by Dan Adkisson
Even the most devout Euro league fan can probably admit that the continent doesn’t attract the same buzz and hype of the NHL. But this doesn’t mean that European hockey hasn’t given the NHL a huge helping hand over the years.
In this article, we examine the evolution of the top European talent to have headed across the pond for a crack at the NHL. Our evaluations of the best European NHL players will help you get the best of hockey sportsbooks. You can find more about NHL odds here.
Peter Forsberg originally made his breakthrough with Modo Hockey in his homeland of Sweden. He spent five years with Modo before eventually making his NHL bow in 1995 – by that point he’d already proven his talents as part of a World Championship and Olympic Gold winning team.
His transition into the NHL was a smooth one with fans and pundits quickly moving to wax lyrical about his performances as a rookie. Those good performances continued throughout his career with his ability to see and pick passes around the ice second to none.
As for backing it up with honours, Forsberg’s trophy cabinet doesn’t disappoint. In addition to those top level medals he won with Sweden, he also won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche.
Dominik Hasek is the only goalkeeper to make our list of the best European players to have played in the NHL but he’s fully deserving of his place here.
Hasek played for Dynamo Pardubice and Dukla Jihlava in Europe before he went to the NHL where he played for four different sides. He enjoyed a lot of success too, as he set records, won individual honours and won team awards.
After all that, he then called time on his NHL career and returned to Europe to see out his career with Spartak Moscow.
We turn our attention to another Swede now in the shape of Nick Lidstrom. He cannot boast the same sort of stats as some of the players named on this list, but his presence on the ice cannot be doubted owing to his outstanding defensive and leadership qualities.
The defenceman actually only played for two clubs throughout his career. He first played for Vasteras IK based in Sweden. Three years later he moved to the NHL where he joined the Detroit Red Wings and that was Lidstrom set.
With the Red Wings, Lidstrom enjoyed great success both on a team and individual front. The Red Wings brought four Stanley Cups to Detroit whilst Lidstrom scooped countless awards and posted even more franchise firsts and records.
Next up in our look at the best Europeans to have moved to the NHL is Teemu Selänne. He first took to the ice for Jokerit in Finland but, after that, he went to the NHL.
Almost immediately he set about tearing the league up as he reached record-breaking stats for a rookie. That year also saw him scoop the Rookie of the Year award.
Not to be a flash in the pan, Selanne continued to boss things in the NHL winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 and making the All-Star team on 10 occasions.
Alexander Ovechkin was born in Moscow, Russia and started his hockey career in the city of his birth as he spent three years playing for Dynamo Moscow. When the winger opted to leave Europe for the NHL; he joined the Washington Capitals. He instantly endeared himself to the locals as well as he put up 106 goal contributions in his rookie season on route to winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Ovechkin wouldn’t make our list for one good season in the NHL though and his goal scoring continued at such an alarming rate that he became a go to man in the world of player prop sports betting. He has led the NHL scoring charts nine times, which has seen him scoop the Rocket Richard award more times than any other player.
On top of being a pure goal getter his current position as captain of the Capitals serves as proof that he’s very much about the team, whilst his three MVP awards during his NHL career shows he has plenty about him.
Right, here we are at the number one spot, and, in truth, it was an easy decision – Jaromír Jagr is unquestionably the best player to have transitioned from Europe to the NHL.
He started his hockey life out with Czech team Rytíři Kladno but very quickly moved to the NHL where he became the youngest player in the league.
His longevity saw him rack up insane numbers too and he is second to only the legendary Wayne Gretzky for points scored. Argue with that! Oh yeah, you can’t!
There you have it, a look at the best European’s to have played in the NHL.