It took the NHL more than 48 years since its establishment in 1917, to recruit the first international player in 1965. Since then, the league has not leaped backward and is even competing with other dominant American leagues that are at the forefront of signing foreign-born players. Today, research from Betway shows that the NHL represents about 20 different Nationalities across the globe alongside the NBA, leading to the list with 37, NFL 23, and MLB 21.
UP to 2019/2020, the season has shown great diversity in players who have played and some who are still on their careers. This promises a bigger future for all the 1.7M active hockey players across the 79 global countries registered to the IIHF. In other words, hockey keeps on growing day by day, and there is no secret that America and Canada will soon be facing stiff competition even from African and Asian countries, such as Algeria and India, respectively.
Do you want to know where all these international players come from? Well, here is the list of the most prevalent nationalities represented in the NHL
Switzerland hasn’t been prevalent like other European countries such as Russia and Sweden, but has since improved in terms of dominance and can boast a total of 11 skaters. Top three Swiss players with a leading sterling performance are lucky to be in the same team and play for Nashville. These players are Yannick Weber, Roman Josi, and Kevin Fiala. Other dominant Swiss players in the NHL include Johnny Oduya, a solid-free agent for New Jersey in the 2006/2007 season, Adam Larsson, Johan Hedberg, and Patrik Sundstrom, who managed to play five seasons with the Devils.
Germany has not been particularly productive or prevalent in NHL history, compared to the NBA. However, within the last decade, the country boasts 4 skaters and 2 goalies, putting it way ahead of the United Kingdom, which only has one skater. Notable German names in the NHL include Leon Draisaitl, Tobias Reider, Thomas Greiss, and Philipp Grubauer.
Czechoslovakia’s collapse did not affect hockey champions as Slovakia has still proven that it deserves international recognition in NHL drafts. Slovakia has also produced one of the best NHL players of all time, such as Miroslav Satan who managed to score 363 goals and 372 assists in his entire career, which saw him landing a space to play for Bratislava, the only Slovakian team in Russia’s KHL in 2015. His other achievements include participating in Hockey Olympic championships as a member of the Slovakia national team.
Lastly, you might also want to consider Norway, a mountainous European country that no one expects to produce top-notch hockey players, who can have a big impact on the NHL. In the last decade alone, there are about five skaters from Norway who did not only do great, but also set a record, leaving other countries aspiring to compete. These notable names include Jonas Holøs, who played for the Colorado Avalanches, being the sixth Norwegian player ever to grace the NHL. Others include Patrick Thoresen, who was featured on the Edmonton Oilers for the 2006-2007 season, and Mats Zuccarello, who has been with the New York Rangers and Minnesota.