|Mr. Islander is from Stockholm.|
This week, Islanders Op-Timism has taken on its own series, expanding on Yahoo's "League of Nations." Rather than pick a best player from each major hockey country for the Islanders, though, Isles Op-Timism is taking a look at each of the main hockey-influenced countries, and the best players from those countries to ever wear the Islanders' sweater.
Our first part of this series acknowledged a few of the 17 most notable Russian skaters to ever call the Nassau Coliseum "home." On Tuesday, we took a closer look at an even smaller group of skaters in Isles history - Finland-born players.
Right off the bat, Kenny Jonsson comes to mind when I think of the Swedes that have played for the New York Islanders. One of the steadiest defensemen to ever pass through Long Island, Jonsson, as his former defensive partner Adrian Aucoin described him, "never made mistakes." A quiet leader, Kenny Jonsson is the only Islanders player from the 2000s to be inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. No matter how much we loved Kenny Jonsson, though, he wasn't the best Swede in Islanders history - perhaps not even top-2.
A lot of us forget or never realized, but Bobby Nystrom, with his #23 raised to the rafters, was born in Stockholm, Sweden. As B.D. Gallof stated on Yahoo's Puck Daddy, "the guy was clutch, tenacious, scrappy, all heart, and left it all on the ice."
In 900 games for the Islanders, Nystrom recorded 235 goals and 513 points. With four Stanley Cups to his name, and a Cup-clinching goal under his belt, Bobby Nystrom was dubbed Mr. Islander. No other Swede comes close to Bobby Nystrom in Islanders franchise history.
OK, but so what? That doesn't mean we can't appreciate some of the other Swedes that called the Coliseum their home arena.
And because we mentioned Kenny Jonsson as one of the best defensemen to pass through Long Island, we obviously cannot dismiss Stefan Persson, either. Like Nystrom, Persson won four Stanly Cups with the Islanders. Persson also played 622 games for the Islanders, only behind Nystrom in this group of Sweden-born skaters. The 369 points he accumulated as a member of the Islanders also sits behind only Bobby Nystrom.
There was also Anders Kallur, who also won four Stanley Cups with Islanders. Kallur played six seasons in the NHL (all with the Islanders), accumulating 101 goals and 211 points , which included a 36 goal season in 1980-81.
In terms of goaltending, Tommy Salo is the most notable Swede to appear in the crease for the Islanders. Salo played his first 187 NHL games for Long Island's hockey team, recording 88 wins before he was traded to Edmonton for fellow Swede Mats Lindgren, who never became what the Islanders had hoped.
So, who are the next "great" Swedes to call themselves "Islanders"? David Ullstrom, well-liked by many Islanders fans, left the Isles for the KHL. In Bridgeport, Anders Nilsson, who has 1 NHL shutout, looks to be the starting goaltender for the Sound Tigers, while Johan Sundstrom and John Persson continue to make up two-thirds of their forward-line at Webster Bank Arena. In the pipeline, Viktor Crus Rydberg looks to develop overseas.
Like I've said in our past two editions of "Around The World," only time will tell until the Islanders find the next Swede to make an impact on Long Island, but out of the two countries we have covered so far, Sweden has given the Islanders the most value.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!