All-Time Teams: SWEDEN

With PPS in our back pocket to rank the HHOF-worthiness of every NHL player in history, the possibilities are limitless. This is the launch of a new recurring series to provide objective lists of hockey’s most accomplished — by country, by era, by franchise, best-of-all-time, active. It’s a canvas to highlight iconic players and spark debate, while safely allowing me to hide behind my system (kidding, kidding!).

First up in the series are players that represent an international hockey powerhouse, Sweden.

The Rules πŸ“‹

  • The PPS System will guide the lists. Only in rare circumstances where an active player is so close to another that they’d have passed them in real-time will PPS be overridden.
  • We’ll typically name two teams, each with three forwards, two defencemen, and one goaltender. If there’s some close calls, we’ll be sure to mention them!
  • While my tweets and player commentary frequently consider details beyond the data, intangibles and non-NHL play (i.e., junior, college, other professional leagues, international play outside best-on-best) are not included in PPS and won’t be considered in filling these teams.
  • A friendly reminder that forwards, defencemen, and goaltenders earn value differently, and their PPS scores are not designed to be comparable.
  • Lastly, we are not identifying the most talented, best or most influential players, but rather the most HHOF-worthy by the numbers.

Let’s get started!

The First Team πŸ₯‡

πŸ₯… Goaltender: Henrik Lundvqist

  • PPS Score: 344 (Qualified)
  • HHOF Status: Not Yet Eligible (2023)
  • High Noon: #1
  • Adjusted Pace: +13.7 GSAA, .525 W%

The slick-haired heartthrob brought Swedish goaltending to another stratosphere. Before Hank’s emergence, only Tommy Salo hit 300 NHL goalie games among Swedes. Lundqvist’s 2011-12 Vezina Trophy remains the last such win by a Swede, joining only the late phenom, Pelle Lindbergh (1984-85), in this exclusive fraternity. The 15-year Ranger superstar should, however, become the first Swedish goalie elected to the HHOF when eligible in June 2023, the only first-time player warranting serious consideration this year.

Here is Lundqvist’s PPS card, first highlighted in this project’s Daily Faceoff debut feature.

β›” Defenceman: Nicklas Lidstrom

  • PPS Score: 437 (Inner Circle)
  • HHOF Status: Inducted (2015)
  • High Noon: #1
  • Adjusted Pace: 15/47/62

Universally accepted as the greatest Swede at any position in NHL history, Lidstrom is the country’s only Inner Circle HHOFer by PPS. Perhaps the most startling Lidstrom career fact: he finished top-six in Norris voting for 16 consecutive years, from ages 25 through 41. Only Bobby Orr (eight) exceeds his seven Norris wins. You’d need a full pot of coffee to stay awake long enough to hear me pump Nick’s tires adequately, so let’s move on!

β›” Defenceman: Victor Hedman

  • PPS Score: 293 (Qualified)
  • HHOF Status: Active
  • High Noon: #1
  • Adjusted Pace: 13/45/58

Perhaps the first surprise in a historical sense, Hedman has achieved legendary status in his first 13 NHL seasons. Vic’s CV: two Stanley Cups, including a Conn Smythe Trophy; six consecutive turns as a Norris finalist, including one Norris win. The only others to match these accolades: Bobby Orr and Lidstrom. Respectable company, to say the least! The only thing Hedman’s missing is a cool, mainstream nickname at this point.

πŸ’ Forward: Peter Forsberg

  • PPS Score: 321 (Qualified)
  • HHOF Status: Inducted (2014)
  • High Noon: #1
  • Adjusted Pace: 31/77/108

In a career where he played 66+ games only five times — and not once after age 29 — Forsberg’s belt still has some notable notches. He earned a Calder, Hart, Ross, Selke runner-up, 2 Cups, and also managed to lead the NHL in playoff scoring twice in seasons the Avs didn’t even make the finals(!). Oh, and he earned a 2006 Olympic Gold. Oh, and one more Olympic Gold earlier, when, at age 20, he had an iconic shootout move captured in a stamp. He properly cruised into the HHOF on the first try.

πŸ’ Forward: Mats Sundin

  • PPS Score: 282 (Qualified)
  • HHOF Status: Inducted (2012)
  • High Noon: #16
  • Adjusted Pace: 36/48/84

Two things stand out when reviewing the classy Leaf captain’s career in an Adjusted Hockey-style lens:

  • Only seven players have bettered Sundin’s 84-point adjusted pace over a career of that length — Dionne, Gretzky, Howe, Jagr, Sakic, Selanne, Yzerman. Whoa!
  • Sundin’s High Noon tops out as the #16 forward in the NHL. Ranked between #16 and #35 every eligible season, this aligns with the fact Sundin was top-10 in scoring only twice, five years apart.

These findings align with the polarizing sentiments that Sundin’s career manages to be both underrated and overrated. In my books, a no-doubt HHOF choice, far above the standard. He simply managed the feat in his usual quiet and understated way.

πŸ’ Forward: Daniel Alfredsson

  • PPS Score: 276 (Qualified)
  • HHOF Status: Inducted (2022)
  • High Noon: #4
  • Adjusted Pace: 32/49/81

The third forward on the all-Swede team is Ottawa’s beloved freshly minted HHOFer. Sundin lasted a little longer and played at a slightly higher level overall, but his peak was undoubtedly behind Alfie’s. Each had an Olympic gold and a solid but frustrating post-season career.

The comparison to Sundin is so strong by PPS that Alfredsson’s five-year wait is enough to give Ontario-based fans a leg to stand on with their requisite HHOF conspiracies. If only this project had been launched sooner! Jokes aside, an earlier blog post dove into Alfredsson’s outstanding candidacy. Both Sundin and Alfredsson are worthy HHOF players and Sweden should be equally proud of each.

The Second Team πŸ₯ˆ

πŸ₯… Goaltender: Robin Lehner

  • PPS Score: 258 (Not a Hall Candidate)
  • HHOF Status: Active
  • High Noon: #3
  • Adjusted Pace: +10.8 GSAA, .473 W%

While Lehner’s inclusion on the list might be an eye-opener, it is a welcome one. A two-time Jennings winner (on two different teams) and a one-time Vezina finalist, Panda’s Adjusted GSAA pace of +10.8 is remarkable. His lasting mark on hockey, however, will be his bravery in the face of significant mental health issues and addiction.

While Lindbergh won this poll, he tragically played only 2.7 Adjusted Seasons, not long enough to earn a Peak Value score under PPS (or to be realistically considered for the HHOF). The Philly star is one of hockey’s great “what-ifs.”

β›” Defenceman: Erik Karlsson

  • PPS Score: 280 (Qualified)
  • HHOF Status: Active
  • High Noon: #2
  • Adjusted Pace: 16/52/68

Matt Larkin expertly covered Karlsson’s HHOF case last week, featuring both his PPS and High Noon cards. The two-time Norris winner remains underappreciated, his 68 Adjusted Point pace sitting fifth all-time(!), behind only Bourque, Coffey, Leetch, and Orr among defencemen with 200+ NHL games.

β›” Defenceman: Borje Salming

  • PPS Score: 247 (Hall of Very Good)
  • HHOF Status: Inducted (1996)
  • High Noon: #4
  • Adjusted Pace: 9/37/46

Salming’s heartbreaking physical decline from ALS recently sent shockwaves across the global hockey community. His trailblazing impact in the 1970s and beyond cannot be understated. Facing scorn and prejudice that a European could not handle the physical tolls of the NHL, The King rose to become the first European-born and trained player elected to the HHOF.

While his PPS score technically is a little below the standard, rest assured, Salming far exceeded it at the time of his retirement. Really, who cares when it comes to Borje? With Norris votes in his first 10 seasons and having paved the way for generations of Swedes, Salming’s life and career are a gift to the sport.

πŸ’ Forward: Daniel Sedin

  • PPS Score: 259 (Qualified)
  • HHOF Status: Inducted (2022)
  • High Noon: #3
  • Adjusted Pace: 27/44/71

The PPS system separates hockey’s famous twins, as Daniel is the only Sedin to snag a spot on the all-Swede second team. While Henrik has the MVP and wore the “C” in Vancouver, it’s Daniel’s goal-scoring that elevates his career by the numbers. Adjusted for era, Daniel scores approximately 11 more goals per 82 games than Henrik, the more difficult and repeatable feat in terms of generating value. The Sedins are rightful HHOF players, but seeing them “split” here is an interesting career footnote.

πŸ’ Forward: Henrik Zetterberg

  • PPS Score: 255 (Qualified)
  • HHOF Status: Not Inducted (since 2021)
  • High Noon: #4
  • Adjusted Pace: 28/51/79

πŸ’ Forward: Nicklas Backstrom

  • PPS Score: 231 (Borderline Below)
  • HHOF Status: Active
  • High Noon: #8
  • Adjusted Pace: 22/62/83

A similar distinction plays out between two well-loved Swedish HHOF candidates in Zetterberg and Backstrom. The Red Wing star scored more often overall, particularly during their peak years. Throw in his legendary ’08 playoff run and Olympic gold, and “Z” adds further distance from the dynamic Caps’ playmaker. Still on the road to recovery from major surgery, Backstrom is extremely close to the HHOF standard, and will warrant well-earned discussion when he becomes eligible.

It should be noted the goals vs. assists discussion differs from the famous Ovechkin vs. Crosby rivalry. While Ovie nets about 13 more adjusted goals per 82 games than Sid, Crosby bests him by a whopping 27(!) adjusted assists per 82 games. This more than erases their goal deficit, giving Team Crosby the value edge. Since there are approximately five assists given out for every three goals, a playmaker must compensate greatly for scoring fewer goals. When it comes to the Sedins and Zetterberg/Backstrom, however, each pair produce points comparably, thus the goal scorer in each case rightfully gets a major bump.

Honourable Mentions:
Forwards — Henrik Sedin (PPS = 228), Markus Naslund (220);
DefencemenCalle Johansson (212); Stefan Persson & Fredrik Olausson (208);
GoaltendersJacob Markstrom (228), Tommy Salo (225)

The Squad ⚑

Colours aligns to PPS Player Card tiers

* All statistics and PPS scores are through the 2021-22 season.
Eras, Adjusted Pace data, High Noon, PPS System, High Noon & PPS Player Cards fromΒ Adjusted Hockey;
All other data fromΒ

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