The Detroit Red Wings History of Swedish Players
The Detroit Red Wings are known nowadays for all of their Swedish players. But drafting and signing Swedes isn’t new to the organization. Since 1981, the Red Wings have drafted 48 Swedish born players, 11 of which have made it to the NHL (only 10 with Detroit). They have also signed 9 Swedish free agents since 1972. 4 of those free agent signing have helped the team win the Stanley Cup.
The first Swede to ever play for the Red Wings was defenseman Thommie Bergman . He played parts of six NHL seasons between 1972 and 1980, appearing in a total of 246 games with the Red Wings.
The next season a Swedish left Winger named Tord Lundstrom ,played 11 games for Detroit.
Left Winger Dan Labraaten was signed in 1978 and spent the next three seasons with the Wings. He scored 52 goals and had 54 assists for 106 points in 198 games before being traded to Calgary in 1981.
Nordmark stayed in the SEL and was re-drafted in 1987 by the St. Louis Blues. He played 67 games for St. Louis in 1987-88. He played 169 more games for the Vancouver Canucks from 1988-91. Nordmark finished his career in the SEL.
The Red Wings didn’t draft any more Swedes until the 1984 entry draft when they picked three, Stefan Larsson, Lars Karlsson, and Urban Nordin. None of them ever played in the NHL.
Three more Swedes drafted by Detroit in 1985, Thomas Bjuhr, Bo Svanberg, Mikael Lindman, also did not make it to the NHL.
The Wings tried their luck with Swedes for the third straight year in the 1986 draft when they picked three more; Johan Garpenlov , Per Djoos , and Peter Ekroth. It was a somewhat successful Swedish draft. Both Garpenlov (87 games from 1990-92) and Djoos (26 games in 1990-91) played for the Red Wings.
At the time, left Winger Johan Garpenlov was the highest pick (5th round, 85th overall) Detroit had ever used to pick a European player. He scored 40 points as a rookie in 1990-91. He was traded the next season to the San Jose Sharks and later to the Florida Panthers, and went on to play 609 games with 311 points in the NHL.
After playing 16 seasons and 1099 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Salming played 49 games for Detroit in the last season of his career. He had 19 points and was a +20.
The Swedish trailblazer was an idol for future superstars like Mats Sundin and Nicklas Lidstrom.
In 1987 the Wings took a shot on Tomas Jansson in the 12th round. The long shot didn’t pan out.
Swedish amateur scout Christer Rockström can be credited with two of the biggest moves in Detroit Red Wings history. The first was scouting and drafting Nicklas Lidstrom with the 53rd overall pick (3rd round) in the 1989 draft. The second was recommending Håkan Andersson as his replacement in 1990.
Eriksson played parts of four seasons (1995-1999) with the Wings before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for Chris Chelios.
When they traded Greg Johnson to Pittsburgh for Tomas Sandstrom on January 27th, 1997, the Red Wings had four Swedes (Lidstrom, Eriksson, Holmstrom, and Sandstrom) on the roster and went on to win their first Stanley Cup in 42 years.
The Red Wings repeated as Stanley Cup champions in 1998 with Lidstrom, Eriksson, and Holmstrom playing in the finals.
Detroit didn’t have as much luck drafting Swedish players from 1995 to 1998. They drafted seven young Swedes (Per Eklund, David Engblom, Johan Forsander, Magnus Nilsson, John Wikstrom, Carl Steen, and David Petrasek) who never made it to the NHL.
The Red Wings luck would change when they took a shot on drafting Henrik Zetterberg with the 210th overall pick in the 7th round of the 1999 draft. Zetterberg is a cornerstone leader on the team today.
Another current roster player that was a successful scouting job by Andersson was defenseman Niklas Kronwall, taken in the 1st round in 2000.
In 2001, the Wings signed veteran free-agent defenseman Fredrik Olausson, and won their third cup in six years in 2002 with three Swedes on the roster (Lidstrom, Holmstrom, and Olausson).
Detroit would draft two more key Swedish players, taking Jonathan Ericsson with the very last pick in the 2002 draft, and going after overaged prospect Johan Franzen in the third round, with the 97th overall pick in 2004.
The Red Wings would become known as the “Swede Wings” in 2005 when they signed free agents Andreas Lilja and Mikael Samuelsson to join Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Zetterberg, Kronwall, and rookie Johan Franzen.
In July 2006 Nicklas Lidstrom was named Captain of the Detroit Red Wings.
Rookies Jonathan Ericsson and Mattias Ritola would be added to the roster in 2007-08 to give Detroit nine Swedish players when they won the Stanley Cup that season.
The Red Wings have drafted nine Swedish prospects since 2005; Johan Ryno, Dick Axelsson, Daniel Larsson, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Jesper Samuelsson, Adam Almqvist, Calle Jarnkrok, and Matthias Backman. Jarnkrok has been compared in some ways to his favorite player, Henrik Zetterberg.
Rookies Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, and 2011 Free agent signee Fabian Brunnstrom all made their Red Wings debut during the 2011-12 season, once again making it a total of nine Swedes on the roster.
End of an ERA
Nicklas Lidstrom retired on May 31st, 2012 as arguably the greatest defenseman in NHL history. He won seven Norris Trophies, and was the first European player to ever win a Conn Smythe trophy. He was team captain for six seasons and was the first European player to ever captain a team to a Stanley Cup Victory (2008).
Lidstrom played 20 seasons (making the playoffs his entire career) and 1564 games for the Red Wings. He tallied 1142 career points, a career +450 (plus/minus) and will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, and likely be remembered as the greatest Swedish player to ever play the game.
With the retirement of Lidstrom, Zetterberg was named the team captain.
Tomas Holmstrom retired on January 22nd, 2013. He played 1026 games camped out in front of opposing goalies for 15 seasons. He battled for every one of his 243 goals and 287 assists. His net-front presence was key to the success of Detroit's power-play. "Homer" was part of four Stanley Cup Champions, and will be remembered as one of the most entertaining characters in team history.
The 2013 Wings have seven Swedes on the roster: Zetterberg, Kronwall, Franzen, Ericsson, free agent returnee Mikael Samuelsson, free agent signee Jonas Gustavsson, rookies Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist.
|Detroit Red Wings Draft History of Swedish Players|
|1981 Entry||191||10||Robert Nordmark||D||Lulea HF [SEL]||236||13||70||83||254|
|1984 Entry||91||5||Mats Lundstrom||F||Swedish National Team|
|1984 Entry||133||7||Stefan Larsson||D||Vastra Frolunda [Sweden]|
|1984 Entry||152||8||Lars Karlsson||F||Farjestads BK [SEL]|
|1984 Entry||154||8||Urban Nordin||F||Modo Ornskoldsvik [SEL]|
|1985 Entry||134||7||Thomas Bjuhr||L||AIK Solna [SEL]|
|1985 Entry||218||11||Bo Svanberg||C||Farjestads BK [SEL]|
|1985 Entry||239||12||Mikael Lindman||D||AIK Solna [SEL]|
|1986 Entry||85||5||Johan Garpenlov||L||Nacka (Sweden)||609||114||197||311||276|
|1986 Entry||127||7||Par Djoos||D||Mora (Sweden)||82||2||31||33||58|
|1986 Entry||232||12||Peter Ekroth||Sodertalje SK [SEL]|
|1987 Entry||242||12||Tomas Jansson||Talje (Sweden)|
|1989 Entry||53||3||Nicklas Lidstrom||D||Vasteras IK [SEL]||1412||237||809||1046||466|
|1993 Entry||22||1||Anders Eriksson||D||Modo Ornskoldsvik [SEL]||572||22||154||176||242|
|1994 Entry||257||10||Tomas Holmstrom||L||Bodens BK [Swe-1]||879||214||255||469||667|
|1995 Entry||182||7||Per Eklund||R||Djurgardens IF [SEL]|
|1995 Entry||234||9||David Engblom||C||Vallentuna (Sweden)|
|1996 Entry||108||4||Johan Forsander||L||HV71 Jonkoping [SEL]|
|1996 Entry||144||6||Magnus Nilsson||L||Vita Hasten (Sweden)|
|1997 Entry||129||5||John Wikstrom||D||Lulea HF [SEL]|
|1998 Entry||142||5||Carl Steen||C||Hammarby IK [Sweden]|
|1998 Entry||226||8||David Petrasek||D||HV71 Jonkoping [SEL]|
|1999 Entry||120||4||Jari Tolsa||L||Frolunda (Sweden)|
|1999 Entry||210||7||Henrik Zetterberg||L||Timra (Sweden)||506||206||269||475||184|
|2000 Entry||29||1||Niklas Kronwall||D||Djurgardens IF [SEL]||308||23||121||144||224|
|2000 Entry||102||4||Stefan Liv||G||HV71 Jonkoping [SEL]|
|2000 Entry||228||7||Jimmie Svensson||L||Vasteras Jrs. (Sweden)|
|2001 Entry||157||5||Andreas Jamtin||R||Farjestads BK [SEL]|
|2002 Entry||131||4||Johan Berggren||D||Sunne (Sweden)|
|2002 Entry||262||9||Christian Soderstrom||L||Timra IK [SEL]|
|2002 Entry||291||9||Jonathan Ericsson||D||Sweden||89||6||12||18||63|
|2003 Entry||170||6||Andreas Sundin||L||Linkoping HC [SEL]|
|2003 Entry||194||6||Stefan Blom||Hammarby Jrs. (Sweden)|
|2003 Entry||226||7||Tomas Kollar||L||Hammarby Jrs. (Sweden)|
|2003 Entry||289||9||Mikael Johansson||C||Arvika HC [Sweden]|
|2004 Entry||97||3||Johan Franzen||R||Linkoping HC [SEL]||319||93||71||164||190|
|2004 Entry||192||6||Anton Axelsson||L||Frolunda Jrs (Sweden)|
|2004 Entry||290||9||Nils Backstrom||D||Stocksunds (Sweden)|
|2005 Entry||80||3||Christofer Lofberg||C||Djurgarden Jrs. (Sweden)|
|2005 Entry||103||4||Mattias Ritola||L||Leksand Jrs (Sweden)||7||0||1||1||0|
|2005 Entry||137||5||Johan Ryno||L||Kumla Jrs (Sweden)|
|2006 Entry||62||2||Dick Axelsson||L||Huddinge (Sweden)|
|2006 Entry||92||3||Daniel Larsson||G||Hammarby (Sweden)|
|2007 Entry||88||3||Joakim Andersson||C||Frolunda Jrs (Sweden)|
|2008 Entry||121||4||Gustav Nyquist||C||Malmo Jrs [Sweden]|
|2008 Entry||211||7||Jesper Samuelsson||C||Timra Jrs. (Sweden)|
|2009 Entry||210||7||Adam Almqvist||D||HV 71 Jrs. (Sweden)|
|2010 Entry||51||2||Calle Jarnkrok||C||Brynas IF Gavle [SEL]|
|2011 Entry||146||5||Mattias Backman||D||Linkoping Jr. [Sweden]|