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Lone Stars: 7 Countries With Just One NHL Player

This week, Keener takes you on a trip around the globe!

Hockey is becoming more and more an international sport. The NHL has seen players with ties to 45 different countries suit up for big league competition, which honestly blows my mind, because, until now, I didn’t even know there were 45 countries.

Canada and the US combine to provide 70.7% of the Chel’s personnel, while Sweden represents 9.9%, and Russia 6.5%.

And then there’s Australia, which accounts for .01% of players in the league, AKA, one guy.

Who is that one guy?

Glad you asked, because this week I’m singling out all the solo national representatives in the NHL.

Lone stars
While North America still dominates the NHL, other non-traditional hockey countries are starting to get in on the action in ones and twos. So, dust off your globe bar cart, pour yourself a drink, and give it a spin, because these are the countries with just one player in the NHL.

slovenia

Slovenia’s one and only current NHL representative is Anze Kopitar. Not bad, but is it just me, or does he look a little tired from carrying that load by himself for so long?

There have only ever been three Slovenians in the bigs — Kopitar, Jan Mursak who played 46 games with the Red Wings between 2010 and 2013, and Greg Kuznik, who donned a Carolina Hurricanes hockey sweater for one game back in 2000-01.

If you’re wondering what the all-time Slovenian scoring race looks like, Kopitar has a 1,207 point edge on Mursak (4).

netherlands

Dutch winger Daniel Sprong is the lone flag bearer for the Netherlands these days. But, before he came to the NHL, he was known as Hans Sprungfeld, murderous pirate.

The Netherlands have only ever sent two players to the NHL — the aforementioned Sprong and Cornwall, Ontario-born John Wensink, who scored 70 goals and 68 assists in his 403 NHL games, and repped the Oranje at the ‘89 World Hockey Championships.

Ed Beers and Adriaan Kea were both born in the Netherlands, and both played for the Blues and Flames organizations. But, Beers and Kea were Dutch-born Canadians, so I’m not sure that counts. Sprong is the real deal, though.

austria

Marco Rossi doesn’t always play in international tournaments, but when he does, he plays for Austria. And he’s the only Austrian national active in the NHL today.

Some may say Andre Burakovsky, but, while he was born in Austria, he was born to Swedish parents (his dad was playing hockey in Austria at the time), he was raised in Sweden, and he has appeared for Sweden on the international stage. So, he doesn’t count.

Austria’s had some decent representation in the NHL over the years, though, including their top-scorer, Thomas Vanek (789 points), and journeyman right-winger, Michael Grabner.

australia

Did you know that in Australia players hold their sticks upside down, and teams cycle the puck counter-clockwise?

No, that’s not true. But, what is true is that St. Louis Blues Centre, Nathan Walker, is the only Australian national to have played in the NHL — EVER! He’s been hanging around the league since 2017 and averages about 40 games a year.

And that brings me to the second part of our list:

countries with only one player ever

While some countries only have one NHL representative currently, these countries, like Australia, have only had one representative ever.

 

japan

When we picture the Land of the Rising Sun, we tend to think of sushi, high-tech gadgets, and samurai warriors, not pad-stacks, kick-saves, and Danny Glovers. 

But, in 2007, goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji made history becoming the first and only Japanese hockey player to put on an NHL hockey jersey. Fukufuji appeared in just four games for the LA Kings, collecting three losses and an .837 save percentage, though he did post some decent stats in the ECHL and the AHL.

 

japan's lone nhl player representative

hungary

So far we’ve excluded Canadian players born abroad, but Frank Banham flipped the script. He’s a Canadian-born Hungarian right-winger who has played internationally for both countries, but more so for Hungary. Banham didn’t stick around the NHL too long, unfortunately, playing only 32 games, split between the Ducks and the ‘Yotes.

 

hungary's lone nhl representative

lithuania

Despite being a Soviet break-off, Lithuania hasn’t produced a whole lot of hockey players. In fact there’s only ever been one Lithuanian in the NHL, but his name is fairly recognizable. It’s Dainius Zurbrus, who racked up an impressive 1,293 NHL games, and appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals twice.

 

more countries means more jerseys

So, now you know who to customize your Hungarian national team hockey jersey with. By the way, have you seen Hungary’s hockey sweaters? They have some pretty sweet bibs. Almost like a reverse Minnesota Wild colour scheme.

Anyways, best of luck to these countries in the 2026 Olympics. I think Nathan Walker will have his work cut out for him.

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Chris “Keener” Dougherty started customizing jerseys when he was 11. Over the next 20 years, Keener honed his craft to become a world-class customizer and leading expert on premium jersey customization.

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