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Which International Country Features the Most NHL Players?

Compared to other major sports leagues in North America, the NHL comes out on top
when it comes to international representation.

Based on 2019-20 season statistics, The NHL features almost one-third of players who
originate from outside the US and Canada – 31.6% to be precise. In comparison, the MLB
comes in second with 27.8%, the NBA with 20.9%, and the NFL with a distinctly low 2.5%.

As for which international countries boast the biggest number of players in the NHL, the
names shouldn’t be a surprise. They generally have a cold climate, which means ice hockey
is a natural fit with its requirement for a rink and skates.

For a more in-depth breakdown, here’s a look at the international countries which feature the
most NHL-based players.

Sweden (79 players)
When you think about the ice hockey pedigree of Sweden, there’s a reason why it ranks at
number one on this list. Part of the “Big Six”, Sweden’s national team has won two Olympic
gold medals and 11 IIHF World Championships.

Highlighted by research done by Betway, there are currently 79 Swedish players in the NHL.
This includes one of the best playmakers in the league, Nicklas Backstrom, and defensive
rocks Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson.

Finland (33 players)
Next up with a healthy 33 players is Finland. This number is an easy one to understand
when you realize ice hockey is the most popular sport in Finland. It receives the most
significant amount of television viewership figures and game attendees on average, and
there are approximately 70,000 licensed players in the country.

As for the best Finnish players in the NHL, youngsters Sebastian Aho, Aleksander Barkov, and Patrik Laine are
making big impressions with their attacking abilities. Tuukka Rask, the Boston Bruins goalie,
also needs recognition for his 2014 Vezina Trophy.

Russia (31 players)
In the most recent IIHF World Ranking, Russia sits only behind Canada at the top of the
charts. This is helped by the fact they have several star performers currently operating in the
NHL.

Russia boasts some of the most exceptional attacking talent in the world. The spotlight is
usually placed on the legendary Alex Ovechkin in that regard, but Evgeni Malkin, Evgeny
Kuznetsov and Nikita Kucherov are all alongside him right now.

Czech Republic (26 players)
In the ice hockey world, the Czech Republic has been judged as a major player ever since
landing gold at the Winter Olympics in 1998. As a result, it’s no surprise they have 26
players operating in the NHL.

David Krejci has built up a legendary career in the NHL since joining the Boston Bruins
almost 15 years ago, but there’s a new Czech star in the league. This is 23-year-old
teammate David Pastrnak, who scored 48 goals in the 2019-20 season to win the Maurice
Richard Trophy alongside Alex Ovechkin.

Switzerland (11 players)
They might not be part of the “Big Six” like the aforementioned countries, but Switzerland still
has a part to play. With a respectable 11 players in the NHL at present, Roman Josi – one of
the best all-around defensemen in the league – is seen as the shining Swiss representative
right now.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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