This week, the Detroit Red Wings will suit up for two NHL contests in Sweden, marking the first time the franchise has played regular season games outside of North America.
It will be a bit of a homecoming for the Red Wings. Dozens of Swedish players have skated for the franchise, with Lucas Raymond being the sole Swede on the roster currently. The impact of these players range from dressing for a couple games to being all-time greats.
Here’s a countdown of the top five Swedish Red Wings in franchise history.
5. Johan Franzen
Also known as “The Mule,” Johan Franzen was a versatile forward who could score goals in bunches and play a responsible defensive game. He arrived in Hockeytown for the 2005-06 campaign and ended up playing in parts of 11 seasons for the Red Wings. Franzen totalled 187 goals and 370 points in 602 NHL games.
He frequently came up clutch in the playoffs, earning the reputation as a big-game player. There, he accumulated 42 goals in 107 postseason games. Impressively, Franzen’s 0.39 goals per game in the playoffs ranks higher than Steve Yzerman (0.36) and Sergei Fedorov (0.31).
Franzen could be downright dominant at times – the 2008 second-round matchup against the Colorado Avalanche comes to mind. That said, you have to wonder how he would have fared under a different coach than Mike Babcock, who verbally attacked Franzen on several occasions.
Still, Franzen was a valued member of the Red Wings and ranks 23rd in total points with the franchise – sandwiched in between Igor Larionov and Marcel Dionne.
4. Niklas Kronwall
Known for his bone-crushing hits, Niklas Kronwall was a highly underrated blueliner during his tenure with the Red Wings. Often overshadowed by Nicklas Lidstrom, Kronwall’s two-way game befitted that of a top-pairing defenseman.
Like Franzen, Kronwall was a key cog in Detroit’s 2008 Stanley Cup team and played an even bigger role during Detroit’s run to the 2009 Stanley Cup Final with Lidstrom battling injuries.
Latest News & Highlight
Overall, Kronwall suited up for 953 games across 15 seasons. He recorded 432 regular season points and another 47 in 109 playoff games. Among Red Wings blueliners, Kronwall ranks fourth in points and third in games played.
3. Tomas Holmstrom
A four-time Stanley Cup winner, Tomas Holmstrom was a fan favorite during his time in Detroit. He was one of the best net-front presences of all-time and took a beating on a nightly basis. Holmstrom’s style of play allowed the Red Wings to ice a dangerous power play – his 122 career goals with the man advantage only trails Yzerman, Lidstrom, and Gordie Howe for most power play goals scored in franchise history.
In all, Holmstrom racked up 243 goals and 530 points in 1,026 regular season games. He scored one more power play goal than he did at even strength (121) in his career – a rare occurrence in the NHL.
Holmstrom also tallied 46 goals and 97 points in 180 playoff games. Only Yzerman, Lidstrom, and Kris Draper have played more playoff games as a Red Wing than Holmstrom.
2. Henrik Zetterberg
A true leader, Henrik Zetterberg captained the Red Wings for six seasons. His work ethic and commitment to the game made him a respected player around the league and a crucial part of Detroit’s success. In addition, his incredible two-way play and leadership qualities helped carry on the legacy that was first established by Yzerman and then Lidstrom, and now is exemplified by current captain Dylan Larkin.
Surprisingly, the only regular season hardware won by Zetterberg was the 2014-15 King Clancy Trophy. He finished second in Calder Trophy voting in 2003 and frequently received Selke Trophy votes.
Though he lost out on these awards, Zetterberg accomplished greater feats. He’s a member of the Triple Gold club, having won the Stanley Cup, a World Championship, and an Olympic gold medal. He also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2008.
Overall, “Hank” recorded 960 points with the Red Wings, placing him fifth all-time. His 1,082 games are the sixth-most played in franchise history. His No. 40 could be the next to be retired by the organization.
1. Nicklas Lidstrom
Not only was Lidstrom a franchise great, he was also one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. He revolutionized the position and proved that puck possession and perfect positioning could be an effective way to patrol the blue line in the NHL.
“The Perfect Human” captained the Red Wings for six seasons, taking over for Yzerman when he retired in 2006. He led Detroit to the 2008 Stanley Cup – his fourth as a Red Wing. Lidstrom also brought home the 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy.
Like Zetterberg, he’s a member of the Triple Gold club. He was an alternate captain for Sweden’s 2006 gold medal victory – a team that also featured Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Kronwall, and Mikael Samuelsson.
Related: A Tribute to Nicklas Lidstrom
Lidstrom sits fourth in regular season points as a Red Wing (1,142) and second for games played (1,564). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015 and was a seven-time Norris Trophy winner. Lidstrom’s No. 5 has also been retired by the Red Wings.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.