NHL

Top 5 Scandinavian NHL players

When it comes to naming the best NHL players of all-time most probably, we think of magicians like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Wayne Gretzky. The latter is widely regarded as the best hockey player of all time. 

However, Nordic countries are also famous for their players. Even though they might not be on the same level as 3 players mentioned above, the provided effort and role for their teams is huge. In this article, we will talk about the current Top 5 Scandinavian NHL players.

Mats Zuccarello

Zuccarello is currently the best Norwegian player in the NHL. On May 26, 2010, Mats entered into a two-year agreement with the New York Rangers. Zuccarello started the 2010/11 season as part of the Connecticut Whale, but he was called up to New York on December 22 after the club’s main striker Marian Gaborik was injured. 

The next day, in a match against Tampa Bay Lightning, Mats made his debut in the NHL, becoming the seventh Norwegian player in league history. Zuccarello spent almost 18 minutes on the court. 5 days later, in a game with the New York Islanders, Mats scored his first point in the NHL with an assist, and on January 5, 2011, he scored his first goal in the league, bringing victory to his team over Carolina Hurricanes.

Zuccarello is also a very popular figure in his homeland. Norwegians currently do not have many famous hockey players in the NHL, so Mats is their most prominent representative in the NHL. For this reason, he has become a role model for a lot of Norwegian citizens. Youngsters started watching and playing hockey only for Zuccarello. His deeds have not gone unnoticed in the Norwegian online casinos as wells, where the notable operators in the gambling industry started offering bonuses, known as oddsbonus among local citizens, on Zuccarello. In general, it is considered to be one of the most effective marketing strategies to attract more players and raise the popularity of a particular player too.

Currently, Mats is playing for the Minnesota Wild, but the season is suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is one of the best Swedish NHL players, serving as an alternate captain for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In December 2011, Tampa Bay Lightning renewed Hedman’s contract for 5 years until the end of the 2016/2017 season. The deal amounted to $20 million.

At the time of the lockout, he signed a contract with Kazakhstan’s Barys. In Astana, Hedman immediately became a favourite of the public. His brilliant game did not go unnoticed. He became the quarterback of the month in November.

In the summer of 2016, he extended the contract with Tampa for 8 years by $63 million, starting from the 2017/18 season.

In the 2017/18 season, Victor set a personal goal record (17) and helped Tampa win the Eastern Conference following the regular season. The defender again entered the top three finalists in the vote for the Norris Trophy and this time deservedly received an individual award, ahead of the vote by 221 points Drew Doughty.

Aleksander Barkov

The son of Soviet and Russian hockey player Alexander Barkov, and in addition to Finnish, has Russian citizenship.

Barkov made his professional debut in the SM League on October 1, 2011, at the age of 16 years and 1 month. Having given an assist, he became the youngest player to score points in the league.

On October 3, 2013, he scored a goal against his compatriot Kari Lehtonen from the Dallas Stars club. Barkov at that time was 18 years old and 31 days old, and he was only one day ahead of the previous achievement of Canadian Jordan Staal, established in 2006.

On January 26, 2016, the Panthers extended the contract with the player for 6 years until the end of the 2021/22 season of $35.4 million.

As part of the Finnish national team, he won the bronze medals of the Olympic Games in Sochi.

Erik Karlsson

Before the 2008 NHL draft, Karlsson was selected as fourth among European players by the NHL Central Scouting Team. As a result, the draft, which took place in Ottawa, was selected in the 1st round under the general 15th number by the local team. 

In 2011, Karlsson, who scored 25 points in 41 games and was invited to the NHL All-Star Game.

On December 16, 2011, in a match against Pittsburgh Penguins, he made three assists and earned his 100th point in the NHL (in 168 matches).

He became the leader of the fans’ vote at the NHL All-Star Game 2012, gaining 939,951 votes.

According to the results of the 2014/15 season, he received his second James Norris Trophy.

On September 13, 2018, he was traded to the San Jose Sharks for 4 players, 2 draft picks in 2019 and 2020, as well as 2 more conditional draft picks.

Nicklas Backstrom

After his successful appearances, Backstrom was selected by the Washington Capitals NHL club in the 2006 NHL Draft. 

On May 21, 2007, Niklas Backstrom signed a three-year contract with Washington Capitals to begin playing for the team in the 2007–08 season. Playing in tandem with Alexander Ovechkin, Backstrom helped the Russian get the first individual prizes for the 2007-08 season. They began to be considered one of the best-attacking duets in the NHL. Backstrom finished his debut season with 69 points (14 goals, 55 assists). The forward was also nominated for a prize for the best NHL rookie – Calder Trophy – and lost first place to only Patrick Kane of Chicago Blackhawks.

For his second season in the NHL, Backstrom earned 88 points by making 66 assists and scoring 22 goals and was among the top ten league scorers of the 2008-09 season. In the playoff games, he scored 15 points in 14 games. After the playoffs of the 2008–09 season, Backstrom was awarded the Viking Award as the best Swedish hockey player in the NHL. He became the second Swede in the history of the Washington Capitals club after Calle Johansson, who received this award.

In May 2010, he signed with Washington Capitals a new 10-year contract worth $67 million.

In January 2016, the Swede was included in the team for the NHL All-Star Game.

On January 14, 2020, he extended the contract with Washington for 5 years, for which he will receive $46 million.

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