Swede Wings

The Detroit Red Wings History of Swedish Players

By Chris Turner, Zetterbergfan.com, Updated October 17th, 2013


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.


The Red Wings 1st Swedish draft pick was defenseman Robert Nordmark,  drafted from Lulea HF (SEL)  in the 10th round, 191st pick, of the 1981 Entry Draft.


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.


In the 1989-90 season, the Red Wings had one of the greatest and most influential Swedish players of all-time, legendary Hall-of-Famer, Borje Salming. 


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.  


In the 1993 draft, scout Håkan Andersson would have his first successful draft pick, defenseman Anders Eriksson . Eriksson (1st round, 22nd overall) was the highest drafted Swede ever by the Detroit Red Wings.

Eriksson played parts of four seasons (1995-1999) with the Wings before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for Chris Chelios.


The Red Wings have drafted at least one Swede in every year’s draft since selecting Eriksson in the 1st round of 1993.


Håkan Andersson had another stellar draft pick in 1994 when he selected Tomas Holmstrom 257th overall in the 10th round.  


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.

Samuelsson signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks in 2009. Lilja signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2010. Ritola was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010. The other six Swedes (Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Zetterberg, Kronwall, Franzen, and Ericsson) are still part of the core of the team.


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 gr

eatest 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 Red Wings have drafted twelve Swedish prospects since 2005; Johan Ryno, Dick Axelsson, Daniel Larsson, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Jesper Samuelsson, Adam AlmqvistCalle Jarnkrok, Matthias Backman, Rasmus Bodin, Mattias Janmark-Nylen, and Hampus Melen. 

Jarnkrok has been compared in some ways to his favorite player, Henrik Zetterberg.

Red Wings sign Daniel Alfredsson
By Chuck Pleiness, thenewsherald.com, July 11th, 2013 

The Wings made a big splash on the first day of NHL free agency Friday with the signing of forward Daniel Alfredsson.
Alfredsson, 40, gets a one-year deal at $3.5 million to go with possibly $2 million in bonuses that would bring the deal up to $5.5 million.
“I didn’t really see myself making a change if you would have asked me a week ago, but as we got closer to free agency, thoughts started creeping in that it’s been 18 years and I haven’t won the Stanley Cup,” Alfredsson said. “That’s my dream.”
It was extremely difficult,” Alfredsson said. “It pretty much came down to I have not won a Stanley Cup and that’s a big priority to me… It was a tough decision to make and it still hasn’t sunk in. I’m doing this for myself, I feel this is right for me and I really like to (finish) it with the Detroit Red Wings.”
Alfredsson, who plans to move his family to Detroit, spent 17 seasons in Ottawa.
Alfredsson said, “I did have some teams that were interested and expressed their interest and I talked to a few teams. I talked to a couple of guys. (Henrik) Zetterberg I talked to two or three times. He was the one I bounced around ideas with mostly.”
Alfredsson will be the eighth Swede in Detroit’s locker room joining Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson, Gustav Nyquist and Jonas Gustavsson.
Alfredsson mentioned he liked the style of hockey the Wings play, puck possession and pushing the pace.
“I just think with the personnel they have I think I can come in and be of help in different areas and be part of something really good,” Alfredsson said. “I know quite a few of the guys from before. I know their personalities. I know how they play. The culture of Detroit really appealed to me with all the conversations I’ve had with different players that have been there.”
Alfredsson, who’s a right-handed shot, had 10 goal and 16 assists in 47 games this last season.
Over his 1,178-game career, he has 426 goals and 682 assists.
Alfredsson, who had been the league’s longest serving captain, can play the point on the power play and kill penalties.
What makes the move more interesting is the fact that the Wings will be playing in a division with the Senators, whom Alfredsson will have to play four or five times with at least two of the meetings taking place in Ottawa.
Detroit jumps to the Eastern Conference next season to compete in a yet-to-be-named division with Ottawa, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Florida.

Red Wings Captain Henrik Zetterberg: Daniel Alfredsson Signing “Fantastic”
By Greg Kruppa, Detnews.com, July 5th, 2013 
From Sweden, concerning the signing Friday of the future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Daniel Alfredsson, comes the headline:
“Countrymen on the Detroit Red Wings rejoice.”
“This is fantastic,” Sportbladet quotes the Wings’ captain, Henrik Zetterberg. “Now there’s not a lot of talk about who I will give the (Stanley Cup), if we win.”
That may overstate it, a bit. The fact Alfredsson’s signing is greeted with unbridled enthusiasm by Zetterberg is the best evidence of what the move is all about. When healthy, Alfredsson can still score 20, provide great character and courage, and his insights on the play of other teams and players in the new Eastern Conference of the NHL could prove a significant contribution.
“I am just as surprised as everyone else,” Zetterberg said. “But I am definitely excited to have him as a teammate.”
Speaking of his experience with Alfredsson in international competitions, when both play for Sweden, Zetterberg said, “We haven’t played so much five-on-five but more on the power play, and that went really well.
“We will certainly use him on the power play now, too, and I hope we will even get the opportunity five-on-five. It should be good to try out.”
Zetterberg added, “Absolutely, he fits in perfectly in our game system and will play an important role as a right-handed shot and will be a key player on the power play.
“It will be even better off the ice both for Daniel and his family. I have been here, what is it, ten years, and can attest that it is a wonderfully pleasant place to live in.”
The Red Wing now have nine Swedes on their (2013-14) roster, and it is from A to Z: Alfredsson, Joakim Andersson, Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen, Jonas Gustavsson, Niklas Kronwall, Gustav Nyquist, Mikael Samuelsson and Zetterberg.
Russian Five? How about the Swedish Nine!
Much of the Alfredsson’s desire to come to Detroit may well have to do with both that presence and a shot at his first Stanley Cup after 18 years in the NHL. Other factors may have also spurred his departure from Ottawa, and the thinking around the league is the Senators’ owners have some money problems.
“Yes, we can win,” the Swedish paper quotes Zetterberg, about the Stanley Cup. “I think we had a good season least year, a few of the young guys came forward. Now we’ve got ‘Affe’ and maybe someone else. I think it feels really promising.”

Daniel Alfredsson loves Red Wings' style, says they give him his best chance for elusive Stanley Cup
By Ansar Khan, Mlive.com, July 5th, 2013

Daniel Alfredsson insists he wasn't chasing the money, he was chasing his dream.
Alfredsson sent early shock waves through the hockey world Friday, on the first day of free agency, by signing a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings, after spending his entire 17-year NHL career with the Ottawa Senators.
Understandably, it was a difficult decision, but the 40-year-old right wing and future Hall of Famer believes the Red Wings afford him a better opportunity to win the Stanley Cup for the first time.
“I’ve had nothing but great times in Ottawa,'' Alfredsson said. “I didn’t really see myself making a change, but as we got closer to free agency, thoughts started creeping in that it’s been 18 years and I haven’t won the Stanley Cup. That’s my dream.''
He believes joining a team with Henrik Zetterberg, who was instrumental in recruiting him, and Pavel Datsyuk, as well as a bevy of fellow Swedes, gives him his best opportunity.
He talked to a few Red Wings before making his decision and had multiple conversations with Zetterberg.
“He was the one I bounced around ideas with mostly,'' Alfredsson said.
Zetterberg told Swedish Web site st.nu, "Our (Stanley Cup) chances are increased definitely with him on the team.
“I've played with him on the national team and have only good memories from the Olympics and World Championships.''
The Red Wings signed Stephen Weiss Friday (five years, $24.5 million) to be their second-line center. This enables them to use Datsyuk and Zetterberg together, with Justin Abdelkader. Weiss will center a line with Alfredsson and Johan Franzen.
Alfredsson called Datsyuk and Zetterberg the best two-way players in the game and said Detroit's puck-possession style appealed to him.
“I feel that’s the strength of my game, playing a two-way game,'' Alfredsson said. “I love watching (Datsyuk and Zetterberg) and the whole team play with or without the puck because they do so many good things, little things that many people can’t pick up. They perform extremely well under pressure and in important situations.
“In talking to Henrik, he hadn’t made up his mind who I was going to play with yet. No, I’m just kidding. It’s obviously going to be (coach Mike) Babcock’s decision. He was just happy that I was able to join as a right-handed shot. For me, playing even with Stephen, as a left-handed player, should open up a lot of chances for me.''
 “Everyone knows Detroit’s goals are always to be at the top of the game and to win championships,'' Alfredsson said. “I’m really excited to get this opportunity at this stage of my career to go for a Stanley Cup and fulfill a longtime dream.''

1st All-Swedish Line in NHL game. The Detroit Red Wings started forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and Gustav Nyquist with defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson all on the same line with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. Also in the line-up were Swedes Joakim Andersson and Mikael Samuelsson Zetterberg assisted on two goals by Nyquist and a goal by Kronwall. -11/21/2013 vs Carolina

Complete List of Swedish Players to have Played for the Detroit Red Wings

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