Sweden has produced some very talented hockey players over the years. The country is stocked with world-class-skating forwards and talent-rich defensemen. The odds-on favorite to be the number one overall draft pick at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft is a Swede, Rasmus Dahlin.
Today, the NHL is full of Swedish hockey stars. Here are the Top 10 active Swedes in the League.
These players all made the initial cut, but didn’t crack the top 10. Alex Steen, F, St. Louis Blues, Loui Eriksson, F, Vancouver Canucks, Patric Hornqvist, F, Pittsburgh Penguins, Marcus Johansson, F, New Jersey Devils, Gustav Nyquist, F, Detroit Red Wings, Filip Forsberg, F, Nashville Predators, John Klingberg, D, Dallas Stars, Mika Zibanejad, F, New York Rangers, Carl Hagelin, F, Pittsburgh Penguins, Niklas Kronwall, D, Detroit Red Wings
10. Gabriel Landeskog, F, Colorado Avalanche
Landeskog was selected by the Avs with the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Then, on Sept. 4, 2012 he was named their fourth captain in their history. At the time, he was the youngest captain in NHL history. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie in 2012 and has settled into a 50-60 point power forward who can take over a game single-handedly, but can also disappear some nights. He is a prototypical leader, always ready to stand up for his teammates.
9. Anton Stralman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
Stralman started out with the Toronto Maple Leafs, then played two seasons in Columbus, before heading to the Rangers and finally the Lightning. He really came into his own as a hockey player during his tenure with the New York Rangers used as a weapon on the blueline. Stralman is a strong skater who is good positionally. He also makes excellent breakout passes that are the simple play. He’s taken his game to a completely different level in Tampa, registering 219 points in 664 games, with a plus-52 rating.
8. Henrik Sedin, D, Vancouver Canucks
The twin brother who takes the faceoffs, Henrik has been one of the best centers in hockey for a long time. The Vancouver Canucks Captain is known for his creative passes, give-and-go’s, and cycles that he and his brother Daniel are known to create. Henrik was dominant in his prime, from 2006-2011. In the 2009-2010 season Henrik, had 83 assists and 29 goals for 112 points. That season he won the Art Ross Trophy Winner, for leading the league in points as well as the Hart Trophy winner, for the NHL’s league MVP during the regular season. While no longer in his prime, the 37 year old Henrik is still contributing about .75 points per game.
7. Daniel Sedin, F, Vancouver Canucks
Daniel and his twin brother Henrik have been a dominant pair for the Vancouver Canucks for the past decade. Left wing Daniel is more known for being a goal-scorer. He’s a one-time 40-goal scorer, a three-time 30-goal scorer and five-time 20-goal scorer. He had his best year in 2010-2011 when the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup Final. That season, Daniel scored a career-high 41 goals and 63 assists for 104 points, winning the Art Ross Trophy for most points the year after his brother.
6. Henrik Zetterberg, F, Detroit Red Wings
At 37, the captain of the Detroit Red Wings is still a top player in the league. Zetterberg is a rare talent that has tremendous skill and plays a strong 200-foot game. Along with winning the Stanley Cup in 2008 (and scoring the game-winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins), Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also won gold medals in the 2006 Ice Hockey World Championships and 2006 Winter Olympics, making him a member of the Triple Gold Club. Zetterberg put up 118 points (30 goals, 88 assists) in his last two seasons, not missing a single game.
5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Arizona Coyotes
The 26-year-old, sixth overall draft pick in 2009 has all the characterisitics of a terrific defenseman. He has good size, great skating ability, and makes smart defensive plays. Ekman-Larsson is a two-time 20-goal scorer for the Arizona Coyotes. In his career, he’s notched 95 goals and 173 helpers in 539 NHL games. He logs a lot of minutes and is an excellent puck mover. While the ‘Yotes are forever in a rebuild, Ekman-Larsson has consistently been one of their best players.
4. Nicklas Backstrom, F, Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals highly-ranked power play ends with Ovechkin, but runs through Nicklas Backstrom on the opposite half boards. The 30-year-old alternate captain is one of the best passers in hockey. He’s a point-a-game player, with 765 points (197 goals, 568 assists) in 778 career games played. For his career, he ranks seventh in the NHL among active skaters, with a .98 points-per-game average. Though he’s never won a major award, he’s one of the most under-rated players of his generation.
3. Henrik Lundqvist, G, New York Rangers
“King Henrik” has been the heart and soul of the Blue Shirts for over a decade. He has nerves of steel and is at his best when the pressure is highest. He plays deep in his crease and is excellent at reading the play and knowing where to be positionally. For his career, Lundqvist is 424-260-80-63 with a 2.33 GAA and .920 save percentage. Lundqvist has ranked in the top-10 for wins eight times and has been in the top-10 for goals against average seven times. He’s had three trips to the Eastern Conference Final and one to the Stanley Cup Final (in 2014). The 2012 Vezina Trophy Winner still has one more trophy to win.
2. Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
Hedman is a second overall pick from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He took a few years to develop, but since the 2013 48-game season, he’s drastically improved his game. The 2012 Lockout did not benefit any player more than Hedman. That’s when he joined the highly skilled KHL and was able to get a lot of ice time on the larger ice surface. It helped him develop his game and gain confidence while playing a top role for his team. Hedman is a workhorse, logging big minutes and playing on the power play.
At 6-foot-6, he skates like the wind, rushes up in the offense at the right time and can shut down the best in the world. He has been a force for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Only four players have played more games in a Lightning sweater.
1. Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators
Karlsson is a two-time winner of the Norris Trophy (2012, 2015) as the NHL’s top defenseman and has been runner-up for the award the past two seasons. He’s an extraordinary talent and one of the best passers in the game. As a defenseman, that quality can never be overestimated–clean outlet passes out of the defensive zone have tremendous value. While OEL and Hedman are dominant defenseman, they are not yet on the level of the Ottawa Senators captain Karlsson.
The captain of the Sens drives the play up the ice or in the opponent’s zone. He adds value both offensively and defensively. At even strength, with Karlsson on the ice, the Senator’s average four more shots-for per 60 minutes and surrender four fewer shots-against. There are only four active NHL defensemen (Zdeno Chara-617, Duncan Keith-533, Brent Burns-532, Shea Weber-501) with more points than Karlsson (486). They’ve all played at least 274 more games than the Swede.