Hockey is a team sport that requires its players to be brutally strong, highly accurate, and skilled on ice. It is no shocker that some of the great National Hockey League players were born in the Great White North, famous for maple syrup and even more famous for the cold winters and abundant ice. Though, not everyone who plays hockey professionally grew up skating on frozen lakes as a young child or even in a cold climate. Plenty of players were born in hot, humid Southern United States where ice is rarer than unsweetened tea. Even then, there are NHL players from outside of North America. Determined to make names for themselves, many of these players from countries such as Sweden, Czech, and Switzerland migrated to the United States with the hope of playing professionally for the NHL. The bottom line is that while successful players come from all corners of the world, it is not where they are from that determines their level of success. Those who put in the hard work and dedicate their time to their sport and to their team are the ones who become nationally, and often internationally as well, recognized by the NHL.
20 Outside the US: Tyler Seguin
He might live to be on the Dallas Stars team now, but Seguin was originally from Brampton, Ontario. As a junior, he played hockey with Plymouth in the Ontario Hockey League. While he is now famous for his excellent ability to score points and goals, it began when he scored 69 goals and 173 points between only 124 games in his youth. This carried him over to his NHL career with the Boston Bruins until the Dallas Stars acquired him in 2013. Seguin plays center and works closely with his teammate Jamie Benn, left wing player. Within his first five years with the Dallas team, he averaged over 34 goals and roughly 77 points.
19 Outside the US: P.K. Subban
According to NHL, Subban is one of the top defensemen. He might play defense for the Nashville Predators now, but he played for the Montreal Canadiens from 2007 until 2016 when he was traded to the predators for Shea Weber. Born in Toronto, Ontario, he began his hockey career playing for Belleville of the Ontario Hockey League and assisting Canada in winning a gold medal at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship. For the 2012 - 2013 season, he was awarded the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the League’s top defenseman. In 2017, the Predators qualified for the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since joining the NHL 19 years prior.
18 Outside the US: Sidney Crosby
The highly decorated NHL Pittsburgh Penguins player began life in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Not only is he fearless on the ice, but he’s also a quick-thinking center player. One could say that being a fantastic hockey player is in his blood—his father played goaltender as a junior and narrowly missed being selected for the Montreal Canadiens in 1984. Crosby has been wearing skates since he was three years old and playing organized hockey since he was five. In 2009, he became the youngest captain to win the Stanley cup at merely 21 years old. Then, two years in a row, he won the Cup title back to back in 2016 and 2017.
17 Outside the US: Elias Lindholm
Despite his American-style strong jaw, Lindholm was born in Boden, Sweden. Lindholm’s family is hockey-oriented. His father, Mikael, was also a skilled hockey player who was in the Swedish Elite League and played 18 games with the Los Angeles Kings throughout 1989 and 1990. His brother, Oliver, plays in the Swedish third division, and his cousin, Calle Jarnkrok, plays for the Nashville Predators. Lindholm started off his pre-professional career by assisting Sweden in cinching two silver medals—one in 2012 and one in 2013 at the Junior World Championships—and a gold medal at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. As a professional, he began playing for the Carolina Hurricanes. During the 2017-2018 season, he pulled off 16 goals and 44 points, and he was traded to the Calgary Flames with defenseman Noah Hanifin in 2018.
16 Outside the US: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Ekman-Larsson is from Karlskrona, Sweden originally, where he played for the Leksands of the Swedish second division and earned 17 points within 39 games. In 2010, he moved to America where he played the season for both the Phoenix Coyotes and San Antonio of the American Hockey League. He plays particularly skilled defense for the Coyotes, and first appeared at the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2012. In addition, he’s won two silver medals with Sweden at the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2011 World Championship. He also earned two bronze medals at the 2010 World Juniors and 2010 World Championship.
15 Outside the US: Brent Seabrook
Seabrook’s rugged looks stem from his British Columbian heritage. Prior to his professional career in the NHL, Seabrook played for Canada in the World Junior Championship in 2004 and 2005, securing a gold medal in 2005. He also played in the Western Hockey League with Lethbridge between 2000 and 2005. In 2003, he was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2003 and his defense has played a vital role in winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, 2012, and 2014. According to NHL, he has is famed for being a clutch player in the postseason. Seabrook was also one of seven NHL defensemen to have more than 100 hits and blocked shots in the 2012 – 2013 season. In 2015, he became the fifth defenseman in the history of NHL to have played 800 games.
14 Outside the US: Evander Kane
27-year-old Kane has been playing organized hockey since he was fifteen when his local, hometown association, Vancouver of the Western Hockey League, signed him. He assisted Vancouver in winning the Memorial Cup during the 2006 – 2007 season, and he qualified for the Jim Piggott Memorial Award for the top rookie. In 2009, the Atlanta Thrashers selected Kane, where he became the youngest 30-goal scorer that season. After his 100th NHL goal in 2014, Kane was traded to the Buffalo Sabres until an injury to his shoulder stuck him on the bench until October of 2015. His impressive 28 goals in the 2016 – 2017 season led to him being traded to the San Jose Sharks in early 2018.
13 Outside the US: Derick Brassard
Despite his Quebec roots, his NHL career began in Columbus, Ohio, when the Blue Jackets recruited him in 2006. Brassard turned heads with his skills for Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when he scored 44 goals and 116 points in the 2005 – 2006 season. During six seasons with the Jackets, he didn’t quite live up to his name and only produced 58 goals and 169 points throughout nearly 310 games. In 2013, Brassard was traded to the Rangers, and he accompanied the team to the Stanley Cup Final. In 2016, Brassard played in the World Championships in Russia, earning a gold medal.
12 Outside the US: Jaromir Jagr
45-year-old holds an impressive number of awards throughout his career including having won the Stanley Cup twice. Originally from Kladno, Czech, has been skating since he was 3 years old and has been incorporating a fitness regime to improve his game since he was 5. In 1990, he was first drafted into the NHL and has played for Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, and the Czech Republic. Even at his age, he is incredibly strong on the ice and his experience does nothing but heighten his game. He has led the NHL in scoring for four consecutive years, a rare honor that takes significant skill to obtain.
11 Outside the US: Roman Josi
Josi has been making huge strides from a young age. At 17, he became one of four players his age to play in Switzerland’s top division in the 2007 – 2008 season. He tied for team lead in points at the 2008 Under-18 World Championship. In 2009, he was named top defenseman at the IIHF Division I World Junior Championship in which Switzerland took top honors. In 2008, the Nashville Predators drafted him into the NHL and debuted in 2011. In his first game, he blocked 98 shots. Since then, he has continued to excel in his professional career. In the 2017 – 2018 season alone, he finished with 53 points over 75 games.
10 Inside the US: Auston Matthews
A forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs was only drafted in 2016 and he has already made history with his United States-native born skills. Despite being born in Scottsdale, Arizona, an area known for the opposite of ice, he was the number one pick in the 2016 NHL draft, where Toronto Maple Leafs managed to acquire him. During his first game, he scored four goals, which was the first time a player in the NHL had accomplished such a bombshell debut in decades. In the 2016 – 2017 season, he earned the Calder Trophy last year when he scored 40 goals, 69 points, and 279 shots. All of those achievements shattered records for NHL rookies from America.
9 Inside the US: Johnny Gaudreau
According to the NHL, Gaudreau was baptized on the ice by following a Hansel and Gretel style trail of skittles left by his father, Guy, while he worked as a hockey director in New Jersey. He attended Boston College as a student-athlete and won the Hobey Baker Award in 2014. From there, he played in the international circuit and claimed a gold medal for the United States in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Tournament. Calgary Flames snatched him up in 2011 and debuted him in the 2013 – 2014 season. He scored a goal during his first game and went on to become a finalist for the Calder Trophy as a top NHL rookie with 24 goals during the 2014 – 2015 season.
8 Inside the US: Brock Boeser
The Burnsville, Minnesota, native is famous for his accuracy and shooting ability. He played for the University of North Dakota during his college career, where he scored 34 points over 32 games as a sophomore. In 2015, the Vancouver Canucks drafted him in 2015. During nine games with Vancouver in the 2016 – 2017 season, Boeser scored four goals. Within his first three games, he managed to score two goals. According to NHL, he is right on track with Trevor Linden and is set to be a particularly talented finisher. In November, he earned the title of NHL Rookie of the Month. He scored eight goals and 13 points over the course of 13 games. Before Christmas hit, he managed to increase that to 25 goals over 44 games.
7 Inside the US: Jack Eichel
This Boston bred hockey player was the second pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. In college, he was awarded the Hobey Baker Award for scoring 26 goals and 71 points within 40 games for the Boston University. His pre-professional career was highly decorated. He also won the Tim Taylor Award, was titled the top rookie and player for the Hockey East conference, MVP, and was selected as captain for the 2015 World Junior Championship, where Eichel helped the team clinch a bronze medal. During his first game playing for the Sabres in the 2015 – 2016 season, Eichel scored his first NHL goal.
6 Inside the US: Hilary Knight
Born in Palo Alto, California and grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois. She played in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. She attended University of Wisconsin and assisted her team in earning a second place in the NCAA championships during her freshman year, followed by a national championship her sophomore year. In 2009, she joined Team USA and was the youngest team member on both the men’s and women’s teams as a 20-year-old. She is a decorated hockey player with two silver medals and a gold medal from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
5 Inside the US: Meghan Duggan
From Danvers, Massachusetts, her competitive hockey career has bloomed since 2006. While she attended University of Wisconsin, she became a highly decorated player. She became the collegiate team’s leading scorer of all-time before being drafted into the Boston Blades, and eventually making her way onto the Boston Pride as a forward. Since then, she has attended many national and international competitions including the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Currently, Duggan and the United States team hold two silver medals and one gold medal from Olympic competitions. She also joined her team at the Women’s World Championships eight times and helped the team earn one silver medal and seven gold medals.
4 Inside the US: Alex Galchenyuk
Despite playing hockey in an international capacity for the Soviet Union and Belarus during his junior years, Galchenyuk was born in Milwaukee and his father, Alexander, played in the American Hockey League. When Alex was four years old, the family left the United States and went on to live in Germany, Italy, and Russia. In the 2012 – 2013 season, he helped the United States team earn a gold medal at the World Junior Championship. Canadiens drafted him in spite of a knee injury. In the 2014 – 2015 season, he hit his target of 20 goals for NHL. In doing so, he became the third youngest player to reach that mark for the Canadiens.
3 Inside the US: Dylan Larkin
In 2014, Larkin became the first teenager to be drafted into the Red Wings since Jiri Fischer in 1999. He only played one college season for University of Michigan, where he scored 47 points. Larkin grew up in Waterford, Michigan, and made a name for himself during his first NHL game in 2015. In addition to helping the Detroit Red Wings win 4 to 0 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he also managed to get a shot past renowned goaltender Jonathan Bernier. During the 2015 – 2016 season, Larkin scored five game-winning goals alone. That November, Larkin scored four goals during four back-to-back games and closed out the month with seven goals.
2 Inside the US: James van Riemsdyk
Though van Riemsdyk now plays forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was born in Middletown, New Jersey. He was drafted second in the 2007 with Patrick Kane as the first pick, and it marked the first ever time that two United States natives had been selected in the first two spots during an NHL draft. After being selected by the Philadelphia Flyers, he continued with his college career at the University of New Hampshire, scoring 28 goals and 74 points within two seasons. Throughout his NHL career, he has garnered impressive numbers, and in 2012, he was traded to Toronto, where he broke 30 goals. In the 2017 – 2018 season, he scored 36 goals.
1 Inside the US: Shayne Gostisbehere
Gostisbehere adorned the nickname “Ghost” from his teammates early in his hockey career. Though his father was French, Ghost was born and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida. At a young age, he would tag along to the ice rink with his older sister, who was learning to figure skate. Ghost began playing in the Junior Panthers youth hockey program and continued to play throughout his time at Union College. In 2012, he was drafted onto the Philadelphia Flyers—a rare feat for someone from such a southern area of the United States. During the 2015 – 2016 season, the Flyers played won a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs thanks to an overtime goal from Ghost.