4. Jari Kurri - 2x First-Team AS, 3x Second-Team AS. Led the league in goals once, 4x top-5 in goals (18th all-time in goals). 3x top-10 in assists. 6x top-10 in points (20th all-time in points). Selke finishes: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 10th. 6th all-time in shorthanded goals. Received regular AS winger voting and Lady Byng voting. 5x Champion, 7x Finalist. Kurri is incorrectly regarded as an also-ran with Gretzky, a tag should be left for Blair McDonald or even Bernie Nicholls to some extent. Kurri is one the more well-rounded players in NHL history that regularly played in all situations for his teams. His finishing ability made him valuable to Gretzky and the Oilers, he was a noted marksman that scored on over 19% of his career shots. In the Oilers five Stanley Cup wins, Kurri led the playoffs in goals four times. Scored over 100 goals in 200 playoff games. His coming out party was his performance in the pre-dynastic Oilers postseason runs, shaking off the "Euros are soft and not competitive" mantra that surrounded many at that time (I blame Inge Hammarstrom...
). Noted finisher, tenacious defensive player and all-around gentleman, Jari Kurri was one of the great ones.
5. Börje Salming - One of the pioneers of Europeans in the NHL. 1x First-Team AS, 5x Second-Team AS. Norris Trophy record: (2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 10). Hart trophy record: (4, 7). 5x Top-10 in goals among d-men. 6x Top-10 in assists AD. 6x Top-10 in points AD. 3x Viking Award Winner (best Swedish player outside Sweden). Named to early best-on-best All-Tournament Team (1976 Canada Cup). Considered one of the league's premier defensemen throughout the 1970's and 80's. The first great European-born and -trained player in the NHL. Salming had immense skill and was noted for having almost no weaknesses. He was recognized league-wide for his terrific skating and puck-rushing skills, his snappy wristshot and his adept passing skills. As a well-conditioned, strong athlete, Salming could play physically and was a great defensive player that routinely had to shutdown some of the league's best opposition. Salming was a fearless competitor that seemed to enjoy blocking shots. According to projections and print evidence from the time, Salming played in upwards of 30 minutes per night in the NHL and played at least that much during the Canada Cup (which is when he cemented his stardom). One of the finest overall d-men in history.
6. Peter Forsberg - 1x Hart Trophy winner. 3x First-Team AS. Led the league in assists once, 7x top-10 in assists. Led the league in points once, 5x top-10 in points. 2x Champion. Represented Sweden proudly in many Olympics and other best-on-best tournaments. Prominent in Hart and Selke voting. Forsberg was a terrific competitor, insanely skilled, an elite playmaker that could play rough while maintaining a strong defensive conscience. Recognized as one of the league's best players in his era. Unfortunately, injuries derailed what could have been an even more amazing career. Forsberg was limited to just 708 NHL games from 1994-95 through 2010-11. He could have been a five-time Swedish Olympian, but missed one because of injury. He could have been a multiple Hart Trophy winner, but will have to settle for one. He might have made the difference on the 2002 Avs and gotten at least one more championship, but will have to settle for two. He could have more than one 80-game seasons, he could have had multiple 30+ goal seasons, he has none, he could have been top-10 all time in assists...he's 66th (one assist behind Salming). Forsberg leaped onto the scene with his masterful shootout move in the 1994 Olympics vs. Canada. Trivia: Does anyone remember what fringe NHL goaltender that Forsberg made to reconsider his job choice on that shootout move in Lillehammer?
7. Sergei Fedorov - Hart trophy, 2x Selke winner, 1st team AS, two top-10 point finishes, multi-position player, major piece to 3 Cup wins and another runner-up finish, highest scoring Russian in NHL history, represented himself well in the first best-on-best olympics (silver), a peak that rivals Forsberg, left you wanting a tiny bit more after teasing us with that 1994 season that was one of the finest seasons in NHL history. Noted defensive force, so much so that he was moved to defense both later in his career and at times in his prime. All situation player. A mortal lock for the HHOF. His best is better than many players' best, which is noteworthy. He had the ability to be more dominant than Forsberg, faster than Bure, and take over games...it didn't always happen that way though. He narrowly misses being the #6 on this list (mainly because I don't want to hear it from Andre!
). Fedorov's coming out party and climb to stardom was reached when he took over the entire league in 1994 and made it his own personal playground.
More to follow...