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5 Best Finnish-born NHL Players

In terms of television viewership and game attendance numbers, ice hockey is the most popular sport in Finland. So, it’s no wonder that the country has produced some of the world’s best hockey players. And many have gone on to become star players of the NHL. Here is our selection of the five best Finnish-born players of all time.

5. Saku Koivu

 

Born in Turku, Saku Koivu began his career with TPS of the Finnish SM-liiga, the premier league in Finland. After three seasons, he joined the Montreal Canadiens in 1995. Out of the 14 years that he spent with the club, he was captain for 10. That makes him the joint longest-serving captain in the team’s history, alongside Jean Béliveau. Koivu received many awards and honors throughout his career, including the 2002 Bill Masterton Trophy and the 2007 King Clancy Memorial Trophy. Koivu is also notable for being the Canadiens’ first-ever European-born captain.

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4. Miikka Kiprusoff

Affectionately nicknamed Kipper, Miikka Kiprusoff is one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history. He set a record for lowest goals against average, at 1.69, and is the Calgary Flames’ record holder in both wins and shoutouts. In 2006, Kiprusoff won the Vezina Trophy for best goalie in the NHL and the William M. Jennings Trophy for giving up the fewest goals. Kiprusoff also helped the Flames to reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2004. In addition to playing for the Flames, the Turku-born goaltender played for the San Jose Sharks. And he represented Finland on the international stage several times, which earned him silver medals at the Ice Hockey World Championships of both 1999 and 2001. He also helped the Finnish national team to win a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in 2010.

 

3. Tomas Sandström

Most Finnish hockey fans will probably not recognize Tomas Sandström as one of their own due to the fact that he grew up in Sweden and played internationally for the Swedish team, who are fierce rivals of Finland. But Sandström was born in Jakobstad, Finland, so he most definitely deserves a place on this list. Amongst Finnish-born hockey players, he ranks as the fourth all-time scorer, with a stellar career total of 856 points. Playing in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings in 1993, he scored eight goals in their run to the Stanley Cup Finals. He also played for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim from 1997 until 1999, after which he retired.

 

2. Jari Kurri

The Finnish winger Jari Kurri was one of the few who could keep up with Wayne Gretzky. Now retired, Kurri was a five-time Stanley Cup winner, and in 2017 he was named one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players in history. Kurri’s records speak for themselves. From 1980 to 1990, he recorded ten consecutive 30-goal seasons. His all-time point record is from the 1984-85 season, with 135, and his goal record comes from the same season, with 71. In 2001, Jari Kurri was deservedly inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

 

1. Teemu Selänne

No one will dispute that The Finnish Flash, Teemu Selänne, is the greatest Finnish-born NHL player of all time. He started as he meant to go on when, in his rookie season with the Winnipeg Jets, Selänne scored an incredible 76 goals. Over his 21 seasons of professional hockey with the Jets, the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks, and Colorado Avalanche, the Helsinki-born winger became the highest-scoring Finn in NHL history. Selänne scored 684 goals throughout his career, which ranks him 11th all-time. He also notably won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007. In 2017, Teemu Selänne was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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