NHL Players

15 Best Swedish Hockey Players Of All Time

By Kapil Sapkota / 28 December 2023 02:12 PM

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Sweden has produced many talented ice hockey players who have significantly contributed to the sport.

Nicklas Lidstrom, Mats Sundin, and Daniel Alfredsson are the Swedish heroes who have earned global recognition in ice hockey.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the world's biggest premier hockey league, and the top hockey players from around the globe compete here.

Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson, and Filip Forsberg are among the best active NHL players with Swedish nationality.

1. Nicklas Lidstrom

Lidstrom is widely regarded as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history. The Swedish blueliner spent his entire NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, donning the iconic number 5 jersey.

His unparalleled ability to control the game from the blue line earned him seven Norris Trophies as the league's best defenseman.

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Nicklas played a vital role in Detroit's four Stanley Cup victories in 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008 and became the first European-born captain to win the Cup in 2008.

The player totaled 264 regular season goals and 1,142 NHL points throughout his career from 1,564 contests.

The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Lidstrom in 2015. In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history.

2. Mats Sundin

One of the most accomplished and revered Swedish players to grace the NHL, Sundin's dominating career spanned over two decades in the league.

The towering center played the majority of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, becoming the franchise's all-time leading scorer.

In 1997, he became the first European-born player to be named captain of the Maple Leafs and served the team with the capacity for 11 seasons until his departure in 2008.

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The forward gathered 1,349 NHL points including 564 goals through 1,346 matches.

Sundin's hockey legacy was further solidified when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012 in his first year of eligibility.

3. Daniel Alfredsson

Alfredsson's illustrious career unfolded over 18 seasons in the NHL, primarily spent with the Ottawa Senators.

The right winger's journey to NHL stardom began in 1995 when he joined the Senators. He immediately clinched the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1996 as the rookie of the year.

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He was named the team captain of the Sens in 1999. Under his guidance, Ottawa experienced unprecedented success, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007.

Internationally, Alfredsson represented Sweden in various tournaments, contributing to gold medal victories at the 2006 Olympic Games and the 1995 World Championship.

In December 2016, Alfredsson became the first player in modern Senators' history to have his jersey number retired. He became an HHoF member in 2022.

4. Henrik Sedin

Alongside his twin brother Daniel, Henrik formed one of the most iconic and successful duos in the NHL and spent his complete 17-season NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks.

Henrik was drafted third overall by the Canucks franchise in 1999 and was the Canucks' captain from 2010 until his retirement in 2018.

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The 2010-2011 season was particularly noteworthy, with Henrik leading the league in scoring and being awarded the prestigious Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player.

The Canucks retired Henrik's #33 jersey in 2022 alongside his brother Daniel's #22 number uniform. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022.

5. Daniel Sedin

Daniel is a retired Swedish professional ice hockey player whose exceptional skill and contributions have left an indelible mark on the NHL.

Danny was selected by the Vancouver Canucks second overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft and quickly established himself as a force on the ice.

Source : sportsnet

Danny won the Art Ross Trophy after the 2010-11 season as the league's leading goal scorer. As the Canucks' alternate captain, he played a crucial role in the team's journey to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. 

In 2018, after 17 seasons with the Canucks, Daniel and Henrik simultaneously announced their retirement, leaving a significant void in the franchise. The twins' jerseys were retired by the Canucks as a testament to their legacy.

6. Henrik Zetterberg

Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1999 Entry Draft, Zetterberg's entire career in the NHL was completed with the Red Wings franchise.

Henrik debuted in the league in 2002 and captained the Wings for his final six seasons until his retirement in 2018.

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Zetterberg played a pivotal role in Detroit's success during the mid-2000s, contributing significantly to their 2008 Stanley Cup championship.

His ability to elevate his game in crucial moments earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2008 playoffs.

Zetterberg's departure in 2018 marked the end of an era for the Red Wings. In 2020, the team honored Henrik by making him the first European player to have his #40 uniform retired by the franchise.

7. Peter Forsberg

A former NHL player, Peter Forsberg spent the majority of his career with the Colorado Avalanche. Beginning his NHL journey with success, the player won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1995 as the rookie of the year.

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Forsberg's partnership with Joe Sakic and contributions to the Avalanche's back-to-back Stanley Cup championship titles in 1996 and 2001 solidified his place among the all-time greats.

The Swedish forward won the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player in the 2002-2003 season, emphasizing his impact on the Avalanche. He led the league in points and won the Art Ross Trophy in the same year.

The Avalanche honored Peter in October 2011 retiring his #21 jersey. He was rightfully enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

8. Borje Salming

Salming's NHL stardom began in the early 1970s when he broke barriers as one of the first European players to make a significant impact in North American professional hockey.

The defenseman spent 16 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and played his last season with the Detroit Red Wings.

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Salming was a seven-time NHL All-Star and played a pivotal role in transforming the perception of European players in the league.

The player competed in the 1972 and 1973 World Championships with the Swedish national team and secured silver and bronze medals respectively. Borje was the runner-up for the James Norris Memorial Trophy twice.

The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Salming in 1996.

9. Tomas Sandstrom

Sandstrom's NHL journey began in the 1984-85 season when he joined the New York Rangers after being selected in the second round of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft.

Sandstrom's partnership with linemate Tomas Jonsson was particularly memorable, and Sandstrom consistently ranked among the team's leading goal-scorers.

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Throughout his NHL journey, Sandstrom played for several teams. His contributions to the Los Angeles Kings during the early 1990s were especially noteworthy, helping the team reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1993.

He won the Stanley Cup championship title with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997.

10. Nicklas Backstrom

Selected fourth overall by the Washinton Capitals at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Backstrom debuted in the NHL in the following year.

Playing predominantly as the center for the dynamic duo alongside Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom played a pivotal role in the Capitals' journey to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2018.

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Since the 2013-14 season, Backstrom began a streak of six consecutive 50-assist seasons and he consistently ranks among the league leaders in assists.

The player won the Viking Award in 2009 and 2015 as the best Swedish player in the NHL.

11. Thomas Steen

Thomas Steen enjoyed an excellent career in the NHL during the 1980s and 1990s. He was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets (now the Arizona Coyotes) in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft.

Over his 14-season tenure with the Jets, Steen etched his name in the record books as one of the team's leading scorers.

Source : nhl

Steen played in 950 NHL regular season games with the Jets and registered 264 goals and 817 points throughout his career.

Internationally, he won gold in the 1977 European Junior Championship and silver and bronze in the IIHF World Junior Championships from 1978 to 1980.

12. Markus Naslund

A Swedish hockey icon, Naslund was drafted 16th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.

The Vancouver Canucks named him the captain of the team in 2000 and he served the team as the leader until 2008.

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Naslund's offensive capabilities were excellent and he consistently ranked among the league's top scorers. He captured the Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) in 2003 as the NHL's most outstanding player.

Additionally, Markus was the runner-up for the Hart Memorial Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, and the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2003.

The forward was awarded the Viking Award three times between 2001 and 2004 as the league's best Swedish player.

13. Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman was drafted second overall in the 2009 NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He became the Stanley Cup champion with the Lightning franchise back to back in 2020 and 2021.

He received the Conn Smythe Trophy in the former year as the playoffs MVP.

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The NHL blueliner was awarded the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2018 as the league's best defenseman. He was also selected to the NHL First All-Star Team in the same year.

Internationally, Victor won gold in the 2017 IIHF World Championship.

14. Michael Nylander

Nylander's NHL journey began in 1992 when he joined the Hartford Whalers after being selected in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.

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Over the years, he played for several NHL teams, including the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals, and Boston Bruins.

Nylander retired accomplishing 209 NHL goals and 679 points from 920 regular season games. He made 12 goals and 34 points through 47 games in the playoffs.

Internationally, Nylander won gold in the 1992 and 2006 IIHF World Championships.

15. Mika Zibanejad

Drafted sixth overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Zibanejad's journey to NHL prominence began with the Senators.

Zibanejad became the third player in Rangers history to score five goals in a game on 5 March 2020, in a 6-5 win over the Washington Capitals.

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Mika has earned 268 goals and 608 points from 767 NHL regular season games. Yet to win a Stanley Cup, he has posted 16 goals and 47 points from 58 playoff appearances.

Internationally, Zibanejad has won the gold in the 2018 IIHF World Championships and 2012 World Junior Championships, with the Swedish national team.

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