Trophy
- NHL All-Star
- Team Captain
- Sixth in shots (1,724)
- Seventh in goals (198) and even-strength goals (141)
- Eighth in power-play goals (52) and game-winning goals (30)
- Ninth in games played (633)
- 10th in points (460)
8. Nathan MacKinnon* – 190 Goals
*(MacKinnon currently plays for the Avalanche so both his career and Avalanche rankings will likely change.)
Young star Nathan MacKinnon roared to the top of NHL goalscorers in the past three years. The 24-year-old, 2013 first-overall draft pick took awhile to dominate in the NHL, but he’s emerged as an electric scoring center.
The intense Canadian plays a quick, shifty game. He turns on a dime and scores from anywhere on the ice. He’s been near the top of Hart Trophy and MVP conversations for the past three seasons. In the current hiatus-delayed season, Nate the Great proved he could win with a variety of linemates as injuries decimated the team but they kept finding ways to win.
MacKinnon should be able to quickly rise above all of his current rankings. After hockey, he may have a career in television, as his Tim Horton’s commercials with his friend and neighbor Sidney Crosby continue to entertain.
Keep in mind, MacKinnon’s rankings cover 525 regular-season games, the fewest of any player on this list.
- Calder Memorial Trophy
- Four-time NHL All-Star
- Three consecutive seasons of being in the top 10 in the NHL for goals and points
- Fifth in game-winning goals (39) and shots ( 1,896)
- Seventh in points (495) and power play goals (56)
- Eighth in goals (190)
- Ninth in assists (305) and even-strength goals (132)
- 10th in average assists per game (.58) and average points per game (.94)
9. Matt Duchene+ – 178 Goals
(+Duchene currently plays in the NHL, so while his numbers with the Avalanche are stagnant, his career numbers will continue to rise.)
Before Matt Duchene’s notorious departure from the club, he contributed to a lot of scoring over his time with the Avalanche. The team selected the Canadian center third overall in the 2009 Entry Draft.
Duchene developed a reputation as a streaky scorer while with the team. When he was on, he was amazing. When he wasn’t, he looked like he was shooting a beach ball instead of a puck. Duchy played an opportunistic style, quick to steal a puck and keep it, with a nose for the net. He played 586 regular-season games with the club and has skated in 793 for his career.
Duchene reportedly requested a trade before the Avalanche’s dismal 48-point season, which did not help improve the team’s locker room environment. Sakic waited – despite plenty of criticism – for the right offer and sent him to the Ottawa Senators the following season – 2017-18. Shortly after his departure, Colorado began playing like a group unleashed and started climbing the standings.
The Senators began to crumble after the trade, and their struggles continued into the following season. Eventually, they traded Duchene to the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he helped the team get through to the second round of the 2019 playoffs. He signed with the Nashville Predators the following offseason.
- Two-time All-Star
- Eighth in even-strength goals (137) and shots (1,453)
- Ninth in goals (178) and (29)
10. Alex Tanguay – 167 Goals
Coming in at number 10, meet Alex Tanguay, the Canadian-born left wing who the Avalanche selected 12th overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He played a skilled game and was noted for his dynamic playmaking ability, finding ways to feed his teammates’ crucial goals. While he’s on the list for his goalscoring ability, he ranks eighth on the franchise leaderboard for assists, his hallmark skill.
Tanguay entered the league with the Avalanche and ended up playing for them in two separate stints. He played 1,088 games over his career, with 598 total contests wearing the “A.” He racked up 488 points over his tenure with Colorado, 167 of those points were goals. He frequently played on lines with Milan Hejduk along with one of two centers – Joe Sakic or Peter Forsberg. Both centers won the Hart Memorial Trophy while playing with Tanguay on their wing.
Tanguay scored two goals in the Avalanche’s 2001 Game 7 win against the New Jersey Devils, including the game-winner, securing the team’s second Stanley Cup.
With the advent of the salary cap era, Colorado struggled to keep its talented crew together. Tanguay ended up playing for the Calgary Flames for two seasons before requesting a trade. The Flames sent him to the Montreal Canadiens where injuries began to hamper his career trajectory. He went to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the following season. He elected to return to Calgary for the 2010-11 season, where he stayed for three seasons. The Flames traded him back to Colorado in June of 2013.
Injuries continued to be his biggest opponent as he missed a good portion of one season to undergo hip surgery and struggled to find his form when he returned to hockey. His ice time decreased and the Avalanche, vying for a playoff spot, traded Tanguay to the Arizona Coyotes at the 2016 trade deadline, where he finished his career. He announced his retirement the following February.
Currently, Tanguay continues to work in hockey. He started as an analyst for the NHL Network right after retiring as a player. Currently, he’s serving as the assistant coach for the AHL Iowa Wild, along with former Avalanche assistant coach – now Iowa head coach – Tim Army.
- 2001 Stanley Cup winner
- 1,088 NHL games
- 2004 NHL All-Star
- Six seasons in the NHL top 10 for shooting percentage
- Three seasons in the NHL top 10 for plus/minus
- 59 Playoff points in 98 postseason contests
- 10th in goals (167), even-strength goals (125) and game-winning
- goals (28)
- Eighth in assists (321) and points (488)
- Third in shooting percentage (19.4%)
Whether called the Avalanche or the Nordiques, the franchise iced some impressive forwards over the years. It will be interesting to see which rankings hold over the next decade, as a new crop of talent lurks on the horizon, ready to make their mark.
J.D. has followed the Colorado Avalanche since the days of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. Blessed to cover the team for nearly 5 seasons, 3 of those at other venues, J.D. enjoys working with the Hockey Writers. Proud parent of three humans and two dogs, you can follow all the escapades @JDKpirate.