April 6, 2020

All Time Swedish Born NY Rangers

Tomas Sandstrom (Getty Images)

As you continue to try and find new and creative ways to pass the time for the duration of your stay-at-home quarantine, we here at Forever Blueshirts have been “travelling the world” profiling some of the better Ranger players by nationality. Today, we hop on our proverbial airplane, and visit the country known for meatballs, pickled herring and IKEA. Yes, we will list our best players who hail from that Scandinavian paradise, Sweden.

Starting in goal (as if there was any doubt)

Ovechkin and Lundqvist (NYDN)

Num-ber Thir-ty Hen-Rik Lund-Qvist (thank you Joe Tolleson)! Come on, did you really didn’t think we’d have Johan Holmqvist or Magnus Hellberg as our Ranger Team Sweden primary net-minder? What more can you say about “The King” that hasn’t already been said? The greatest goalie (and arguably, greatest player) in franchise history and future Hall-Of-Famer owns virtually every meaningful record for those brave souls whose job it is to stare down 100Mph slap shots on a routine basis. It remains to be seen whether or not Lundqvist has played his final game wearing his familiar number 30 in the red, white and blue uniform. If the ramifications from the Covid-19 Virus causes Lundqvist to hang up his goalie pads a year earlier than expected, Rangerstown will certainly give him a full-throated, tear-jerking send off as his jersey gets raised to the iconic Garden rafters. Lundqvist is, and always will be, the epitome of Ranger royalty

Starting on defense, Number 5 Ulf Samuelsson

Samuelsson(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

True confession: There was no more despised antagonist for me as a teenage Blueshirt fan in the late 1980s and early 1990s than Ulf Samuelsson. Never was there a player I wanted to inflict harm on more if we encountered on a public city street. Then, in the summer of 1995, much to my utter shock, dismay and despair, my Public Enemy #1 was to wear the sacred colors of my beloved hockey team.

Never was there a player that changed my opinion of him more than number 5. From the instance he first suited up for the Rangers until the day he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings four years later, Samuelsson was nothing short of a warrior. Ulfie sacrificed life and limb, game in and game out, to help his team try and achieve victory. Samuelsson’s viscountess and relentlessness were on full display during the Blueshirt’s Cinderella run to the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals.

Also on defense, number 6, Anton Stralman

The native of Tibro, Sweden gets grouped in the “One’s that got away department.” The organization decided to not resign the slick-skating, positionally sound, right-handed defenseman in favor of the way-over-the-hill Dan Boyle. Stralman was a key defender on the 2014 Eastern Conference Championship squad and the franchise’s egregious decision not to offer him a new contract remains a thorn-in-the-side of the Garden Faithful

On left wing, number 20 Jan Erixon

Jan Erixon (Getty Images)

Jan Erixon A.K.A. “The Shadow” spent each of his ten-year NHL career with the Rangers. The native of Skelleftea, Sweden was not known for offensive production amassing just 216 points in his 556 games. No, the role given to #20 was to shadow and smother and shut down some of the most gifted and talented players the world of hockey had ever seen. Whether it was Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Denis Savard…you name it and Erixon followed them all over the ice attempting to accomplish the near-impossible. Other Ranger Swedes may have been flashier and other Ranger Swedes may have lit the lamp with more frequency. However, Erixon’s uncanny ability to stifle one future Hall-of-Famer after another makes him a shoe-in for our all time Swedish Ranger squad.

At center, number 93, Mika Zibanejad

Mika Zibanejad (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

The People’s Captain. The Franchise. Magic Mika. Choose whichever adjective and superlative you’d like, the Garden Faithful has gleefully watched Zibanejad morph into a bonafide superstar right in front of their very eyes. Whether it’s five goal games, clutch overtime/shootout goals, key defensive plays or overall outstanding play, the native of Huddinge, Sweden, with the Iranian ancestry, is now the face of the franchise and will assuredly be named the next Captain of the New York Rangers once the health officials give the green light for sports leagues to start up again.

On right wing, number 28 Tomas Sandstrom

Our learned and knowledgeable Forever Blueshirts readers are well aware that Sandstrom was in fact born in Finland. However, the jersey in which he played all of his international competitions in is the yellow and blue Tre Kronor which makes him eligible for our hypothetical Swedish Ranger team. Sandstrom was a dynamite goal scorer, an agitator, and a vital player on the 1986 Rangers Final Four squad. While Sandstrom may be most known for being the recipient of Flyers goon Dave Brown’s viscous and borderline criminal cross check to the throat in 1987 (search for the video on YouTube if you don’t believe me), his dynamic play in his six year Ranger career has earned him a spot on our list of top Swedish players.

Honorary mention: Ulf Nilsson, Jesper Fast, Carl Hagelin, Niklas Sundstrom, Ulf Dahlen, and Anders Hedberg. P.S. If what we hear about Nils Lundkvist is true he should be on this list by his third season.

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