The NHL's top 10 European-born players of all time
Posted: Thursday March 30, 2006 12:14PM; Updated: Thursday March 30, 2006 2:22PM
Hall of Famer Stanislaus Guoth preceded the NHL's European invasion by 20 years.
Nine times in the 12 seasons from 1992-93 to 2003-04, a European-born player was the NHL's leader or co-leader in goals. The Rangers' Jaromir Jagr seems intent on making it 10 of 13. In fact, Jagr, the league's leading scorer as of March 29, could claim his fifth Art Ross Trophy in eight seasons.
Such success among Europeans used to be unheard of. Other than a Borje Salming here or an Ivan Boldirev there, Europeans in the NHL were by no means abundant. At the start of the 1980-81 season there were roughly 30 of them -- mostly Swedes -- sprinkled among the league's rosters. It would be another decade before the Iron Curtain would fall, allowing players from Soviet-controlled nations to seek work in the NHL without having to defect.
While rookies Alexander Ovechkin and Henrik Lundqvist are among this season's big names, they will have to wait their turn to be considered for the list below: the top 10 NHL careers among European-born players.
While enjoying a Renaissance season on Broadway, Jagr is in line to become the all-time leader in goals and points among Europeans. Second in both categories, his first 50-goal and 100-plus-point season since 2000-01 has revitalized not only the 34-year-old right wing, but also the fortunes of the previously dormant Blueshirts.
2. Stan Mikita Birthplace: Sokolce, Czechoslovakia 1958-59 to 1979-80; Blackhawks
The all-time leader in points (1,467), assists (926) and games (1,394) among Europeans, Stanislaus Guoth moved to Canada as young boy, where he was taken in by an aunt and uncle, the Mikitas. He played his entire 20-plus seasons with the Blackhawks, led the league in scoring four times and was named MVP twice.
3. Dominik Hasek Birthplace: Pardubice, Czechoslovakia 1990-91 to present; Blackhawks, Sabres, Red Wings, Senators
The five-time Czechoslovakian Goaltender of the Year made his NHL debut at 25 and won his first of six Vezina Trophies at 29. His collection of Vezinas came in a stretch of seven seasons during which he led the NHL in shutouts four times. Hasek, who has a 2.22 career GAA, has led the league in save percentage six times.
4. Peter Stastny Birthplace: Bratislava, Czechoslovakia 1980-81 to 1994-95; Nordiques, Devils, Blues
He defected with brother Anton in the summer of 1980 and proceeded to post 109 points and win the Calder. It was the first of five straight 100-point seasons and six of seven en route to 1,239 career points. Stastny topped 40 goals five times and participated in six NHL All-Star games.
5. Jari Kurri Birthplace: Helsinki 1980-81 to 1997-98; Oilers, Kings, Rangers, Mighty Ducks, Avalanche
The all-time leader among Europeans with 601 goals, Kurri topped 50 in four straight seasons, including a career-high 71 in 1984-85. A five-time Stanley Cup champ with Edmonton, he scored 19 of his 106 playoff goals during the '85 postseason.