Mats Naslund

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by WingsFan95, May 9, 2011.

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  1. WingsFan95

    WingsFan95 Registered User

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    I'd say the third time I've run by the name Mats Naslund. He seemed to be a great player if even for a short stint.

    On the surface, Cup Champion, 3-Time All-Star, Lady Byng Recipient, PPG player.

    How would you rate him?
     
  2. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    He was a very talented and consistent but small(ish) player.

    Naslund was quite a skilled offensive player and his numbers were slightly less than they could have been because Montreal (and Naslund) still played with some team wide defensive responsibility during a time when it was fashionable to go guns blazing.
     
  3. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    One of the top play making left wingers of all time.
     
  4. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    He was a fine talent. Was only an all-star once (1986) but he is still the best forward Montreal has had since Lafleur, to this day. I don't know if that's a product of how bad Montreal has been or what. But Naslund could play hockey
     
  5. brianscot

    brianscot Registered User

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    One of the main things that I recall about Naslund is that despite his smurf size, he was very strong on the puck and seldom got separated from it in the offensive zone.

    As a skater he had a great turn radius and that low center of gravity which helps players do good things in tight quarters --- reminiscent of a soccer player on ice, lots of quick, short bursts that sprung him open.

    Does anyone remember why he left to sign with Lugano?
     
  6. Howe Elbows 9

    Howe Elbows 9 Registered User

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    Taken from Wikipedia and might not be a definite answer, but something that sounds like a reasonable explanation:

     
  7. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    From 1990 editions of different papers:

    St Louis Post, March 7th:
    Slumping winger Mats Naslund wants a big raise from the Montreal Canadiens or he will return to Europe. GM Serge Savard told the Montreal Gazette: ''I offered him what I consider very good money, but not nearly as much as his lawyer is demanding.''

    Boston Globe, April 23th:
    Mats Naslund, still out with a groin injury, is expected to resume playing in his native Sweden next season.

    Record-Journal (Meriden, Connecticut), May 5th:
    Mats Naslund...announced Friday he is ending his eight-year career with the Montreal Canadiens to play in Lugano, Switzerland.
    "It's a family decision," Naslund said. "It's an easier life over there. With a 36-game schedule there's not as much travelling. And I hear Lugano is like a paradise." ...
    Naslund said he decided to leave because he lacked motivation this season. "...I couldn't get up for either the games or the season," he said. "I just didn't enjoy it as much. But now that I'm going to play in Europe, I feel like I could go out jogging to get ready for the season."
     
  8. JaymzB

    JaymzB Registered User

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    One thing I’ll always remember was how odd it was seeing him in a Bruins jersey that one year.

    Great player, and a fan favourite due to his willingness to get into the “dirty†area’s to score. His personal totals would have definitely benefitted from playing on a more wide open team, but he sacrificed his personal #’s to win. IMO players in that situation should be recognized more than some guys who score a lot, but don’t do what it takes to win.
     
  9. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    I was surprised by his good playoff totals (basically a PPG player) given that you wouldn't necessarily expect a small European skill player to be very effective that time of year.
     
  10. matnor

    matnor Registered User

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    I don't think there's any reason to believe European players performed worse than American players during the playoffs (though for some reason that seems to be a common belief). Here is the breakdown during the 80s (1979/80-1988/89) for European and American players:

     
  11. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    Well, the preconception is based on the simple fact that Europeans play a less physical brand of hockey and in Naslund's case he was tiny and you'd expect him to have some difficulty in playoff scenarios with less penalties being called and thus the "danger zone" becoming a place where you have to pay a high physical toll to get there.
     
  12. LeBlondeDemon10

    LeBlondeDemon10 BlindLemon Haystacks

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    I would argue that Richer was the best forward but I can live with Naslund. He was a better playmaker than Richer and clearly more consistent. Richer had that flair like The Flower, being French Canadian with a great slapshot. Too bad his flair was for only two seasons.
     
  13. matnor

    matnor Registered User

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    I understand, all I'm saying is that there is no evidence whatsoever that Europeans perform worse than Americans in the playoffs compared with the regular season.
     
  14. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    High praise. That would make him a lock for the HOF, wouldn't it? And he isn't in.
     
  15. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    LW Assist Leaders since 1943-44

    Mats Naslund has two of the top 25 assist totals in a season since 1943-44, more impressive when you factor out the centers on the list and that Naslund had a fairly short career.

    Also his assists were primary playmaking assists without the benefit of snipers on his line. Some of the others like Robitaille and Goulet are there because they had a large number of rebound assists, while others like Olmstead, Cashman, Messier were mainly grinder or corner work type assists.
     
  16. MS

    MS 1%er

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    His numbers are hugely inflated by era, though. He was top-10 in assists once, 8th in his career year. And you're comparing him to guys from 1943-67 who played much shorter seasons.

    Adjust for era and he had one season over 70 adjusted points and one season over 50 adjusted assists. Very good player who had one elite outlier year, but generally not an elite player. He was an average first liner outside of 1985-86.

    Hell, he isn't even the best playmaking LW of the last 30 years with the surname Naslund.
     
  17. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Really...........

    Used 1943-44 since that was the introduction of the Red Line which created the modern transition game and impacted on the way LW is played.

    Are you really serious about Mats vs Markus. Adjust all you want but the stats clearly indicate that on an assists per game basis Mats had it all over Markus during the regular season 0.59 > 0.42
    and during the playoffs 0.56 > ~0.40.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2011
  18. FiveForDrawingBlood

    FiveForDrawingBlood Registered User

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    Naslund was done by time he was a Bruin.
     
  19. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    You're completely discounting the fact that the Canadiens were not a run and gun like most of the league was during that time.

    Adjusted stats aren't even going to be close to the truth for Mats Naslund. (they are generally not close to the truth anyways, but even moreso for people who played on teams going against the grain; see also the 70s Bruins and Habs)

    Anyone who saw him play will tell you that he could have scored more if he played for a team that took more risks.
     
  20. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    You still can't disregard the era, it's the 80s. The "not run and gun" Canadiens scored 330 goals the year Mats Naslund had his one 100 point season, more than pretty much anyone has done since 1996. The Canucks scored 264 the year Markus had his one 100 point season.

    League goals per game was 5.31 when Markus scored 100+ in 2002/03, it was 7.94 when Mats did in 1985/86. Not surprisingly Markus was 2nd in goals and 2nd in overall scoring, two points behind the Art Ross-winning Forsberg, whereas Mats was 8th in scoring and not within 20 points of any of the top four scorers.

    Mats was the Habs' best offensive weapon of that era but then who was he competing against? Bobby Smith? A young Claude Lemieux and Stephane Richer? You need to consider that a team emphasizes its strengths and the Habs were a defense-first team in good part because they really lacked great offensive talent compared to the competition.
     
  21. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    Yes but as soon as you open up the "era" door you're talking about a LOT more than goals for and against.

    For example, the stars of the dead puck era also got a higher % of their teams offense on average for some reason.

    Maybe because the tv timeouts allowed them to rest and play more often or because teams were constructed with a few good players and a bunch of plodding big men to waterski behind offensive players.

    Also there were pretty large swings in powerplay opportunities etc.

    Adjusted stats are a horribly crude tool for the most part.

    Also 02/03 is pretty much the weakest showing by top forwards anyone can remember.

    Not saying one Naslund was greater than the other - I'm just saying it isn't an easy question to answer if you are going to compare across time for any two players, really.
     
  22. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    I don't fully believe in adjusted stats either, but era and relative standing in comparison to your peers can't just be ignored either. If Rocket Richard scores 66 points in 1951 then that's a greater achievement than Stan Weir doing it in 1980.

    It's not that Mats wasn't a good player, his career was just quite decidedly sub-HHOF standard and all the ifs and buts don't change it.
     
  23. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

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    Relative standing in comparison to your peers makes the peers matter a lot.

    I can say rather emphatically that in looking at their best seasons, Mats Naslund had a lot better competition in the scoring race.
     
  24. steve141

    steve141 Registered User

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    Using the era argument to discredit Swedish players from the 80s is silly. Swedish stars in the 70s and 80s went through the same kind of adjustment problems that the former Soviet went through in the early 90s. Just like you can't judge Fetisov or Makarov by what they did in the NHL, you can't judge players like Naslund and Loob by their NHL careers alone.

    I think that that whole generation of Swedish players (Naslund, Loob, Gustafsson, Kenta Nilsson, Eldebrink) are terribly underrated compared to the 90s generation (Forsberg, Naslund, Alfredsson, Sundin, Lidstrom) because of the circumstances under which they played. Naslund was probably the second greatest Swedish player of his generation.

    Swedish players in the 80s didn't grow up dreaming of the NHL like today. The SEL in those days was a league that contained all of the best Swedes, minus a handful that took a shot at playing abroad for a couple of years. Many of them went back to Europe while they were still in their prime. It's worth noting that Sweden had it's strongest performance ever in international tournaments (WC/Olympics) between 1987 and 1994, thanks to the strength of that generation.

    Naslund started playing in the SEL as a 16 year old and went to the NHL as a 23 year old, to Switzerland as a 30 year old, came back to Sweden, and finished his career as a 35 year old in the NHL. This constant league switching make his career numbers hard to compare to other players. What you can say is that he was a star everywhere he went, and that he was a key player on teams that won both the SC, the World Championships and the Olympics.
     
  25. TheMoreYouKnow

    TheMoreYouKnow Registered User

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    Compared to whom? Markus? Probably true if you mean that, but then - even if we remove Lemieux and Gretzky as part of an exercise - Naslund's scoring finishes were:

    82/83 56th
    83/84 74th
    84/85 34th
    85/86 6th
    86/87 20th
    87/88 27th
    88/89 27th
    89/90 150th

    You can see that aside from one year Naslund wasn't ever even really in the scoring race.
     

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