Hockey fans from the capital of the United States tune in every game to cheer on a Capitals team led by a Russian superstar, an elite Swedish center and a Canadian goalie. Hockey truly is an international game with many players coming from all around the world to don those red sweaters.
We know who some of the best Capitals were, but what if you separated the players by their native countries? Where have the best Capitals players really come from? Let's look at some of the best players in franchise history to determine what the best lineup is (two wings, one center, two defensemen and one goalie).
For the second installment, we are looking at the best Swedes to play for Washington.
One quick note to start, incredibly, the Caps have never had a Swedish goalie between the pipes. There have been enough top Swedes, however, that it seemed a shame not to write out an article for the remaining skaters so this is the only group that will not include a netminder.
Bengt-Ake Gustafsson - Nicklas Backstrom - Andre Burakovsky
Backstrom is the given here. He is one of the best players in franchise history, period. Gustafsson is also an easy call with 629 games with Washington in which he amassed 196 goals and 359 assists. He ranks eighth in franchise history in assists and seventh total points with 554, only two behind Dale Hunter's 556.
The tough part was finding that second winger. Ultimately I was torn between Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson. Johansson is primarily a center, but he played primarily on the wing in Washington so I felt it fair to consider him here.
Johansson played in Washington longer than Burakovsky and amassed more points, but I think overall Burakovsky is the more skilled player of the two. He just struggled to play with any sort of consistency. If I'm being honest, I am also swayed greatly by a two-goal performance in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final in 2018. Johansson was a skilled player and scored a series-clinching overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017, but that does not carry nearly the same significance as what Burakovsky did to Tampa Bay.
Calle Johansson - Peter Andersson
The first answer is obvious. The only defenseman with more points with the Capitals than Johansson is John Carlson. That's it, that's the list. He played 15 great seasons for Washington.
While Johansson is an obvious choice, trying to find a second defenseman was a bit tougher. In the history of the franchise, only four Swedish defensemen have played more than 100 games for Washington and Christian Djoos is one of them despite what felt like a brief stint with the NHL squad. Playing fewer than 100 games is not an automatic deal-breaker, it depends more on a player's impact, but obviously it becomes harder to have an impact on your team the fewer games you play so there are not many others to consider here.
In the end it came down to Andersson and Djoos and I'll go with Andersson. Andersson played three seasons for the Caps and netted the team a third-round draft pick when he was traded to Quebec. He was also very active with the Swedish National Team with two goals, one silver and one bronze medal in the World Championship and one Olympic bronze.
The real takeaway here is that while Sweden has produced two of the franchise's best players in Backstrom and Johansson, the country is not a pipeline the franchise has tapped into all that much in its history.
Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: