News – NHL – 1,123 players, including 484 Europeans (28.6%)

National Hockey League

Absolute record

Buoyed by a new franchise (Seattle) and a league that found itself with full arenas after the pandemic, the NHL had a total of 1,123 players last season, smashing the 1,011 mark set in 2020/21 . Canada led with 484 players, or 43.1% of all players, but Europe had a total of 321 players, or 28.6%. The United States had 318, or 28.3%.

The 321 European players constitute an absolute record. Only twice before has Europe contributed 300 or more. In 2003/04 it had exactly that number, and three years ago it had 305. And since 1995/96 Europe has had more players than the USA in 21 out of 26 years, which shows a constant and essential presence in the NHL year after year.

As has been the case for the past two decades, Sweden was once again Europe’s leading supplier of players. Some 106 of them have played at least one game in the last season (9.4%), the second highest number ever after 113 in 2019/20.

In second place is Finland, with a record 63 NHL players. They had 60 last year and 30 just ten years ago, and that resurgence is reflected in their extraordinary international play. The Finns are currently in their golden years, having won three of the last four major events (2019, 2022 World Championship, 2022 Olympics) and finished second in the other (2021 World Championships). These two Nordic countries have a combined population of barely 16 million but today provide the world’s premier league with 15% of its players. Unbelievable.

The league also had 57 Russians, the highest number since 2003/04 (64). Czechia have a good representation with 39 players, which is the average of the last decade, but certainly well below their record of 80 players in 2002/03. And for the seventh consecutive year, Switzerland had more players than Slovakia (13-11), which was impossible twenty years ago, when there were 58 Slovaks and only two Swiss.

Ten other countries have also been represented consistently over the past decade or more: Germany (eight), Denmark (seven), Latvia (five), Belarus and France (three each), Austria (two), as well as Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Slovenia (one each).

Of that 1,123 total, the NHL welcomed 157 new players last season, and Europe did remarkably well, contributing some 62 spots of that total (39.5%). This figure is the second highest ever after the 65 new arrivals from Europe in the 2000/01 season.

But the comparison between this season and this one reveals very clear differences. Twenty years ago, 18 of these 65 recruits came from Czechoslovakia and 13 from Slovakia, nearly half of these two hockey hotbeds. In 21/22, on the other hand, Czechoslovakia provided only five and Slovakia only one.

For comparison, in 2000/01 Sweden had only nine, but this year it had 21, the most ever for its country and the second most ever for a European country in one season, after Russia’s 22 in 1992/93, in the first post-Perestroika season.

This percentage of 39.5% is another impressive figure. He’s only been superior twice in NHL history. In the 2000/01 season, those 65 players made up 43.9%, and in 2019/20 56 of the 116 signings were European, a whopping 48.3%. After Sweden’s historic 21 signings comes Russia with 13, the same number as in 2019/20 and the most in almost a quarter century.

Finland are third with nine, the same as last year, and eight other countries have contributed at least one player to the rookie pool – Germany (three, tied with 2010/11 and 2014/15 for most never reached); Belarus, Denmark, Switzerland (all with two); Austria, France, Latvia, Slovakia (one).

In North America, Canada led with 60 recruits, or 38.2% of the total, and the United States had 35, or 22.2%.

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