The 2022-23 NHL campaign is already providing fans with plenty of twists and turns on the ice, making for what promises to be another exciting and thrilling Regular Season, before the final standings dictate which teams will participate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And just like many other major league sports, keen hockey followers are now blessed with an abundance of statistical data, making the highest level of competition more interactive than ever before. But how much do you know about the origins of the NHL players themselves?
Given the NHL is the pinnacle of professional ice hockey across North America, the majority of players hail from the two principal countries of this region, with 42% from Canada and 27.5% from the United States. The remaining 30.5% joined the NHL from overseas, but which countries provide the largest proportion of player imports?
Ice hockey is hugely popular across the whole Scandinavian region of Europe, although no country boasts a greater level of direct participation than Sweden, which provides the biggest percentage of overseas imports to the NHL. This is based upon current statistical data provided by QuantHockey.
During the 2022-23 NHL season, there are 91 Swedish players representing different franchises, while they also account for 10.6% of the total current active players. This is by far the largest proportion of overseas players featuring in the NHL, which inevitably means the NHL boasts an impressive following in Sweden.
Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was a healthy movement of athletes between Russia and North America, and vice-versa. However, along with economic and political sanctions levied on Russia by most countries in the western world, sports have also been impacted.
Nevertheless, the number of Russian players in the NHL remains quite healthy, with 51 currently active professional hockey players registered at franchises, accounting for 5.9% of the overall number hailing from overseas. If the conflict in Europe continues, those numbers could potentially reduce further.
After their national team won gold at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, beating the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team 2-1 in the tournament final, Finland also tops the current International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men’s World Ranking. For this reason alone, given the quality of talents emerging from the country, many have joined NHL franchises.
For the 2022-23 season, there are currently 44 active players from Finland in the NHL, which also accounts for 5.1% of the overall total of registered players. Assuming that Finland continues to produce such talented players, whilst also continuing to prove their hard-earned status on the international stage, we can assume that many more will join the NHL over time.
Despite currently being ranked 7th in the IIHF Men’s World Ranking, and as one of the founding member countries of that organization since way back in 1908, the Czech Republic is unofficially considered to be one of the “Big Six” ice hockey nations.
Due to the location of Switzerland, land-locked within the mountainous Alps, participation in winter sports forms a traditional part of the national culture. The Swiss were also amongst the founding members of the IIHF, which means they also have a cherished ice hockey history, one that has continued to grow in popularity over the years.
But the Swiss also enjoy wagering on a wide range of sports, means that searching to find the best betting sites in Switzerland becomes increasingly important for punters there, aided by the latest expert guides via SBO which cover every angle. And given there are currently 12 Swiss players in the NHL, that competition is increasingly attracting attention, due to accounting for 1.4% of the total registered players.
Now that we know the most sizeable proportions of overseas players in the NHL, what about the rest? Well, there are currently 18 different nationalities represented amongst the 2022-23 season totals, and we already know the top 7 contributors, which means there are 31 players who hail from elsewhere, forming 3.5% of the overall total.
These players hail from Germany (8), Slovakia (7), Latvia (4), Denmark (4), and Belarus (2). Meanwhile, the remaining numbers are from Australia, Slovenia, Norway, Netherlands, France, and Austria, who all provide just one player apiece. In their collective combination, these overseas players form one of the most diverse range of nationalities, anywhere amongst professional North American sporting competitions.