Born: July 30, 1973Ornskoldsvik, Sweden
Frame: 6’0”, 191 pounds
Synopsis: Drafted 16th overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, Naslund was drawing comparisons to some of the most skilled individuals in the game. After a slow start with the Penguins he would get the opportunity to showcase his superskill abilities in Vancouver. The rest is history.
Swedish Elite Star
Markus Naslund made his professional hockey debut with Modo of the Swedish Elite League for the 1990.91 season. He finished top-four in scoring with a 19 point (10-9-19) season and in just his second year finished the season at a point-per-game pace to lead Modo in scoring. Back-to-back 39 point seasons (22-17-39) showcased his scoring abilities but his explosion on the international scene at the 1993 World Junior Championships (WJC) took his star to new heights. He scored 13 goals in eight tournament games to set a WJC record that stands today for most goals scored in a single tournament.
West Coast Expressed
When former Canucks Head Coach Marc Crawford centred Brendan Morrison between Naslund and hulking winger Todd Bertuzzi, the result quickly gained attention around the NHL. One of the most prolific scoring lines in Canucks history, the trio dubbed the ‘West Coast Express’ line dominated in the early 2000s. Bertuzzi and Naslund both finished top-three in League scoring their first season together and kept rolling through their opponents’ checking lines during their time together. In three seasons, the WCE combined for 292 goals and 426 assists. Naslund and Bertuzzi also combined for eight All-Star game appearances while with Vancouver.
A winger by trade, Markus Naslund took to the face-off circle on occasion only for special face-offs as part of his role as team captain. On October 6, 2002, he took a face-off unlike any other. Queen Elizabeth II made an appearance at a pre-season match-up against the visiting San Jose Sharks and she became the first Queen to drop a puck at an NHL game. Naslund was front and centre as the British Monarch took in her first taste of NHL hockey since attending a game as a princess 51 years prior. For his part, the Canucks captain followed strict protocol including never turning his back to the Queen and not initiating a handshake or contact with her. Naslund made the evening even more memorable for the Queen by assisting on the Canucks first goal en route to a 3-2 win over the Sharks.
After a season and a half of moderate success with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Naslund came to Vancouver with new horizons on the forefront. The dawning of a new era, Naslund developed his game alongside the likes of Mark Messier, Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure in the early goings. In 2003, Naslund would become the first Canucks player to receive the Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) after being voted the League’s MVP by his peers. He was also selected by The Hockey News as the NHL MVP and was a Hart Trophy finalist. A true Canucks pioneer, he became the first and only three-time First Team All-Star and has represented Vancouver at the NHL All-Star Game more than any other member of the Vancouver Canucks. He appeared at the All-Star Game on five occasions, captaining the Western Conference team in 2004.
On January 17, 2008, Markus Naslund played in his 1000th NHL game, becoming only the fifth Canucks player and 226th NHL player to ever accomplish the feat. Facing off against the Detroit Red Wings, Naslund fittingly scored the game-tying goal and helped assure at least a single-point in the milestone game. By the end of his career, he’d collected 869 points (395-474-869) in 1117 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers. He left with a slew of Canucks franchise records in his wake, including most goals (346), points (756), all-time hat tricks (10 tied with Tony Tanti), power play goals (114), game-winning goals (49), most goals in a period (3, accomplished the feat twice), most consecutive 20 or more goal seasons (9) and most assists in a period (4) among other feats while also tying Stan Smyl as the longest tenured Canucks captain (eight seasons).