Does Ulf Nilsson Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

by Schyffel [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

By some metrics, Ulf Nilsson was the Greatest Player, or at least Greatest Forward, in WHA history. (APG and PPG, specifically.) But when he moved to the NHL he saw his numbers plummet and his career fall apart due to injuries.

In this episode we discuss whether or not Ulf Nilsson did enough in the WHA for us to say he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Listen here:

Nilsson’s stats:

Career:

  • NHL:
    • 1978-83; 4 seasons, 3 quality
    • 57G, 112A for 169P, +30 in 170 games; 12.9 PS
    • Not drafted
    • Era: Of the hundreds of players who played in at least 160 games (two full seasons) between 1978 and 1983, Nilsson is
      • 182nd in Goals
      • 87th in GPG
      • 148th in Assists
      • 29th in APG
      • 160th in Points
      • 16th in PPG
      • 101st in Plus/Minus
      • 129th in Offensive Point Shares
      • 201st in Point Shares
      • (And it’s worth noting: 354th in Games Played)
    • 80-game average: 27G, 53A for 79P, +14
    • 3-year peak: Nilsson only played 10 games in his fourth season, so his peak is not much higher
    • Playoffs: 8G, 14A for 22P in 25 games, +3
    • Adjusted: 48G (-9), 92A (-20) for 140P (-129)
    • Adjusted 82-game average: 23G, 44A for 68P
    • Obviously not on any adjusted per game leaderboards either
    • Never traded.
  • WHA:
    • 1974-78; 4 seasons, all quality
    • 140G, 344A (4th All Time) for 484P (10th All Time), +210 (unknown rank) in 300 games
    • Nilsson is 10th All Time in GPG, 1st in APG and PPG
    • 80-game average: 38G, 92A for 129P, +56
    • 3-year peak (1975-78): 80-game average of 41G, 90A for 132P, +59
    • Playoffs: 
      • 14G, 53A (1st All Time) for 67P (5th All Time), +25 in 42 games
      • Nilsson is 1st All time in WHA Playoff APG and PPG
  • Hockeyettan [Top Swedish league prior to the Swedish Elite League]:
    • 1967-74; 7 seasons, 6 quality???
    • 45G, 36A for 81P in 97 games
    • [Data is too confusing to figure out a single-season average or 3-year peak]
    • Playoffs: 37G, 25A for 62P in 72 games [I have no idea what’s going on here]

Accomplishments:

  • NHL:
    • Top 10 in APG once
    • Scored 25 goals once
    • Tallied 40 assists once
    • Scored 60 points once, 50 points twice
  • WHA:
    • WHA Playoff MVP (‘76)
    • [Don’t have awards voting information for WHA awards]
    • Led the WHA in Assists twice, Top 5 every season he was in the league
    • Led the WHA in APG three times, Top 5 every season he was in the league
    • Top 5 in Points every season he was in the league
    • Top 5 in Points every season he was in the league
    • 1st Team All Star twice, 2nd Team once
  • Hockeyettan:
    • Top 5 in Goals once
    • Top 10 in Assists once
    • Top 5 in Points once

Great Teams:

  • NHL:
    • Top 3 Forward on one Final Four (‘81 Rangers)
    • Injured (missed 16 games) on one Runner Up (‘79 Rangers)
  • WHA:
    • Best Player (won MVP) on one Avo Cup Champion (‘76 Jets)
    • Top 3 Forward (by points) on one Avo Cup Champion (‘78 Jets) and one Runner Up (‘77 Jets)
  • Hockeyettan: Does not to appear to have won a championship but I cannot figure out whether or not he was on a runner up team (sure looks like it based upon his playoff games played)
  • World Championships:
    • Best Forward??? (by points) on one World Champion Runner Up (‘73 Sweden)
    • Caused his team to lose a game and was suspended for the rest of the tournament on a World Championship Bronze (‘74 Sweden)

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