The very first Norwegian participant in NHL historical past was the late Bjørn Skaare. Initially from the Norway capital of Oslo, Skaare was blessed with loads of pure expertise. In an period when there was nonetheless the (extremely) wrongful stereotype that Scandinavian gamers merely weren’t powerful sufficient to play within the league, Skaare had the talent to make his method over to Canada.
He would be part of the Ottawa 67’s for the 1977-78 OMJHL season (the precursor to at this time’s OHL). Enjoying a little bit greater than half the season’s video games, Skaare was higher than a point-per-game participant for the 67’s. He tallied 12 targets and 30 assists for 42 factors in 38 video games.
The Detroit Pink Wings promptly drafted Skaare within the fourth spherical with the 62nd choose of the 1978 NHL Entry Draft. This made him the primary Norwegian to be drafted into the league.
THW presents our rating of the Prime-5 Norwegians in NHL Historical past.
He would make his NHL debut on Nov. 29, 1978 when Detroit performed the Colorado Rockies on the street on the McNichols Sports activities Area. Although he would register a shot on aim within the 2-2 tie, Skaare’s sport would finish early after Rockies behemoth defenseman Barry Beck checked him arduous into the boards, injuring the rookie Norwegian within the course of.
This may be Skaare’s one and solely NHL sport. Regardless of that reality, he’ll all the time be the primary participant from his nation to play within the NHL.
Since that fateful sport, seven different Norwegian’s have suited up within the league. Two of them are presently NHLers, and with the success they’re producing it’s doubtless that extra of their fellow countrymen comply with of their footsteps.
We now have thought-about every participant intently, and have accomplished our greatest to rank them when it comes to their relevance and functionality. THW now presents for you the Prime-5 Norwegians in NHL Historical past:
#5 Andreas Martinsen
Like a couple of different gamers who made it to our listing, Andreas Martinsen was not drafted by an NHL staff. However arduous work and willpower usually have a method of paying off.
A local of Bærum, Norway, Martinsen is a really sizable ahead at 6-foot-Three and 220 kilos. After spending a variety of seasons in his nation’s GET-ligaen – the premier Norwegian ice hockey league – wherein he generated each offense and enormous quantities of penalty minutes, Martinsen secured a job as a checking-line ahead with Düsseldorfer EG in Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
He would have a breakout season with DEG in 2014-15 when he scored 18 targets and 23 assists for 41 factors in 50 video games, all of the whereas racking up 99 penalty minutes. Martinsen would additionally assist DEG attain the semi-final that very same season. His distinctive mix of physicality, measurement and scoring caught the eye of the Colorado Avalanche.
Andreas Martis(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
On Could 15, 2015, Martinsen signed a one-year, two-way entry-level contract to joins the Avs. Whereas he would begin the 2015-16 season with their AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage, Colorado finally referred to as him up so as to add toughness to their roster. Martinsen debuted within the NHL on Nov. 9, 2015 in a Four-Zero victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. He would end his rookie NHL season with 4 targets, seven assists, and 47 penalty minutes in 55 video games.
Shortly thereafter, Martinsen performed his fullest NHL season in 2016-17. As soon as extra showing in 55 video games for Colorado, he ended up being traded to the Montreal Canadiens on the Mar. 1 commerce deadline in alternate for Sven Andrighetto. Martinsen would finish the season having compiled three targets, 4 assists, and 32 penalty minutes in 64 video games between the 2 squads.
Close to the beginning of the 2017-18 season, he was traded as soon as once more – this time being shipped from the Canadiens to the Chicago Blackhawks. Following two straight seasons within the Chicago group spent primarily with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, Martinsen signed with the Anaheim Geese on Jul. 5 2019 on a one-year, two-way contract.
His willpower and energy by turning into an undrafted NHLer, and seemingly out of nowhere, are what get Martinsen onto our listing.
#Four Patrick Thoresen
What generally is a bit arduous to swallow relating to Patrick Thoresen’s case is that he has been having an outstanding skilled profession ever since he left the NHL. He’s a two-time winner of the KHL’s Gagarin Cup – as soon as with Salavat Yulaev Ufa and as soon as with SKA Saint Petersburg. Moreover, Thoresen is a two-time KHL All-Star, a Media All-Star in Switzerland for Lugano, and a Norwegian Participant of the Yr.
All of which was completed after his ultimate NHL season of 2007-08.
There’s doubtless one thing in genetics, as Thoresen’s father Petter performed in 5 Winter Olympics for the Norwegian Males’s Nationwide Staff. After initially taking part in in his homeland, the youthful Thoresen jumped to the QMJHL the place he performed for Moncton Wildcats (2001-02) and Baie-Comeau Drakkar (2002-03). Whereas with Drakkar, he scored 33 targets and 108 factors in 71 video games. Thoresen’s 75 assists had been probably the most within the QMJHL, and he gained the league’s Most Sportsmanlike Participant award that season too.
Fairly stunning to say that from right here Thoresen went undrafted.
In the end he signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers, and earned a spot on the 2006-07 roster after a formidable coaching camp. Thoresen scored 4 targets and 12 assists in 68 video games.
Staff Norway ahead Patrick Thoresen on the 2018 Olympic Winter Video games in PyeongChang (Obligatory Credit score Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports activities).
2007-08 would see him play 29 video games within the AHL with the Oilers’ affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. Thoresen would get into Edmonton’s lineup for 17 video games, scoring a aim and an help. Not capable of stay with the mother or father membership, he ended up being claimed off of waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 22, 2008.
Thoresen would assist the Flyers attain the Stanley Cup semi-finals, taking part in in 14 playoff video games and incomes a pair of assists. He grew to become the primary Norwegian in NHL historical past to play in a postseason sport. Thoresen returned to Europe the subsequent season, and has been having a really profitable profession ever since.
#Three Ole-Kristian Tollefsen
Ole-Kristian Tollefsen blew away any preconceived notion that Norwegian’s weren’t powerful. He was a solidly constructed defenseman at 6-foot-2 and 210 kilos, but additionally possessed a imply streak. Tollefsen hit arduous and hit usually, and wouldn’t hesitate to scrap both.
He performed two seasons as an adolescent in Norway for Lillehammer starting in 2000. There he skated alongside males twice his age. The 16-year-old Tollefsen should have caught the eyes of Columbus Blue Jackets’ scouts, as they might ultimately draft him within the third spherical of the 2002 NHL Draft.
Tollefsen was 18 years outdated at that time, after which came to visit to be taught the North American sport by taking part in Canadian junior hockey. He ended up taking part in two seasons with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.
Tollefsen made his skilled debut throughout 2004-05 for Columbus’ AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. He racked up 115 penalty minutes in 64 video games. He would up these numbers throughout 2005-06, when he reached 155 PIMs in 55 video games, whereas additionally making his NHL debut on Nov. 23, 2005 towards the Nashville Predators. He would play 5 video games for the Blue Jackets that season.
From this level ahead Tollefsen grew to become a everlasting NHL blueliner, starting with the 2006-07 season. He performed 70 video games for Columbus his rookie marketing campaign, and scored a pair of targets and three assists. Extra importantly to his function with the staff, Tollefsen compiled 123 PIMs.
Whereas not gifted offensively, he was simply the Blue Jackets’ most punishing participant and one of many hardest hitting gamers within the league. For groups that confronted Columbus, Tollefsen was the man that opposing gamers wanted to be careful for.
That being mentioned, it was his fearless fashion of play that led to accidents. Gamers who play the best way Tollefsen did, sadly, don’t usually have lengthy careers. In his remaining three NHL seasons after 2006-07 – two with Columbus and one with Philadelphia – he performed 51, 19 and 18 video games respectively.
After the 2009-10 season with the Flyers, he completed out his skilled profession in Sweden. Tollefsen earns the number-three spot on our listing for his tenacity and hard-hitting play.
#2 Espen Knutsen
Espen Knutsen was the very first Norwegian to attain a aim within the NHL, however there’s extra than simply that to position him at number-two on our listing. Although his profession within the league lasted solely elements of 5 seasons, he proved to be an above-average playmaker and one of many first fan favorites for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Knutsen was initially drafted by the Hartford Whalers within the 10th-round of the 1990 NHL Draft. Regardless of being chosen by an NHL membership, he opted to stay in Europe the place he performed for Vålerenga in his native Norway and for Djurgårdens IF in Sweden.
Twenty years in the past at this time, in a 1-1 tie towards Ottawa, Anaheim’s Espen Knutsen grew to become the primary Norwegian-born participant to attain an NHL aim 🇳🇴 pic.twitter.com/R9cXuFaAQS— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) October 10, 2017The Mighty Geese of Anaheim would purchase Knutsen’s rights from the Whalers on Oct. 1, 1996 in alternate for winger Kevin Brown. The flashy Norwegian would lastly make his NHL debut the next season on Oct. Three, 1997 when the Mighty Geese confronted the Vancouver Canucks. Knutsen would rating his first NHL aim seven days later when Anaheim confronted the Ottawa Senators. Changing into the primary Norwegian to attain an NHL aim is a mark within the hockey annals that’s ceaselessly his.
After an in any other case disappointing first season in North America (Knutsen scored three targets in simply 19 video games in 1997-98 as a Duck), he opted to return to Sweden as soon as extra.
NHL enlargement would give Knutsen a second probability, and he definitely capitalized on it. With the start of Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2000-01 season, the latter of the 2 would purchase the Norwegian’s rights from the Mighty Geese on Could 25, 2000. The Blue Jackets then had themselves a good looking mixture of Knutsen because the playmaker, and wingers Geoff Sanderson and Steve Heinze being those who potted dwelling the targets.
In Columbus’ inaugural season, Knutsen led the staff with 42 assists in simply 66 video games, and completed behind Sanderson in scoring with 53 factors. He adopted that up with 11 targets and 31 assists for 42 factors in 77 video games throughout 2001-02 – a efficiency that noticed him named to the World Staff (as an harm alternative) on the 2002 All-Star Sport. Knutsen is the primary – and to date, solely – Norwegian to play in an NHL All-Star Sport.
Accidents closely maligned him for each the 2002-03 and 2003-04 Blue Jackets’ seasons, and he would ultimately end his skilled profession again in Europe. Nonetheless, in 207 common season video games Knutsen scored 30 targets, 81 assists and 111 factors. His 42 assists in a season are second-most amongst Norwegians.
#1 Mats Zuccarello
It ought to be no actual shock that Mats Zuccarello is on the prime of our listing. He has performed extra video games and scored extra targets, assists and factors than some other participant from his nation. Momentarily ignore the truth that he’s Norwegian, and Zuccarello is among the higher offensive abilities within the NHL at this time, interval.
Having gone undrafted, the diminutive winger initially garnered discover after two productive seasons for MODO Hockey within the SHL (Sweden’s Svenska hockeyligan). Zuccarello scored higher than some extent per sport tempo in each the 2008-09 and 2009-10 SHL seasons.
Mats Zuccarello performed elements of 9 seasons with the New York Rangers starting in 2010-11. (Adam Starvation-USA TODAY Sports activities)
On Could 26, 2010 he signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent on a two-year, entry-level contract. Zuccarello wouldn’t have the smoothest transition to the NHL, and was up and down from the AHL and the mother or father membership “Blueshirts” throughout these first two seasons.
After a short stick with the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk through the lockout shortened 2012-13 NHL season, he returned again to the Rangers on Mar. 28, 2013. Since that point he has remained as a mainstay within the league, and a darn proficient one at that.
Within the 2013-14 season, Zuccarello grew to become the primary Norwegian to play within the Stanley Cup Last. Starting with that very same season, he has scored double digits in targets for six consecutive campaigns. Zuccarello set present profession highs in 2015-16 for targets (26) and factors (61) in 81 video games for the Rangers. He would set his profession excessive for assists within the very subsequent season when amassed 44 of them in 80 video games.
After a short stick with the Dallas Stars, Mats Zuccarello signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Minnesota Wild (Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports activities).
Zuccarello’s manufacturing is not going to cease right here both. Following a commerce to the Dallas in 2018-19 which noticed him play all of two video games with the Stars earlier than harm, he signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on July 1, 2019. Even within the pair of video games that Zuccarello performed within the Lone Star State, he nonetheless generated a aim and two assists.
Enjoying no less than 5 extra seasons within the NHL ought to see him doubtless eclipse the 200-goal mark and the 500-point plateau fairly simply. By way of Zuccarello’s first 9 NHL seasons between the Rangers and Stars mixed, he has compiled 114 targets, 241 assists and 355 factors in 511 common season video games.