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Thomas Gradin

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Thomas Gradin
Thomasgradin
Position Centre
Shot Left
Height
Weight
5 ft 11 in (1.8 m)
176 lb (80 kg)
Teams Modo
AIK
Vancouver Canucks
Boston Bruins
Västerås IK
Nationality Flag of Sweden Swedish
Born February 18 1956 (1956-02-18) (age 60),
Sollefteå, Sweden
NHL Draft 45th overall, 1976
Chicago Black Hawks
WHA Draft 9th overall, 1976
Winnipeg Jets
Pro Career 1972 – 1990


Thomas Kjell Gradin (born February 18, 1956 in Sollefteå, Sweden) was a professional ice hockey player in the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1978 to 1987. He is best remembered for the 8 seasons he spent with the Vancouver Canucks, and remains one of the top players in that franchise's history.

NHL careerEdit

Gradin was already one of the top players in the Swedish Elitserien when he was drafted by the Chicago Black Hawks in the third round (45th overall) in the 1976 NHL Amateur Draft. Chicago spent two years trying to lure Gradin to North America, but were unable to agree to contract terms. During this time Gradin, now playing for AIK, continued to establish himself as one of the top talents outside of the NHL. The Black Hawks ended the stalemate by trading Gradin's NHL rights to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a draft pick in June 1978.

Gradin was one of three Swedes (Lars Zetterstrom and Lars Lindgren being the others) to join the Canucks for the 1978–79 NHL season, becoming the first European players in the club's history. He was an instant hit, playing on a line with fellow rookies Stan Smyl and Curt Fraser, he led the team in assists (31) and finished second in scoring (51 points) in his rookie campaign, and added 4 goals in 3 playoff games. As a result, he was named team co-MVP.

In ensuing seasons, Gradin would establish himself as arguably the most skilled player in the franchise's history to that point. He jumped to 75 points in 1979–80, and starting in 1980–81, he would lead the team in assists in 4 consecutive seasons. He led the team in scoring in 1980–81 and 1981–82. His 86 points in 1981–82 set a franchise record, although it was broken the following season by Stan Smyl. Perhaps his finest moment came in the 1982 playoffs, when he led the Canucks in scoring with 19 points in 17 games en route to their surprising appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. He would play in his only NHL All-Star Game in 1985.

By 1985–86, he had established himself as the franchise's all-time leading scorer, but was now the teams #2 centre behind Patrik Sundstrom. During that season, his production fell to a career-low 41 points. With the club's acquisition of Barry Pederson, Gradin became expendable and was allowed to sign as a free agent with the Boston Bruins. He would have a solid season in Boston in 1986–87, finishing with 43 points in just 64 games, but chose to retire from the NHL at that point.

After leaving the NHL, Gradin returned to Sweden and AIK, and turned in three more solid seasons there before retiring in 1990. He would make a brief comeback in 1996–97 at the age of 40 before hanging up his gear for good.

Gradin finished his NHL career with 209 goals and 384 assists for 593 points in 677 games. He also added 42 points in 42 playoff games.

Peter Gradin, Thomas' younger brother, was also a star hockey player in Sweden throughout the 1980s although he was never drafted by an NHL team.

International careerEdit

Gradin's most notable contribution internationally came at the 1984 Canada Cup, where he captained Sweden's entry and led them to the finals before losing to Canada. He would also represent Sweden at the 1981 Canada Cup where they finished 5th. He only took part in one World Championships, in 1978.

Gradin also starred for Sweden at the 1974, 1975, and 1976 World Junior Championships, helping them to a bronze medal in 1975.

Scouting careerEdit

Gradin was named Vancouver part-time amateur scout prior to the 1994–95 NHL season and remained in that position through the 1995–96 NHL season. Prior to the 1996–97 NHL season, he was named Vancouver full-time amateur scout and then had his title upgraded to head European scout prior to the 1998–99 NHL season and remained in that position into the 2006–07 NHL season. He played a key scouting role in Vancouver's decision to draft the Sedin twins, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, second and third overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

More recently, he has been lauded for discovering Alexander Edler, now one of the Canucks' top defensive prospects, when he was a complete unknown playing in the Swedish 3rd division, and convincing Vancouver management to select him in the third round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Awards and achievementsEdit

  • Played in NHL All-Star Game (1985)
  • Vancouver Canucks' leading scorer (1980–81, 1981–82)
  • Vancouver Canucks' leading playoff scorer (1979, 1981, 1982, 1986)
  • Vancouver Canucks' goals leader (1981–82)
  • Vancouver Canucks' assists leader (1978–79, 1980–81 – 1983–84)
  • Holds Canucks' record for career points by a center (550)
  • Viking Award winner (Best Swede in NHL - 1982)
  • Canucks' Molson Cup winner (1982–83)
  • Vancouver Canucks' MVP (1978–79)
  • Swedish Junior Player of the Year (1974–75)
  • Holds Canucks' record for most career hat-tricks (Tied with Markus Näslund)

Gradin also set many other Canuck records which have since been broken. Most notably, he was the franchise's all-time leading scorer until he was passed by his long-time teammate Stan Smyl, who has since been surpassed by Trevor Linden and Markus Näslund.

Career statisticsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1978–79 Vancouver Canucks NHL 76 20 31 51 22 3 4 1 5 4
1979–80 Vancouver Canucks NHL 80 30 45 75 22 4 0 2 2 0
1980–81 Vancouver Canucks NHL 79 21 48 69 34 3 1 3 4 0
1981–82 Vancouver Canucks NHL 76 37 49 86 32 17 9 10 19 10
1982–83 Vancouver Canucks NHL 80 32 54 86 61 4 1 3 4 2
1983–84 Vancouver Canucks NHL 75 21 57 78 32 4 0 1 1 2
1984–85 Vancouver Canucks NHL 76 22 42 64 43 -- -- -- -- --
1985–86 Vancouver Canucks NHL 71 14 27 41 34 3 2 1 3 2
1986–87 Boston Bruins NHL 64 12 31 43 18 4 0 4 4 0
NHL totals 677 209 384 593 298 42 17 25 42 20

ReferencesEdit

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