The 2022 NHL Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set to go tomorrow and this year’s contingent of inductees is most impressive. What is also great about this year’s inductees is that it features some noticeable Scandinavian talent in Daniel Alfredsson, as well as Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Also as part of the past week, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the National Hockey League have been honoring the great Börje Salming who is battling AHS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Salming is arguably one of the greatest Swedish hockey players ever to lace them up and was the inspiration for this post.
The Top 50 Swedish Hockey Players of All-Time
As we compiled this list, we wanted to capture not only Swedish players that played in the NHL, but players who represented Sweden in International events as well in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). While the majority of our list does consist of players who have played in the NHL, it is great to look back on just how many great hockey players that the country of Sweden has produced over the years.
Let’s take a look at our list of the top 50 Swedish players of all-time.
#50. Kim Martin Hasson – of course our list begins with a goaltender. With a number of individual accolades Kim Martin is one of women’s hockey most decorated players. As an Olympian with the Swedish women’s team, she won a silver medal in Turin in 2006 and a bronze in Salt Lake City in 2002. She was named Best Goalie after her performance in the 2006 Olympic tournament. In 2011, she was named the WCHA Goaltender of the Year. Martin also had a couple of successful seasons with the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs Women’s hockey team.
#49. Robin Lehner – another strong Swedish goaltender. Lehner has currently played over 360 NHL games compiling 152 wins and a save percentage of .917. Known for some of his outspoken comments and as an advocate for mental wellness, Robin Lehner is currently one of the top Swedish-born tenders in the game.
#48. Tommy Salo – played in 526 NHL games compiling 210 wins a .905 save percentage and a GAA of 2.55.
#47. Tomas Holmstrom – boy the Red Wings like their Swedish imports don’t they? In his 15 season with Detroit, Holmstrom had 530 points and 769 penalty minutes in 1,026 games.
#46. Pernilla Winberg – scored 282 points across her 9 year SDHL career, winning two SDHL championships. She made over 300 appearances for the Swedish national team, winning a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics. She also won bronze at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships.
#45. Calle Johansson – over 1,100 games played in the NHL. 535 points as a defenseman is not too bad.
#44. Michael Nylander – over 15 seasons, Nylander had 679 points in 920 games played.
#43. Jan Sandström – one of the all-time leaders in games played in the SHL. Sandström played most of his career with Luleå HF. He put up 230 points in 952 games played in the SHL.
#42. Gabriel Landeskog – drafted second overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Landeskog has potted 571 points in 738 games played and counting. Won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2012, won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2021-22.
#41. Peter Gradin – Playing his career mostly with AIK Ishockey Peter Gradin won three Swedish championships for the team in 1978, 1982 and 1985. He ended up playing 492 games in the Swedish Elite League (SEL) putting up 217 goals and 418 points.
#40. Magnus Wernblom – played mainly for Modo where he holds the franchise scoring record for most all-time goals (276) as well as the second highest franchise record for most games played (723).
#39. Pelle Lindbergh – playing with the Philadelphia Flyers from 192 until his untimely death in 1985, Pelle Lindbergh was an up-and-coming star. In 1984-85 he played in 65 games for the Flyers and won the Vezina trophy after facing over 1,900 shots that season. He helped propel the Flyers to the 1985 Stanley Cup Final against the juggernaut Edmonton Oilers. He died in a car accident in November of 1985.
#38. Mika Zibanejad – currently still active with the New York Rangers, Zibanejad has 533 points in 701 career games (and counting).
#37. Johan Hedberg – another goaltender enters our list. During his NHL career, Hedberg played in 373 games for Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Dallas, Atlanta and New Jersey. A career save percentage of .901 with a GAA of 2.82.
#36. Patrik Sundstrom – had a ten-year career in the NHL with 588 points in 679 games including a 38 goal, 91 point season with the Canucks in 1983-84.
#35. Maria Rooth – Maria Rooth is a four-time Team Sweden Olympian. She played more than 260 games for Team Sweden. At the 2009 IIHF World Championship, Rooth netted her 100th career international goal, a first for a Team Sweden player.
#34. Fredrik Bremberg – a right winger, drafted in the third round, 55th overall, by the New Jersey Devils in the 1991 he is the all-time leader in regular season points scored in Elitserien. Bremberg put up 581 points in 773 SEL games.
#33. Ove Molin – Playing mostly with Brynäs IF in the SHL, Molin put up 484 points in 770 career games in the SHL and is one of the top five scorers in SHL history.
#32. Pelle Eklund – Swedish players tend to have very good points per game ratios. Eklund had a solid .77 PPG during his NHL career where he amassed 455 points in 594 games with all but three points coming as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
#31. Jakob Markstrom – currently playing with the Calgary Flames, Markstrom has played nearly 400 NHL games and posted a .911 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average.
#30. Johan Davidsson – Playing most of his career with HV71 of the Swedish Elite League, Davidsson amassed 561 points in 776 games in the SEL. He is the all-time leader in points in the SHL with 561. He won the Swedish championship four times.
#29. Joel Lundqvist – 482 points in 864 SHL games for the twin brother of Henrik Lundqvist. Joel Lundqvist played the majority of his career with Frölunda HC in the SHL. He also played 134 games with the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
#28. Loui Eriksson – drafted 33rd overall by Dallas in 2003, Eriksson has quietly put up 613 points in 1,050 NHL games with Dallas, Boston, Vancouver and Arizona.
#27. Ulf Samuelsson – perhaps a bit of a controversial pick here, but you have to admit that Ulf Samuelsson played the game as hard, and at times as dirty, as any NHL player. 1,080 games played and 2,453 penalty minutes shows that this guy made an impact (for better or worse) in the game.
#26. Leif Holmqvist – He is one of only three players to win the Golden Puck award twice in 1968 and 1970, which he did while playing for AIK. Named the best goaltender at the 1969 World Championship tournament. He was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1999.
#25. Mattias Ohlund – Ohlund represented Sweden in numerous tournaments, beginning with three World Junior Championships that included Best Defenceman honours as part of a silver medal effort in 1996, three World Championships, earning gold in 1998, and three Winter Olympics, earning gold in 2006. He had his greatest success with the Vancouver Canucks where he played 770 games putting up 325 of his 343 career NHL points.
#24. Bengt-Åke Gustafsson – Gustafsson played in five (1979, 1981, 1983, 1987 and 1991) World Championships with the Swedish national team. In both 1987 and 1991 he won the gold medal, got silver in 1981 and bronze in 1979. He also played in the Canada Cup in 1984 and 1987. 554 points in 629 career NHL games all withthe Washington Capitals.
#23. Fredrik Olausson – 581 points over 1,022 NHL games. Yet another solid defensemen out of Sweden.
#22. Thomas Gradin – one of the early great Swidish hockey players to play in the NHL. Gradin played nine seasons in the NHL (eight in Vancouver and one in Boston) where he put up 593 points in 677 games. He has played with Modo, AIK, and Västerås IK in the Swedish Elite League where he had 199 points in 215 games.
#21. Erik Karlsson – Karlsson is off to an explosive start for the San Jose Sharks this season. (10 goals and 21 points through his first 16 games). Over his career thus far he has put up 681 points in 854 games. He’s already won the Norris trophy twice (2012, 2015) but could but be looking to add a third if he keeps this season’s pace up. He’s won the Viking Award in 2012, 2016, and 2017.
#20. Victor Hedmen – Hedmen is still active with the Tampa Bay Lightning so he may move up this list in time. Drafted second overall in 2009, Hedmen has amassed 612 points in 910 games played (and counting). He has won the Stanley Cup twice and was named playoff MVP in 2020.
#19. Haken Loob – Loob started off his playing career in Sweden with Farjestads BK in 1979, would play all but six seasons of his professional career there. His NHL time was spent playing with the Calgary Flames where he put up 429 points in 450 career games. Loob had 501 points in 405 games in the Swedish Elite League.
#18. Bob Nystrom – drafted 33rd overall by the New York Islanders in 1972, Nystrom was a key component of the four Islanders Stanley Cups in the early 80s. Over 1,200 penalty minutes in 900 games played, Nystrom had 235 goals and 278 assists and was a well-rounded player for the New York Islanders.
#17. Thomas Steen – 817 points in 950 games all with the Winnipeg Jets.
#16. Ulf Dahlen – drafted 7th overall in the 1985 NHL draft by the New York Rangers, Dahlen played 14 seasons in the NHL putting up 655 points in 966 games.
#15. Mats Naslund – as a kid I always remember watching Hockey Night in Canada and when the Montreal Canadians score and Mats Naslund was in on the scoring hearing the public address announcer say Mats Naslooooond. Le Petit Viking as he was dubbed in Montreal, Naslund was a mere 5’7 but played like he was 6’2. As a rookie he put up 71 points in 74 games, and as a result he was elected to the All-Rookie team. He would end up with 634 points in 651 NHL games.
#14. Anders Andersson – Andersson played for Skellefteå AIK from 1956 to 1966 and Färjestads BK from 1966 to 1969. He is one of only three players to win the Golden Puck (Guldpucken) as Swedish Player of the Year twice, which he did in 1961 and 1962, and was appointed into the Swedish Hockey Hall of Fame in August 2012. He won Gold with Team Sweden at the World Championships in 1957 and in 1962.
#13. Nicklas Backstrom – still active in the NGL, Backstrom has put up 1,011 points in 1,058 games in his 15 seasons with the Washington Capitals.
#12. Anders Hedberg – what a left-winger this player was. He was one of the first European-born players to make an impact in North America. Hedberg played four seasons in the WHA where he put up a staggering 458 points in 286 games including 236 goals all for the Winnipeg Jets. As the WHA came to a close the NHL teams had their pick of the best WHA players and Hedberg was selected from the Jets by the New York Rangers. Hedberg would put up 397 points in 465 NHL games all with the Rangers.
#11. Kent Nilsson – nicknamed the “Magic Man” and for good reason. This guy had some silky mitts. Drafted 64th overall in the fourth round by the Atlanta Flames, Nilsson scored 686 points in only 553 career NHL games. He posted back-to-back 107 point seasons for the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA and had a 131 point season for the Calgary Flames in 1980-81.
#10. Markus Naslund – drafted 16th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Naslund would enjoy most of his success as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. 1,117 games played, 869 points, Markus Naslund would win the Ted Lindsey Award in 2002-03 a year in which he had a 48 and 104 point season for the Vancouver Canucks. For his native Sweden, Markus Naslund has competed with the Swedish national team in two European Junior Championships, two World Junior Championships, four World Championships, two World Cups and one Winter Olympics. Naslund holds the World Junior record for most goals scored in a single tournament, scoring 13 in 1993. More on Markus Naslund.
#9. Henrik Lundqvist – the highest ranking Swedish goaltender on our list, Henrik Lundqvist played nearly 900 games in the NHL (887) with the New York Rangers. Drafted in the seventh round, 205th overall by the Rangers in 2000, Lundqvist was a fan favourite from day one. His 887 games played rank him ninth all-time for goaltenders (as of 2022-23). Lundqvist was one of the top players of his generation and is one of the top goalies of all time. In 2004-05, Henrik Lundqvist established Swedish Hockey League records for lowest playoff goals-against average (1.05), highest save percentage (.962), most single-season shutouts (six) and longest shutout streak (172:29). With the Rangers, he won at least 30 games in each of his first 11 full NHL seasons. He made the NHL All-Rookie team in 2006, Olympic All-Star team in 2014 and played in five NHL All-Star games. His NHL career save percentage was an amazing .918 with a 2.43 GAA. Pretty tough to score on this guy when he was in his prime. More on Henrik Lundqvist.
#8. Henrik Zetterberg – 960 points in 1,082NHL games is not too shabby. Zetterberg was a plus 160 over his career. He was the Swedish Elite League Rookie of the Year (2001). After he entered the NHL, he captained the Detroit Red Wings over his last six seasons in the league and won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP in 2008. He is a member of the Triple Gold Club. Zetterberg also won the Viking Award in 2007 and 2008, awarded to the “Best Swede” playing in North America. He was part of Team Sweden’s Olympic Gold medal in 2006 and was a part of the Silver medal team from 2014. He has enjoyed a fair amount of success in the IIHF World Championships, winning a medal in four of the five years he appeared in the tournament. More on Henrik Zetterberg.
#7. Daniel Sedin – 1,306 games played, 393 goals, 1,041 points all with the Vancouver Canucks, Daniel Sedin seemed like a steal when Brian Burke drafted him second overall at the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. In 2010-11, Daniel put up 41 goals and 104 points and finished second in Hart trophy voting to his brother Henrik. Like his brother, his career stats are off the charts. Daniel won the Art Ross Trophy in 2010-11, as well as the Ted Lindsey Award. In 2017-18 he won the King Clancy Memorial Award. Daniel won Gols at the 2006 Winter Olympics (as did Henrik) and won Gold in the World Championships in 2013. Daniel, along with Henrik were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022. More on Daniel Sedin.
#6. Henrik Sedin – 1,330 games played, 830 assists, 1,070 career NHL points, when the Canucks drafted Henrik Sedin third overall (one spot behind his brother) in 1999, he may of just had something to prove. As more of a playmaker, Henrik set the standard for NHL players with League-high totals of 83, 75 and 67 assists, respectively, from 2009-12. Henrik won the Art Ross and Hart Memorial trophies in 2009-10 and also added the King Clancy Memorial trophy in 2015-16 and 2017-2018. He was a member of the NHL First All-Star team in 2010 and 2011. Henrik became the first Canucks player to reach 1,000 points in his NHL career on January 21, 2017. Upon retirement, Henrik was the Canucks’ all-time leading points scorer. Henrik, along with Daniel were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022. More on Henrik Sedin.
#5. Daniel Alfredsson – second all-time in scoring for Swedish-born NHL players, Daniel Alfredsson put up 444 goals and 1,157 points in 1,246 NHL games with Ottawa and Detroit. Arguably the best Ottawa Senator of all-time, Alfredsson put up 1,108 of his 1,157 points in a Senators uniform. He won the Calder as rookie of the year in 1994-95 and won the King Clancy Memorial Award in 2011-12 and the Mark Messier Leadership Award a year later. He won Gold at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turnin and Silver at the Games in 2014 in Sochi. He was part of silver medal Team Sweden teams at the World Championships in 1995 and 2004 and Bronze medalist in 1999 and 2001. His 1,178 games, 426 goals, 682 assists and 1,108 points, are all franchise records for the Ottawa Senators. More on Daniel Alfredsson.
#4. Peter Forsberg – Although his NHL career was cut short, Peter Forsberg has a career points per game of 1.25 (good for ninth all-time). He had 885 points in 708 NHL games. He was big, physical and could play the game European or North American styles. Drafted sixth overall by the Flyers in 1991, Forsberg was traded to the Quebec Nordiques in a package for Eric Lindros. Forsberg competed in four Winter Olympics, two World Cups and five World Championships, as well as one European Junior Championship and two World Junior Championships, where he holds a scoring record of 31 points in seven games. A Gretzky-like record that some say may never be broken. Forsberg also put up 171 points in 151 NHL playoff games. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 1995, won the Art Ross trophy and the Hart Trophy as League MVP in 2003 and won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001. He is one of only three players in history to win Sweden’s Golden Puck award as player of the year (1993, 1994). With his second Olympic Gold in 2006, he became the third player in history to have enough titles to be a member of the Triple Gold Club twice (Viacheslav Fetisov and Igor Larionov being the only others). Peter Forsberg was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014. More on Peter Forsberg.
#3. Mats Sundin – Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012, Mats Sundin amassed 1,349 points in 1,346 NHL games during his tenor with the Quebec Nordiques, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. Selected first overall in 1989 by the Quebec Nordiques, Sundin is currently the only Swedish-born player with 500 NHL goals. He was first European-born player to be selected number one in the NHL Entry Draft. After being traded to Toronto, for 12 of his 13 seasons with the Maple Leafs, Sundin led Toronto in scoring and would establish still-standing franchise records for goals (420) and points (987). Mats Sundin would finish his career as the highest scoring Swedish NHL player (1,349) and goals (564). He was the first Swedish-born player to reach 1,000 points in the NHL. He regularly donned the Tre-Konor jersey to play for his Native Sweden winning World Championships in 1991, 1992 and 1998. He continues to be a popular player with Leafs and Canucks fans to this day. More on Mats Sundin.
#2. Börje Salming – with a nickname like “King” you should be the top of any list right? Anders Börje Salming is simply one of the greatest NHL defensemen of all-time. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996, Salming was an undrafted player whom the Toronto Maple Leafs signed as a free agent in 1973. (The Leafs should forever be indebted to scout Gerry McNamera for this one). He played in 1,148 regular season games (1,099 of them with the Leafs), 81 playoff games and scored 150 goals and 637 assists in the NHL. Playing in a era with the Bashing Boston Bruins and the Broadstreet Bullies of Philadelphia, Salming had to deal with his share of cheap shots and the reputation that European players were “wimpy” and week. Salming’s toughness is legendary. In a game against the Detroit Red Wings his face was cut by Gerard Gallant’s skate resulting in over 200 stitches and cosmetic surgery. To say he wasn’t tough is inaccurate as the man also put up 1,344 penalty minutes. Loved by Leafs’ fans, Börje Salming is still one of the Toronto Maple Leafs most popular players. Börje Salming was an NHL pioneer and an NHL star period, end of story. His #21 is retired by the Toronto Maple Leafs. More on Börje Salming.
#1. Nicklas Lidstrom – the Swedish Bobby Orr? Lidstrom is one of the greatest defenseman of all-time. He played 1991-92 until 2011-12 with the Detroit Red Wings and is currently 14th on the NHL’s all-time games played list with 1,564 NHL games under his belt. It’s crazy to think that this guy was drafted with the Wings 11th round pick, 53rd overall in 1989. He amassed 1,142 regular season points. Did you know that nearly 52% of his points came on the Power Play? Nicklas Lidstrom won four Stanley Cups, won the Norris trophy as the NHL’s Top defenseman on seven occasions and was like be almost everyone whom he ever played with or against. Arguably one of t he best defensemen that the world has ever seen. When asked who his hero growing up was he replied with none other than Börje Salming. More on Nick Lidstrom.
Well that is quite a list. Did we miss anyone? Let’s us know and we look at updated a future version of our list.
More On Sweden’s Hockey History