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First National Hockey League Player by Country 2024

The National Hockey League, also known as the NHL, is an organization of hockey teams. Teams on the NHL are based in Canada and the United States. The NHL was formed in 1917, and at that time was made up of four Canadian teams. The first US team to enter the NHL was the Boston Bruins, which was added in 1924. The NHL's championship trophy is the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup represents world supremacy in ice hockey.

First National Hockey League Player by Country

The National Hockey League has had players from 46 different countries. The list below displays the first player born in each country to play in the National Hockey League, starting from the league's beginnings in 1917. The only country not represented in this list includes Canada, because all but one participant in the first NHL game were born in Canada.

What Percentage of NHL Players Are Not American?

Over 75% of players for the National Hockey League (NHL) are non-American. Canadian players are represented the most in the NHL.

How Many Teams Compete in the NHL Today?

League membership started at 4 teams in 1917, rose to 10, and then dropped to six in 1942. These six teams remained the only six teams through 1967. Today, the NHL consists of 32 teams.

Notes:
- This list displayed the first player born in each country to play in the National Hockey League (NHL), whose teams are based in the United States and Canada.
- Players who were the first citizens of a given country to play in the NHL but who were not born in that country are not listed.
- Players born in a country that no longer exists will be listed with whatever country their birthplace is now located in.

Download Table Data

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Country
Name
Debut Season
AustraliaNathan Walker2017–18
AustriaReinhard Divis2001–02
BahamasAndre Deveaux2008–09
BelarusJohn Miszuk1963–64
BelgiumJan Benda1997–98
BrazilMike Greenlay1989–90
BruneiCraig Adams2000–01
BulgariaAlexandar Georgiev2017–18
CanadaMultiple: all but one participant of the first NHL game were Canadian born1917–18
CroatiaGoran Bezina2003–04
Czech RepublicJaroslav Jirik1969–70
DenmarkPoul Popiel1965–66
EstoniaLeo Komarov2012–13
FinlandAlbert Pudas1926–27
FranceAndre Peloffy1974–75
GermanyWalt Tkaczuk1967–68
HaitiClaude Vilgrain1987–88
IndonesiaRichie Regehr2005–06
IrelandJack Riley1932–33
ItalyNelson DeBenedet1973–74
JamaicaGraeme Townshend1989–90
JapanYutaka Fukufuji2006–07
KazakhstanKonstantin Shafranov1996–97
LatviaCharlie Cotch1924–25
LebanonEd Hatoum1968–69
LithuaniaDarius Kasparaitis1992–93
NetherlandsEd Kea1973–74
NigeriaRumun Ndur1996–97
NorwayBill Johansen1949–50
ParaguayWilli Plett1975–76
PolandJoe Jerwa1930–31
RussiaSweeney Schriner1934–35
SerbiaStan Smrke1956–57
SlovakiaStan Mikita1958–59
SloveniaAnze Kopitar2006–07
South AfricaOlaf Kolzig1989–90
South KoreaJim Paek1990–91
SwedenGus Forslund1932–33
SwitzerlandMark Hardy1979–80
TaiwanRod Langway1978–79
TanzaniaChris Nielsen2000–01
UkraineVic Hoffinger1927–28
United KingdomJoe Hall1917–18
United StatesGeorge Geran1917–18
UzbekistanArthur Kaliyev2020–21
VenezuelaRick Chartraw1974–75
showing: 46 rows

What percentage of NHL players are not American?

Over 75% of players for the National Hockey League (NHL) are non-American, with Canadian players represented the most.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources