Ranking the 5 Best European Players in Detroit Red Wings History
The NHL made an announcement during All-Star weekend that the World Cup of Hockey would be making a return in 2016. There will be eight teams competing in the tournament: the United States, Canada, Sweden, Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic, a North American U-23 Young Stars team and a European All-Star team representing the other countries.
When they announced that there will be a European All-Star team, it made me think about some of the greatest European players who have ever sported the winged wheel.
This slideshow will take a look at the five greatest European players who have played for the Red Wings, and they will be slotted based on what they accomplished while they played in Detroit.
5. Dominik Hasek
Stats: 114-39-19, 2.13 goals-against average, .911 save percentage, two-time Stanley Cup Champion
Dominik Hasek is one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014. He is ranked No. 5 here because he spent the majority of his career with other franchises.
All of Hasek's individual trophies—including his six Vezinas, his two Harts and two Lester B. Pearson awards— came while he was with the Sabres, so he loses points when evaluating his placement among all European players who have suited up for the Red Wings.
4. Henrik Zetterberg
Stats: 80 games, 765 points, two-time Stanley Cup champion, 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy winner
Henrik Zetterberg is one of the greatest players in the history of the Detroit Red Wings, and he ranks seventh in scoring. The skilled two-way center was a crucial member of two most recent Stanley Cup championship teams, and he won the Conn Smythe in 2008 as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Zetterberg has been a solid mentor for a number of young players who have come through the Red Wings' system over the last few years, and there's a good chance his No. 40 will be retired at some point in the future.
3. Pavel Datsyuk
Stats: 860 games, 839 points, 2008 Stanley Cup champion, three-time Selke Trophy winner, four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner
Pavel Datsyuk is a very talented player who probably would have even better numbers if he entered the league before age 23. The dynamic center has dazzled and amazed with fancy stick work, amazing goals and other accolades throughout his entire NHL career.
The Magic Man been recognized for his conduct on the ice with four consecutive Lady Byng Trophies from 2005 to 2009 and his quality defensive plays with three consecutive Selke Trophies from 2008 to 2010. Datsyuk is just a great all-around player, and he will be recognized as one of the best from his era after he hangs up his skates.
2. Sergei Fedorov
Stats: 908 games, 954 points, two-time Stanley Cup champion, 1994 Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Trophy winner, 1994 and 1996 Selke Trophy winner
Sergei Fedorov doesn't get enough credit for how good of a center he was, partially because of some unsuccessful years with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals. Before there was Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, there was Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov.
He was onece a skilled defensive player with incredible offensive abilities and was a dual threat whenever he was on the ice. The Red Wings' 1989 draft pick dazzled for 13 seasons in Detroit and is arguably one of the greatest European centers in hockey history.
He also has one of the best stories in league history, as he defected to the NHL while the Russian national team was playing in the Goodwill Games in Seattle, according to an archived story on the Red Wings' official site.
After a game, Fedorov sneaked out of his hotel and met general manager Jim Lites, who orchestrated his transport to Detroit.
He is eligible to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015 and should be a lock to earn enshrinement.
1. Nicklas Lidstrom
Stats: 1,564 games played, 1,142 points, seven-time Norris Trophy winner, four-time Stanley Cup champion, 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, 2006 Olympic gold medalist
This is a bit anticlimactic because everyone knew it was coming. Nicklas Lidstrom is without question one of the greatest European players in NHL history and is considered to be one of the best defenders in NHL history.
Drafted 53rd overall in 1989, Lidstrom made his impact known as soon as he entered the NHL as a 21-year-old. He tallied 60 points in 1991-92 and finished second in the Calder Trophy vote behind legendary sniper Pavel Bure.
He is in a category of top-tier defenders that includes Bobby Orr and Doug Harvey, two legends who absolutely revolutionized the way the game was played during their respective eras. Lidstrom is a bona fide lock to enter the Hall of Fame in 2015, and if he doesn't, it will be a total travesty.