Following up on our all-time North-American Calgary Flames roster, we’ll now construct an all-time European Calgary Flames roster. Unlike the North American team, the options were much less abundant this time around. Although the team isn’t nearly as strong as the North American one, the Flames have still had some top-tier European talent on their team over the years.
First let’s lay down some ground rules.
- The roster will be constructed of 20 players (12 forwards, six defencemen, two goalies). They must represent a European country.
- The 12 forward spots can be filled by forwards of any position (RW, LW, C) but we’ll try to maintain each players natural position. The only restriction is that we must have at least four centres.
- The seven defencemen can have any handedness with no limits on RD or LD.
- The players will be selected based on their accomplishments with the Flames and not their overall careers. For example, Jaromir Jagr won’t qualify.
- This is for Calgary Flames players only, no Atlanta Flames players.
Sergei Makarov – Kent Nilsson – Hakan Loob
Hakan Loob’s time in the NHL was short, but he was an incredibly effective player. He’s one of only seven Flames to register over 100 points or 50 goals in a season. He still holds the title as the only Swedish player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season. His 17 playoff points during the 1989 Stanley Cup run and 54 playoff points overall are still franchise bests among European born skaters. All-time he ranks ninth in Flames history for points and eighth for goals.
Kent Nilsson was the easy choice at centre. Nilsson was the most talented European Flame ever. His 131 points and 82 assists during the 1980–81 season are both franchise records to this day. He’s also one of only three Flames to finish top three in NHL scoring in a season. Overall he ranks 10th all-time in Flames history for points and assists and 11th for goals despite only playing 345 games in Calgary. His career 1.36 points per game as a Flame is a franchise record.
Like Loob and Nilsson Sergei Makarov’s time as a Flame was short, but very successful. Makarov didn’t actually join the Flames until he was already 31 years old and a hockey legend in Russia. He would make an immediate impact and is one of only three Flames to win the Calder Trophy. All said, he posted 292 points in 297 games for the Flames and ranks sixth all-time among European born players in Flames history. His 0.98 points per game as a Flame is second behind Nilsson among Europeans.
Kristen Huselius – Mikael Backlund – Elias Lindholm
Elias Lindholm has only spent five years in Calgary, but already ranks as the fifth highest scoring European in Flames history. He’s developed into a legit top line player for the Flames and is currently the team’s top centre. So far he’s registered 325 points in 369 games in Calgary. If he ends up re-signing long-term, he’ll likely become the highest scoring European in Flames history within a couple years.
At centre I have Mr. Reliable Mikael Backlund. Backlund is a franchise legend and is currently the third longest tenured Flame ever. If he sticks around for the coming season he’s very likely to pass Mark Giordano for sole possession of second on the all time games played list. As it stands, Backlund’s the highest scoring European born Flame ever with 492 points and is also tops for assists with 307. Overall he’s ninth in franchise history for points and seventh for assists.
Lastly I have the supremely underrated Kristen Huselius. Huselius only spent three under the radar seasons in Calgary but during that time he was a borderline elite two-way winger. Huselius posted elite analytical numbers before they were mainstream while also adding on 182 points in 216 games.
Michael Frolik – Robert Reichel – Jiri Hudler
Jiri Hudler spent parts of four seasons as a Flame, posting 192 points across 248 games. The total ranks ninth all-time among European born forwards in Flames history. In particular his 2014-15 season in which he posted 76 points will always be remembered in Calgary. The total is the fourth highest total by a European born Flame in the 21st century behind only Lindholm and Huselius.
At centre I’ve got Hudler’s fellow countryman in Robert Reichel. Reichel is without a doubt the best Czechia-born Flame ever. He spent seven years as a Flame as a homegrown talent in the 1990s. Across that time, he racked up 354 points in 425 games which ranks as the fourth highest total among European players in Flames history. His 93 points in 1993–94 is the fifth highest single season total in Flames history by a European and only Nilsson had more as a centre.
Lastly I have the always dependable Michael Frolik. Frolik joined the Flames in 2015 and spent five years with the team. Most notably he was part of the famous 3M line. Frolik registered 145 points in 319 games in Calgary, the 12th highest total among European forwards in Flames history. He was never a big point producer, but his strong two-way game made him a key part of the Flames during his time in Calgary.
Olli Jokinen – German Titov – Valeri Bure
At right wing I have Valeri Bure who spent four years in Calgary in the late 1990s. Bure played 256 games as a Flame, tallying 192 points. At his height he posted 75 points during the 1999–2000 season which led the Flames in scoring. Overall his 192 points rank eighth all-time among European born Flames.
At centre it’s another member of the Young Guns era of the 1990s in German Titov. Titov played 345 games as a Flame, the most by a Russian born player in franchise history. He added on 192 points which ranks seventh among European born Flames all-time.
A testament to how slim the pickings were I have Olli Jokinen playing out of position to round out the fourth line. Jokinen had two stints in Calgary between 2008 and 2012. In that time he played 236 games for the Flames, posting 165 points. The total ranks as the 11th highest total among European born Flames.
Pekka Rautakallio – Rasmus Andersson
It’s not a stretch to say Rasmus Andersson is already the best European born Flames defenceman ever. With 161 points in 377 games in Calgary he’s already the franchises all-time leader in points, assists and games played by a European defender. He also needs just two more goals to rank tops for goals as well. At just 26 years old and entering his prime, he’s well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best Europeans in Flames history.
Alongside Andersson I have Pekka Rautakallio. Rautakallio spent just two seasons in Calgary between 1980–1982, but ranks second behind Andersson for assists and points by a European born defender. He also ranks first for goals. His 68 and 56 point seasons during his two years in Calgary are still the two best single season totals in franchise history by a European defenceman. Naturally his 0.75 points per game is also the best in Flames history.
Tommy Albelin – Kari Eloranta
Tommy Albelin spent six years as a Flame during the late 1990s, playing in 342 games and adding on 71 points. Only Andersson has played more games in Calgary as a European born defenceman. Despite posting just 71 points, he ranks fifth in Flames history for points by a European defender. He also spent one season as an alternate captain in Calgary.
Kari Eloranta spent just five seasons in the NHL in the 1980s, all of which were in Calgary apart from 12 games. Overall he played 255 games as a Flame, registering 96 assists and 108 points. He ranks second all-time among European born Flames defenders for assists, and third for points. He also holds the fifth and sixth highest single season point totals in Flames history by a European born defenceman.
Tony Lydman – Frank Musil
On the third pairing I have Frank Musil who played in 335 games for the Flames in the 1990s. The total ranks third in Flames history by a European defender. He holds the three highest single season penalty minute totals in Flames history by a European born defenceman and was a pure stay at home defender during his time as a Flame.
Rounding out the defence group is Toni Lydman. Lydman was a Flame for four seasons in the early 2000s. Across that time he played in 289 games, adding on 93 points. He ranks fourth for games played, assists, and points among European born defencemen. He also ranks third for goals.
Miikka Kiprusoff – Jacob Markstrom
Despite the many calls to include Miikka Kiprusoff on team North America, he was in fact born in Finland. The easiest choice on this roster, Kiprusoff is the best goaltender in franchise history by a wide margin, European or otherwise. He ranks first all-time in franchise history for games played, wins, shutouts, saves, save percentage and GAA by a goaltender. He’s also the only goaltender in Flames history to win the Vezina.
His number will finally be retired in Calgary this coming season, cementing him as an all-time great.
At backup I have Jacob Markstrom. Depsite playing just three seasons in Calgary thus far he already ranks second for games played, wins, and shutouts among European born goalies in franchise history. He’s also the only other European goalie in Flames history not named Kiprusoff to finish top two in Vezina voting. With three more years on his current contract, no one is catching Markstrom for this spot anytime soon.
Just missed the cut
Oliver Kylington – Despite only playing one season thus far as a regular in the lineup, Oliver Kylington is arguably one of the most skilled European defencemen in Flames history already. He already ranks eighth all time for points by a European born defender despite having just 168 games under his belt. He didn’t have the numbers to crack this lineup yet, but another strong season in 2023–24 puts him on the all-time European roster.
Nikita Zadorov – Similar to Kylington, Nikita Zadorov’s time in the Calgary lineup has been short, but he’s already one of the most impactful European defencemen in franchise history. With just 156 games as a Flame thus far he’s already ninth all-time for points and fifth for goals by a European defencemen. His 14 goals last season were the second most in franchise history by a European defencemen. Like Kylington, another strong season in 2023–24 puts him on the all-time European roster.
Michael Nylander – Nylander’s time in Calgary was very short, totaling just 168 games, but he registered the 13th most points by a European forward in team history. He quite literally missed the cut as the 13th forward. In the end the other names had longer tenures in Calgary which gave them the edge over Nylander.
The final Flames European team
|Sergei Makarov||Kent Nilsson||Hakan Loob|
|Kristen Huselius||Mikael Backlund||Elias Lindholm|
|Michael Frolik||Robert Reichel||Jiri Hudler|
|Olli Jokinen||German Titov||Valeri Bure|
The selections on the top line were pretty clear cut. Nilsson and Loob are the two most talented European Flames ever. Makarov meanwhile spent a short time in Calgary but was a dynamic forward during his time here. The options get pretty slim and fast when looking at European forwards, but this Swedish trio on the second line would make up a dominate two-way line. Due to the lack of options at forward, I bumped Elias Lindholm to right wing where he’s played before.
On the third line we start to notice the lack of depth in the pool. I kept the trend of keeping the countrymen together this time with Czechia. All three were solid Flames in their own right and left their mark in Calgary. With the options dwindling, I went with three forwards who had some decent moments in Calgary for the fourth line even if their impacts weren’t monumental.
|Pekka Rautakallio||Rasmus Andersson|
|Tommy Albelin||Kari Eloranta|
|Toni Lydman||Frank Musil|
The list of European born defenders in Flames history isn’t exactly long. The list of impactful ones is even shorter. Andersson and Rautakallio are probably the two most gifted European defenders in Flames history offensively so they land on the top pairing. The options get incredibly slim here so I’ve gone with two of the longest tenured European defenceman in franchise history on the second pairing.
Given the lack of clear cut options, there were a plethora of names to pick from for the third pairing. In the end I went with the two European defenders who had spent the most time in Calgary of the names left.
There isn’t much explanation needed here. Kiprusoff is the clear cut number one option with Markstrom alone as the second best choice.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire