While the Habs have had a strong international presence over the years, there haven’t been too many impact players from Sweden. Nevertheless, here is Montreal’s top all-time Swedish line as voted by our readers.
Mats Naslund (99.2% of votes): Well, this one was kind of obvious, wasn’t it? He was a near point-per-game player over eight seasons with the Habs and produced at a similar rate in the postseason including the 1986 playoffs where he led the team in scoring to help them win the Stanley Cup. He also picked up the Lady Byng Trophy back in 1987-88. Naslund opted to play overseas (in Switzerland and Sweden) after the 1989-90 season before making one last push in the NHL with Boston in 1994-95 but most voters didn’t hold that against him.
Canadiens Stats: 617 GP, 243 goals, 369 assists, 612 points, +123 rating, 107 PIMS, 1,312 shots
Kjell Dahlin (76.3% of votes): His time with the Habs (and the NHL in general) was rather limited but Dahlin played an important role on that 1986 Cup-winning squad, picking up 71 points in 77 games in his rookie campaign which made him a Calder Trophy finalist in the process. However, after two seasons mired by injury following that great debut, he returned home and eventually retired early, hanging up his skates for good at the age of 31. He was never really able to build off that first year but it was quite a memorable first season nonetheless.
Canadiens Stats: 166 GP, 57 goals, 59 assists, 116 points, +11 rating, 10 PIMS, 276 shots
Andreas Dackell (39.1% of votes): Andre Savard didn’t make many strong trades during his tenure as Montreal’s GM but snatching up Dackell for an eighth-round pick was one of them. The winger wasn’t flashy but he was a reliable checker and played an important role on their 2001-02 squad that made it to the second round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, his production dipped after that which soon ended his NHL days. Dackell spent three years with Montreal before heading home to spend eight years with Brynas before calling it a career. (And on a random side note, the player picked with the selection the Habs traded for Dackell – Neil Petruic – wrapped up his professional career in Montreal’s system with Hamilton.)
Canadiens Stats: 212 GP, 26 goals, 44 assists, 70 points, even rating, 58 PIMS, 207 shots
Just Missed the Cut: Niklas Sundstrom
Peter Popovic (88.5% of votes): Admittedly, pickings were pretty slim in this section as none of the options were all that notable. Popovic at least managed to hang around for a little while. Although he didn’t join the Habs until five years after he was drafted, he immediately made the jump when he signed and spent five seasons with Montreal, primarily on the third pairing. He was never much of an offensive threat but he was serviceable and with how few Swedish defenders the Habs have had, serviceable is more than enough to get top billing here.
Canadiens Stats: 303 GP, 7 goals, 48 assists, 55 points, +24 rating, 173 PIMS, 262 shots
Douglas Murray (62.8% of votes): Let the record reflect that on this day, Murray found himself in a ‘Best of’ category for the Habs and it wasn’t completely sarcastic. The Habs were looking for some size and grit on the back end in 2013 and while Murray’s stock had started to fall from his best days in San Jose when he was in his prime, he was coming off an okay showing in the playoffs with Pittsburgh. On the surface, he looked like a possible depth upgrade. The results weren’t as pretty. He hit a lot of people and blocked a lot of shots but a lot of that was because when he was on the ice, the Habs were usually caught in their own end. It was one and done for Murray but that’s still enough to get the second spot on this pairing.
Canadiens Stats: 53 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -12 rating, 42 PIMS, 26 shots
Just Missed the Cut: Christian Folin
Christopher Heino-Lindberg (56.4% of votes): Pickings were really slim here as both goalies on the list (Lars Eriksson was the other) were drafted by the Habs but never came to North America. Heino-Lindberg was able to get to the SHL level briefly but that’s as far as he progressed. He eventually decided to change careers, retiring at the age of 26 to try his hand at country music and resurfaced as a goalie coach for AIK this past season, the team he finished up his playing days with.
Be sure to check back Monday for our next poll which will focus on Montreal’s Russians.