1. Henrik Karlsson (2014-present; Avangard, Jokerit, Barys) — 283 games, 145 wins, 26 shutouts
2. Magnus Hellberg (2017-present; Kunlun Red Star, SKA) — 123 games, 63 wins, 19 shutouts
3. Lars Johansson (2017-present; CSKA) — 75 games, 55 wins, 22 shutouts
4. Jhonas Enroth (2017-2020; Dinamo Minsk) — 134 games, 39 wins, 7 shutouts
5. Niklas Svedberg (2015-2017; Salavat Yulaev) — 125 games, 54 wins, 6 shutouts
Now a fixture with Barys, Henrik Karlsson was first hired in the KHL by Avangard for their playoffs push in 2014. Avangard failed to make the postseason, yet Karlsson earned himself a contract with Jokerit. The goalie will play two years in Helsinki as the franchise’s starting netminder. It’s interesting to note that Karlsson made it to the Swedish national team at the Euro Hockey Tour in all these three years but never made the IIHF World Championship roster. This may seem just a trivia fact, but it led to the Kazakhstani hockey federation, offering him to be part of their national team once he signed with Barys. In Kazakhstan, Karlsson positioned himself as the undisputed starter right away. After playing 56 games in his first season, the veteran goalie accepted to represent Kazakhstan on the international stage, lining up several times in IIHF competitions. Karlsson is the only netminder originally from Sweden to have won more than 100 games in the KHL.
If he goes on at this pace, Magnus Hellberg may challenge Karlsson’s numbers soon. The SKA goalie is still a long way down the road, yet he can climb up nicely next year as he will most likely start for the Armymen between the piping. The 29-years-old goalie is under contract with SKA for another two years as he renewed his ties with St. Petersburg in 2019. The towering netminder — at the time still representing Kunlun Red Star — represented the Tre Kronor at the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, albeit he didn’t play any game.
Lars Johansson played fewer games than any goalie in this list, but his numbers are nothing short than impressive. He recorded only four shutouts less than Karlsson, but he played only a little more than a quarter of his games! Playing with CSKA has its advantages, but it wouldn’t be honest to think that his numbers are only fruit of his team’s work. Johansson always provided solid goaltending at home and won the SHL title in 2016 with Frolunda. In his three years in the KHL, he solidly backed up Ilya Sorokin for the Red Army, and in the 2020-2021 campaign, he may finally have a chance to become CSKA’s starting netminder.
Jhonas Enroth’s case is something similar to the opposite of Johansson’s. The native of Stockholm always provided excellent goaltending, but Dinamo Minsk’s performance has always been subpar, and in his last two years, he finished the season elsewhere. However, he managed to blank the opposition seven times, even if Dinamo never qualified for the postseason. Enroth, who played for Tre Kronor at the 2018 Olympic Games, played more than 150 NHL games in his career and helped Sweden win the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Championships. With Dinamo, he showed excellent poise, fantastic stamina, and exceptional resilience. For the next year, the veteran is under contract in Sweden, but maybe he will have another stint in the KHL as he’s still relatively young at his 32.
Niklas Svedberg played only two seasons in the KHL, but he was often terrific — especially in his debut year. In the 2016 playoffs, he helped Salavat Yulaev reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals, when they lost to the eventual champion, Metallurg. The next year, Svedberg lost some consistency, yet he added another 15 wins and a shutout to his resume. Salavat Yulaev suffered from a first-round exit, but Svedberg managed to win a North America contract for the next year. The veteran netminder will play at home in Sweden for the 2020-2021 campaign.
In the early days of the KHL, Mikael Tellqvist was one of the league’s best Swedish goalies. He initially played for Ak Bars Kazan, but then had two stints with Dinamo Riga, playing three seasons in Latvia and reaching the playoffs twice. Tellqvist retired in 2017. Anders Nilsson played only one season in the league — in 2014-2015 with Ak Bars — but accumulated an impressive eleven shutouts, six of them in the playoffs. However, that season the Tatarstan franchise surrendered to SKA in its third Gagarin Cup finals. Nilsson currently plays in the National Hockey League.
1. Staffan Kronwall (2011-2020, Severstal, Lokomotiv) — 553 games, 220 points, 59 goals, 161 assists
2. Patrik Hersley (2014-2020, Sibir, Lokomotiv, SKA, Spartak) — 340 games, 190 points, 74 goals, 116 assists
3. Tobias Viklund (2013-2020, Avtomobilist, Lada, Kunlun, Yugra, Spartak) — 309 games, 98 points, 33 goals, 65 assists
4. Erik Gustafsson (2014-2015, Avangard; 2016-2018, Avangard, Neftekhimik) — 180 games, 73 points, 11 goals, 62 assists
5. David Rundblad (2017-present, SKA, HC Sochi) — 139 games, 47 points, 14 goals, 33 assists
6. Niclas Andersen, 168 games
One of the few international players to captain a KHL team for multiple seasons, Staffan Kronwall enjoyed enormous success with Lokomotiv. However, he was first hired in Russia by Severstal. Kronwall had his best season in 2017-2018 when he had a career-high of 35 (10+25) points and was an alternate captain for the Tre Kronor at the South Korea Olympics. He played another two years with the Railwaymen, but his production dropped to only 9 (1+8) points in his final season. After nine seasons, two appearances at the All-Star Game, and more than 550 games in the KHL, Kronwall called it a career in March.
One of the most potent shots in the league, Patrik Hersley first came to the KHL with Sibir Novosibirsk in 2014. After his inaugural season in the league, he moved to Lokomotiv, where he didn’t manage to play his best hockey. He played 68 games with the Railwaymen, then moved to SKA. On the Neva river’s shores, he found his old shape and restarted causing havoc among the opposition goalies. In 2017, he helped SKA lifting the Gagarin Cup, scoring more than a point per game in the playoffs. The three-time KHL All-Star didn’t renew his ties with the St. Petersburg franchise in 2019, moving to Spartak. Hersley was once again excellent in the offensive zone. Playing an organized system magistrally led by Oleg Znarok behind the bench, he netted eight goals in the regular season, joined by another three in only six postseason games. The veteran blueliner is waiting for offers for the upcoming 2020-2021 seasons.
Less flashy than Hersley and Kronwall, Tobias Viklund offered reliability and physical presence in the defensive end. A real globetrotter, Viklund played in Moscow, Togliatti, Yekaterinburg, and Khanty-Mansiysk, other than in China, Germany, and his native Sweden. Viklund surpassed the 300-game mark playing with Spartak and his fellow countryman Hersley. He’s currently a free agent, but it won’t be a surprise if the fans will have a chance to see him lining up for a KHL team again in the next season.
One of the most appreciated Swedish defensemen in Europe midway through the 2010s, Erik Gustafsson had his first stint in the KHL in the 2014-2015 campaign, when he made the All-Star Game. The Tre Kronor was nothing short than excellent for Omsk, but somewhat surprisingly left the team and signed in Switzerland for the next year. Back in Russia in 2016, he failed to make the same impression he made in his first season with the Hawks. However, he maintained a positive plus/minus rating also once traded to Neftekhimik in 2017. After finishing the 2017-2018 campaign in Nizhnekamsk, he returned to Sweden, where he is set to continue playing next season.
David Rundblad was signed to the KHL with a resume similar to Gustafsson’s — he also played several seasons in the NHL before returning home. He originally signed with SKA, where he played two seasons and a half, then was moved to HC Sochi. On the Black Sea’s shores, Rundblad became a key player and had a more prominent role within the team than St. Petersburg. He’s set to continue with Sochi next year — maybe he’ll gain enough time on ice to convince the national team’s staff to call him back to the IIHF World Championship ten years after his first and only participation?
Veteran D-man Niclas Andersen was never a gifted scorer, but always offered excellent defensive and skating skills wherever he played. He first signed in the KHL with Severstal and lined up for Avtomobilist and Jokerit in three different stints in the league. His 168 career games are the fifth-ever among Swedish defensemen.
1. Linus Omark (2009-2010, Dynamo Moscow; 2014-2020, Jokerit, Salavat Yulaev) — 476 games, 429 points, 124 goals, 305 assists
2. Tony Martensson (2008-2009, Ak Bars; 2010-2015, SKA) — 409 games, 295 points, 106 goals, 189 assists
3. Linus Videll (2011-present, Yugra, Severstal, Dinamo Riga, Torpedo, Kunlun, Traktor, Barys) — 433 games, 274 points, 97 goals, 177 assists
4. Andre Petersson (2014-present, HC Sochi, Avangard, Barys, Dynamo Moscow) — 304 games, 242 points, 121 goals, 121 assists
5. Mattias Weinhandl (2008-2012, Dynamo Moscow, SKA) — 236 games, 209 points, 90 goals, 119 assists
Only a few forwards had an impact as significant as what Linus Omark had for the league. Limpa came to the KHL very young, in 2009, when he signed a one-year deal with his friend Johan Harju. However, the two had different career paths. Omark didn’t manage to deliver in the NHL, yet he became one of the best players ever in Salavat Yulaev history and one of the players for whom spectators flood the gates. Unfortunately for the fans, Omark decided to move elsewhere and signed in Switzerland for the next two seasons. The three-time KHL All-Star never had a chance to play in the Gagarin Cup’s grand finals.
Different from Omark, Tony Martensson managed to lift the cup twice. The first triumph came with Ak Bars, in the KHL inaugural season. A few years down the road, in 2015, and he won his second Gagarin Cup with SKA. One of the best playmakers in the league for his times, and a three-time All-Star, Martensson just called it a career.
Next year, Linus Videll will have great chances to overcome Martensson in these rankings as the veteran recently signed a new deal in Kazakhstan. Videll got a taste of almost all KHL countries from inside, as he played in Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and Latvia. Moreover, he also signed a contract with Donbass Donetsk before the team had to retreat from the league. However, he first tried the KHL playing in Khanty-Mansiysk. “I needed a new challenge,” Videll told Torpedo’s official site in 2015. “I wanted to try my luck playing at a new level and having a chance to observe and explore new countries. I think that moving to Russia was one of the best decisions I ever took. I’m not talking about money — I wanted to really understand how things are without resorting to stereotypes or the press.” Videll is some 20 points off Martensson — he has a great chance to surpass him in the 2020-2021 campaign.
One of the most dangerous scorers in the latest few seasons, Andre Petersson is the KHL’s second-ever scorer coming from Sweden, having scored 121 goals in 304 games. Petersson was productive for any team he played with, and a real sniper with a fantastic shot. And for the next year, he will rejoin with Andrei Skabelka in Yaroslavl. The duo already worked together in Barys in 2018-2019. Now, the two are supposed to do some damage in Yaroslavl.
In the KHL’s early years, not so many players were as productive as Mattias Weinhandl. The veteran forward played in the league’s first four seasons close to the point-per-game ideal average. However, despite all this success, he never had a deep run in the playoffs — Dynamo and SKA were yet to form their dynasties. Unfortunately, Weinhandl had to retire quite early, in 2014, due to multiple injuries.
Two of the most productive Swedish players ever are veterans Richard Gynge and Martin Thornberg. Gynge will be more recorded for his goal-scoring ability, and Thornberg for being one of the best players in 2014’s HC Lev — they went just one game to the Gagarin Cup triumph and are the (so far) only non-Russian team ever to reach the grand finals.
For the purposes of this series, players who took a second nationality after moving to the KHL are counted according to their nationality when the first joined the league.