We recently compiled our list of the Top 50 Swedish Hockey Players of All-Time and next up are their neighbours in Finland. The Finns love ice hockey. Did you know that Finland is second in the world for percentage of the population playing hockey. Finland has the highest percentage out of any country outside of North America for active participants in the game of ice hockey.
Based on data from Statista, Finland has 289 indoor hockey rinks (sixth most in the world) and 84 outdoor rinks. With a population of about 5.5 million, Finland has one of the largest players per capita (roughly one per 150). With so many hockey players in Finland, the country has one of the lowest rinks per capita at one rink per 121 players.
On the men’s side of things, Finland is part of the “Big Six” and has delivered one of the most successful international hokey programs in the world. Finland won the World Championship in 2002 and won gold at the 2022 Olympics as well. It is safe to say that Finland has produced some great hockey players over the years. Currently around 5.2% of active NHLers are from Finland. That translates to about 49 active Finish players in the National Hockey League.
Top 50 Finnish NHL Players of All-Time
Here is a look that the top fifty NHL players hailing from the country of Finland. While Finland has been a known goalie factor in recent years, there have been some great players to come out of Finland over the years. Here is a look at The Hockey Fanatic’s top 50 Finnish hockey players of all-time (2023 edition).
#50. Esa Lindell – one of the current Finnish NHLers on our list. From Helsinki, Finland, Lindell has already played nearly 500 games in the NHL all for the Dallas Stars and is a +84 over the course of his career. This 6’3” defenseman doesn’t put up a lot of points (156 in his career thus far) but is a steady presence on the Stars blueline.
#49. Joonas Korpisalo – the first Finnish tendy on our list, Joonas Korpisalo was drafted 62nd overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012. He’s played in 202 career NHL games 9and counting) and has a career save percentage of .903. In nine playoff games he has a post season save percentage of a staggering 0.941.
#48. Jarkko Ruutu – possibly the toughest (or dirtiest) Finnish hockey player to play in the NHL. Ruutu plated 652 games in the NHL and put up 1,078 penalty minutes which is one more than Esa Tikkanen for most by a Finnish-born NHL player. For the record he played this way in his native Finland as well as he had 215 penalty minutes in 50 games in the 2004-05 (lockout season) while playing for HIFK Finland. Jarkko Rutuu had 1,072 penalty minutes during his time in the Liiga league in Finland. The Finnish equivalent of Dave “Tiger” Williams perhaps?
#47. Sami Vatanen – the second defensemen on our list thus far. Vatanen played 473 games in the NHL putting up 200 points with Anaheim, New Jersey and Dallas.
#46. Pekka Rautakallio – while he only played 235 games in the NHL, Rautakallio put up 154 points good for a 0.655 points-per-game percentage, 17th best all-time amongst Finnish-born NHL players.
#45. Lauri Korpikoski – hailing from Turku, Finland, Korpikoski played 609 NHL games and put up 201 points.
#44. Antti Miettinen – possibly one of the best players ever to come out of Hämeenlinna, Finland, Miettinen put up 230 points in 539 NHL games. He was drafted by who else, the Dallas Stars 224th overall in the 200 NHL Entry Draft, and surprise played with two other teams that have shown love for Finish hockey players, the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets.
#43. Toni Lyndman – 847 games played in the NHL where he put up 242 points and added 551 penalty minutes.
#42. Joni Pitkänen – another great Finnish player our of Oulu, Finland, Pitkänen played parts of nine seasons in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes. In 535 games, Joni Pitkänen put up 282 points.
#41. Rasmus Ristolainen – drafted 8th overall by Buffalo in 2013, Rasmus Ristolainen has already played 649 MHL games and counting. He’s already put up 266 points as an NHL defenseman.
#40. Niklas Bäckström – Backstrom backstopped the Minnesota Wild for most of his 413 NHL regular season games where he had a career 2.49 G.A.A. and a 0.914 save percentage. His final season was with the Calgary Flames before he headed back to Finland to play three more seasons.
#39. Juuse Saros – The Nashville Predators have a thing for Finnish goaltenders. Saros has already shown that he has all-star potential as he is he heir apparent to fellow Finn Pekka Rinne in Nashville. Through nearly 260 NHL games Saros has a 0.920 save percentage.
#38. Kari Lehtonen – born in Helsinki, Finland, Lehtonen was a pioneer of the big Finnish goaltenders. Drafted second overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Lehtonen played in 649 NHL regular season games. Lehtonen was lights out in Jokerit where in three seasons he posted GAAs of 1.90, 1.79 and 1.98 and remarkable save percentages of 0.937, 0.941 and 0.928.
Lehtonen played his final nine seasons with the Dallas Stars. Kari Lehtonen stats.
#37. Mikko Mäkelä – what did we tell you about the great names Finnish players have? Hailing from Tampere, Finland, Mikko Mäkelä played 483 games in the NHL where he put up 276 points.
#36. Erik Haula – another current NHLer, Haula has put up 261 points in 580 NHL games (and counting).
#35. Niklas Hagman – from Espoo, Finland, Hagman played in 770 NHL regular season games putting up 301 points with Florida, Dallas, Toronto, Calgary and Anaheim.
#34. Tuomo Ruutu – played 13 NHL season and amasses 346 points in 735 regular season games with Chicago, Carolina and New Jersey.
#33. Roope Hintz -another player form Tampere, and another Finnish player in the Dallas Stars organization. In just four and a half seasons, Hintz has put up 215 points in 280 NHL regular season games. That amounts to eight best points-per-game percentage of all-time Finnish-born NHLers. Still, lots of time for Roope to put up even more staggering numbers.
#32. Janne Niinimaa – at the time of this writing, Janne Niinimaa is the fifth-highest assist leader of Finnish-born defenseman to ever have played in the NHL.
#31. Miro Heiskanen – Dallas Stars sure like defensemen from Finland. Another active NHLer, Heiskanen is only 23 and has played over 320 games putting up 170 points. A bit more offense than his Dallas counterpart Esa Lindell, Heiskanen was drafted third overall by Dallas in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and has still to reach his prime.
#30. Antti Niemi – With 464 NHL regular season games under his belt, Antti Niemi played the fifth most NHL games as a goalie from Finland playing with Chicago, San Jose, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Florida and Montreal. He posted a career save percentage of 0.912.
#29. Teuvo Teräväinen – another great player out of Helsinki. Drafted 18th overall by Chicago in the 2012 Entry Draft, Teräväinen has put up nearly 400 points in 563 NHL games (and counting).
#28. Sami Salo – Salo’s 878 games rank fourth all-time for Finish-born deemen. His 339 points with Ottawa, Vancouver and Tampa Bay rank fourth for Finnish NHL defensemen.
#27. Ilkka Sinisalo – one of our favourite hockey player names of all-time, Ilkka Sinisalo played 11 seasons in the NHL playing in 582 regular season games and putting up 427 points with the Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars and Los Angeles Kings.
#26. Sami Kapanen – his 831 games rank 15th all-time for Finnish born players in the NHL. Kapanen put up 458 points in 831 games with Hartford, Carolina and Philadelphia.
#25. Mikael Granlund – another great Finnish player from Oulu, Finland, at the time of this writing, Granlund has put up 470 points in 717 NHL games with the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators. His point totals are currently 13th all-time for Finnish-born NHL players.
#24. Petri Skriko – with 405 points in 541 NHL games, Petri Skriko is ninth all-time in points-per-game average for Finnish born NHLers. Most of Skriko’s NHL tenure was with the Vancouver Canucks from 1984-1991 where he enjoyed 78 and 74 point seasons in 1985-86 and 1986-87.
#23. Valtteri Flippula – playing most of his NHL career with Detroit and Tampa Bay, Valtteri Flippula is currently 11th all-time in points by Finnish-born NHL players with 530 points in 1,030 games.
#22. Patrick Laine – drafted second overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft Patrick Laine is number six on the all-time points-per-game list at 0.81. He has 355 points in 439 games and should hit around 800-900 points when his NHL career wraps up.
#21. Christian Ruuttu – 621 NHL regular season games, 432 points and 714 penalty minutes.
#20. Reijo Ruotsalainen – 344 points in 446 NHL regular season games Ruotsalainen’s best season was in 1984-85 with the New York Rangers where he put up 73 points including 28 goals. He ranks fourth in goals for Finland-born NHL defenseman. He won two Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers in 1987 and 1990.
#19. Tukka Rask – Finnish players have great names don’t them? Case in point, Tukka Rask who played in 564 NHL games. Rask finished with 308 wins and 52 shutouts in his 564 regular season games. He added 57 playoff wins in 104 Stanley Cup playoff games and won the Cup with the Bruins in 2011.
#18. Matti Hagman – was the first Finnish-born hockey player to play in the NHL when he played 75 games with the Boston Bruins in the 1976-77 season. While playing in Finland in Liiga, Hagman amassed 750 points in 513 games. In the NHL he put up 145 points in 237 regular season games. 112 of those in his two seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. Hagman was the first Finn to ever play in a Stanley Cup finals game.
#17. Risto Siltanen – Born in Mänttä, Finland on Halloween. ‘Little Hulk’ as he was known, Risto Siltanen ranks fourth for Finnish-born defenseman in points when he put up 355 points in 562 games with the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers and Quebec Nordiques.
#16. Sebastian Aho – drafted 35th overall in 2015 by the Carolina Hurricanes, Sebastian Aho has already become one of the greatest Finnish players to have ever played in the NHL. To this stage in his career, Aho has put up 441 points in just 484 regular season games played. He’s nearly a point per game player in the playoffs, Aho has at least another ten years left so there is a lot of time to add to his stats.
#15. Jere Lehtinen – 514 points in 875 games, all with the Dallas Stars. Dallas definitely like their Finnish hockey players as they’ve had a number of good ones in recent years. Lehtinen was know as a defensively responsible forward as his +176 plus/minus will attest to.
#14. Mikka Kiprusoff – Kipper played in the third most NHL games for all Finnish goaltenders with 623 regular season games played. During this time, he won 319 games and had a career GAA of 2.49. Kipper also posted a 0.921 post season save percentage over his 56 NHL playoffs games.
#13. Jussi Jokinen – 563 points in 951 NHL regular season games is good enough for tenth all-time for Finnish born NHL players.
#12. Mikko Rantanen – after Barkov from Florida, Mikko Rantanen is probably the best hockey player from Finland playing in the NHL today. He has elite skills with the puck and is a great skater. He has already put up 466 points in 453 NHL games (and counting) with the Colorado Avalanche and won the Stanley Cup in 2022 with the team. He has 77 career playoff points in 63 games with the Avs. Rantanen could easily become one of the top ten best Finnish players the NHL has ever seen. More on Mikko Rantanen.
#11. Jyrki Lumme – 985 games played with 468 points, Lumme played in the NHL from 1988 until 2003 having played with the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes, Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs. As a defenseman he was a +76 over his NHL career and enjoyed his best seasons as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.
Internationally, Lumme would represent Finland in the Olympics three times and would participate in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. He would win a Silver Medal in the 1988 Games and a Bronze in 1998.
Top 10 Finnish NHL Players Based on Points-per-Game %
Before we look at our top 10 Finnish hockey players, here are the top ten Finnish-born players of all-time based on Points-per-Game.
Top 10 NHL Players from Finland
#10. Esa Tikkanen – one of the NHL’s best superpests, ‘Tik’ was a key component of those Edmonton Oilers dynasty teams of the 80’s. Drafted 80th overall by the oilers in 1983, Tikkanen played in 877 regular season games where he put up 630 points and nearly 1,100 penalty minutes. He played another 182 playoff games putting up 132 points including 72 goals and another 275 penalty minutes.
#9. Kimmo Timonen – Timonen played in 1,108 games in the NHL second most amongst Finnish-born defensemen where he put up 654 points.
#8. Pekka Rinne – Born in Kempele, Finland, Pekka Rinne played in 683 games and is the only Finnish goaltender to have ever scored a goal in an NHL game. Over the course of his career Rinne had one goal and fourteen assists as a goalie. He had 60 shutouts in his 683 regular season games with a career Goals Against Average of 2.43 and a 0.917 save percentage.
Rinne played his entire NHL career as a member of the Nashville Predators after being drafted by the team 258th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. In 2011-12, Rinne played 73 games for the Preds winning 43 games and posting a sick 0.923 save percentage. Pekka Rinne played in three NHL all-star games and won over 400 games in the NHL. More on Pekka Rinne.
#7. Mikko Koivu – 711 points in 1,035 NHL regular season games with the Minnesota Wild. (Koivu did play seven games with the Columbus Blue jackets where he had a goal and assist). Koivu won medals in various tournaments as a member of Team Finland. Including Gold at the IIHF U18 World Championships in 2000 and Gold as a member of Team Finland at the 2011 IIHF World Championships.
#6. Olli Jokinen – drafted third overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Jokinen is fourth in all-time points by Finnish-born players in the NHL and his 1,231 games played also rank fourth.
#5. Saku Koivu – Koivu is third all-time in points for Finnish-born players in the NHL. Saku Koivu put up 832 points in 1,124 NHL regular season games with Montreal and Anaheim. Koivu’s best season in the NHL was in 2006-07 when he put up 75 points in 81 games. Koivu won the NHL’s Bill Masterton Trophy in 2002 and the King Clancy memorial Award in 2007.
#4. Aleksander Barkov – haling out of Tampere, Finland Aleks Barkov is one of the NHL’s brightest starts today. Drafted 2nd overall by the Florida Panthers in 2013, Barkov has played in 635 games and counting and has amassed nearly 600 points. In 2018-19 Barkov had a career best 96 points. In 2021-22, Barkov scored a career high 39 goals in 67 games. If he keeps on his current pace, Barkov should end up as one of the highest point-producing Finnish players of all-time.
#3. Teppo Numminen – our highest ranking defenseman from Finland is Teppo Numminen who has played the third most NHL regular season games for Finnish players. In 1,372 regular season games Numminen had 117 goals, 520 assists for 637 points. Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets 29th overall in 1986, Numminen’s best years were with the original Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotes. At the time of his retirement, Numminen held the record of playing in 1,372 NHL games, the most by a European-born, which stood until broken by Nicklas Lidström in the 2009–10 season.
Teppo Numminen has been ranked as one of the top Winnipeg Jets of all-time. He represented the Finnish men’s national team on a number of occasions and won two silver medals in 1988 and 2006, and one bronze medal in 1998 Winter Olympics. Teppo Numminen stats.
Teemu Selänne – Drafted 10th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, Teemu Selänne is the highest scoring Finnish NHLer of all-time. He had 1,457 points, including 684 goals in 1,451 NHL regular season games. Most notable for the 76 goals Selänne scored in his rookie season as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, the “Finnish Flash” scored 48 goals at the age of 36 playing for Anaheim and scored 31 goals as a 40-year old a couple of years later while still with the Ducks. Selänne finally won a Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks. Like many of the top Finns, Selänne was a star in Finland playing for Jokerit in the I-divisioona and SM-Liiga leagues where he had 120 points in 86 games prior to joining the Jets in the NHL in 1992.
Teemu Selänne was not just a popular player in Finland, but he was popular in every NHL market whether on the home team or as a visitor. Selänne also made his mark in International hockey. At the time of his retirement, he retired as the leading scorer (24 goals and 19 assists in 37 games) in Olympic hockey. In 2017 Selänne was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history. Teemu Selänne was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 becoming only the second Finnish-born player ever (the first was Jari Kurri) to be inducted. He was the first Anaheim Ducks player to have his #8 jersey retired in 2015. One of the greatest Finnish hockey players ever was Teemu Selanne. More on Teemu Selanne.
#1. Jari Kurri – someone had to finish off all of those passes that Wayne Gretzky made. For eight seasons, alongside Gretzky in Edmonton that man was Jari Kurri. Kurri joined the NHL in 1980-81 as a member of the Edmonton Oilers where he amassed 75 points (including 32 goals) in 75 games as a rookie. Kurri was part of the ‘Flying Finns” as they were dubbed in Edmonton. There were only six Finnish born players in the NHL in 1980-81. Three of them were on the Oilers as Matti Hagman and Risto Siltanen were teammates. Kurri amassed 601 goals and 1,398 points in 1,251 NHL games. His best season was in 1984-85 where he scored 71 goals and 135 points. His 71 goals were second only to Gretzky’s 73 goals but in seven less games.
Kurri played ten seasons in Edmonton winning the Stanley Cup on five occasions. He also played five seasons in Los Angeles a half season with the New York Rangers and a season with the Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche to finish his NHL career. Jari Kurri is third all-time in NHL playoff goals (106) and points with 233 in 200 games (behind Gretzky 382 points and Mark Messier 295 points). His 19 goals in the 1984-85 playoffs are still a record that he holds with Reggie Leach. He had a 28.8% shooting percentage in the 1986-87 Stanley Cup playoffs when he scored 15 goals in 21 games. Kurri played in nine NHL all-star games and had his #17 jersey retired by the Oilers in 2001. Jari had exceptional puck sense, a great shot and could play the game anyway it needed to be played.
The greatest all-time hockey player from Finland is Jari Kurri. Not bad for a player drafted 69th overall by the Oilers in 1980. Jari Kurri was ranked as one of the 100 best NHL players of all time during the NHL’s centennial celebration. More on Jari Kurri.
Quite a list. It is see why the Finns are one of the World’s hockey powers. What is great is that their women’s program is coming a long way as well. This Scandinavian country continues to produce elite hockey talent. Whether it is stellar goaltenders, hard-playing defensemen or high scoring forwards, the “Flying Finns” are a hockey force to be reckoned with.