Who Wore It Best: #17

Another grab bag of players have donned the #17 cloak with the Colorado Avalanche.  And by ‘grab bag’ I mean discount store candy random selection. For every solid piece of milk chocolate, there’s a weird foreign-made honey-flavored … thing. See if you can guess who’s who in my personal candy-based metaphor. Watch out for the black licorice though! Vote for your favorite of the dozen gems from the dime store selection in the survey below.

Landon Wilson: ’95-’97; 16 GP, 2-2-4, 29 PIMs

Wilson switched from #14 in ’95-’96 to today’s #17 prior to the ’96-’97 season. I refer you to that breakdown for more info. He was traded in November of 1996 to the Bruins for the 19th pick in the ’98 draft, which the Avs used on Robyn Regehr. Wilson would go on the be quite the journeyman in both the AHL and the NHL, playing for Providence, Phoenix Coyotes, Springfield, Pittsburgh, the Blues, two different clubs in Switzerland, Grand Rapids, Dallas, and finally the Texas Stars.

Yari Kurri: ’97-’98; 70 GP, 5-17-22, 12 PIMs

The long-time Oiler and Gretzky’s wingman was at the tail end of his career when he signed as a free agent with the Avalanche before the ’97-’98 season. His best days were several seasons behind him at that point. He played a depth scoring role in Denver, but after securing a Bronze medal for Finland in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, he retired from hockey as the highest scoring European-born-and-trained player (601-797-1398). The Hall of Famer has gone on to help with the Finnish National Team as well as being the general manager for Jokerit in Helsinki.

Christian Matte: 1996-2000, 22 GP, 2-3-5, 12 PIMs

Another guy who wore #14 and #17, Matte was drafted 153rd overall in 1993 by the Nordiques. He spent the majority of his early career in the AHL before getting his first taste of the show with 5 games for the now Avalanche in ’96-’97 (that season he wore the #27 sweater before swapping to #14 the following season; he then switched from #14 to #17 for his third and fourth seasons). He bounced up and down over his four seasons, totaling only 22 games over that span and never more than 7 in a season, despite having a decent AHL resume (73, 78, & 104 point seasons). He signed as a free agent with the new Minnesota expansion team, but couldn’t crack the NHL lineup there either. He then had a season in Rochester before bouncing around Switzerland at the end of his career.

Radim Vrbata: 2001-2003, 118 GP, 29-31-60, 30 PIMs

Vrbata was drafted 212th overall by the Avs in 1999. After finishing his junior career in Shawinigan, the Czech winger played 20 games in the AHL. The next season (’01-’02) saw him start in the NHL with #12. He played two seasons in Colorado as an able depth winger managing to score a solid 30 points in each season (he took #17 in 2002 after Mike Keane came back in trade). Vrbata was dealt to Carolina in March of 2003 for Bates Battaglia. From there he went to the Blackhawks for a couple of seasons, then Phoenix, then Tampa Bay, and then back to Phoenix for the most productive 5 years of his career. Two seasons in Vancouver sent him back to Arizona for a year and then he called it a career in Florida just this last April.

Jim Cummins: 2003-2004, 55 GP, 1-2-3, 147 PIMs

Cummins was drafted 67th overall by the Rangers in 1989. He was an enforcer in college at Michigan State and carried his heavyweight rep into the professional ranks, originally for the Red Wings. He played all over the map before finishing his career in Colorado in 2003-2004. In 55 games he managed 1 goal and 2 assists while racking up 147 penalty minutes before retiring. He now scouts the USHL for the Calgary Flames.

Jaroslav Hlinka: 2007-2008, 63 GP, 8-20-28, 16 PIMs

Hlinka was a champion Czech winger in his homeland. He won 4 Extraliga championships before 2007, when he signed a one-year deal with Colorado. His time in Colorado was frustrating. A skilled playmaker, he had trouble adapting to the NHL game and managed 8 goals and 20 assists in 63 games in Denver. One taste of the NHL was enough and signed with Linkipings HC in Sweden. He’s spent the rest of his career in Europe, mostly in HC Sparta Praha of the Czech pro league as recently as last year.

Chuck Kobasew: 2011-2013, 95 GP, 12-11-23, 72 PIMs

Another repeat offender of the multiple jersey numbers, Kobasew switch from #17 to #12 before the 2012-2013 season. The checking line winger crossed the 500 NHL games threshold while in Denver, but the number change didn’t do much for him as he only played 37 games and amassed 9 points in his final season in Colorado. He wrapped up his career with two years in Pittsburgh between the NHL and AHL and then two seasons in Switzerland before a concussion ended his pro career.

Aaron Palushaj: 2012-2013, 25 GP, 2-7-9, 8 PIMs

The 44th pick in the 2007 draft by the Blues, Palushaj didn’t stick in the NHL until the 2011-2012 season with Montreal. He was claimed by Colorado off of waivers in February of 2013.  He impressed immediately with a goal in his second game, playing on a scoring line due to injuries/depth. He followed that up with three points a couple of games later for four points in his first four games. That wasn’t the beginning of a beautiful reclamation project story though, as he’d finish the season with 2 goals and nine points. As an RFA, he wasn’t qualified and signed as a free agent with the ‘Canes. He bounced between the AHL, KHL, back to the AHL, back to the KHL, and then Sweden where he had 45 points last season.

Steve Downie: 2011-2014, 33 GP, 3-18-21, 58 PIMs

Downie started his career with the Avs wearing #27 in the 2011-2012 season after coming over in a trade from Tampa Bay. He was slotted into top line duties and provided seven points in his first  four games. Despite a nagging shoulder injury, he finished the season with 20 games in Denver and 13 points. He re-upped for two seasons but after the end of the lockout saw tragedy strike with a devastating, season-ending knee injury in the second game back. The 2013-2014 season started well where he switched to #17, but possible chemistry issues with the new head coach and others saw him dealt to Philly for Max Talbot. He went on to see time in Pittsburgh and Arizona where things did not end well.

Brad Stuart: 2014-2016, 71 GP, 3-10-13, 16 PIMs

The 3rd overall pick in the 1998 draft arrived in Denver via a trade with San Jose in June of 2014. In a move many fans consider the pinnacle of GM’ing, he was immediately signed to a two-year extension. Never a player that put up a ton of points or even played a full season, the 14-year veteran continued that trend with Colorado. He played in 71 games over 2 seasons, netting 3 goals and 13 points in that span. His second year in Denver was cut short due to a nagging back injury and he was bought out in June of 2016. Like many of the players on this list, the Avalanche would be his last stop in the NHL.

Rene Bourque: 2016-2017, 65 GP, 12-6-18, 56 PIMs

The undrafted free agent managed to carve out a respectable career in the NHL with stints in Chicago, Calgary, Montreal, Anaheim, and Columbus before he signed a PTO with the Avs just before the 2016-2017 season. He made the team and then signed a one-year deal with Colorado, donning #24. He provided some bottom 6 depth to the team notching 12 goals and 6 assists in 65 games. He switched to #17 by the end of the season. The 35-year-old then signed with Djurgardens IF in Switzerland last season and represented Canada in the Olympics before retiring from pro hockey.

Tyson Jost: 2016-Current, 71 GP, 13-10-23, 26 PIMs

A somewhat off-the-board pick according to many pundits, Colorado selected Jost 10th overall in the 2016 draft. After a strong showing as the captain of Canada’s U18 team, and leading the tournament in scoring, the Penticton Vees (BCHL) forward went the NCAA route with powerhouse North Dakota and earned top-line duties (35 points in 33 games). One-and-done was the path for him as he jumped to the NHL for 6 games at the end of his freshman year, wearing #27. He switched to the vacated #17 at the start of the season where he spent the majority of the year with the big club (five games in San Antonio). He put up solid numbers, and got his first taste of post-season NHL hockey (1 pt in 6 games). Part of Colorado’s ‘younger-faster’ movement, Jost hopes to be an integral part of a talented forward corp.

Now you get to choose which of these twelve wore #17 the best!

[qsm quiz=54]


Engineer by day, goalie by night.

One thought on “Who Wore It Best: #17

  • July 4, 2018 at 4:40 PM

    Vrbata, but hopefully Jost will surpass him very soon.

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