Mats Sundin vs. Daniel Alfredsson

hockeyI spent eight hours yesterday putting up drywall in a basement with my brother Ryan. Eight hours in the same room with him is guaranteed to result in a series of arguments / debates. One that's still upsetting me was our debate about Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson.

Ryan arrogantly stated that Daniel Alfredsson was better than Mats Sundin. When the two careers are over, he feels that Alfy will be viewed as the better Swede. In fact, Ryan believes everyone already thinks Alfy is better than Sundin because when I told him I thought Sundin was better and it wasn't even that close, Ryan told me I'm the only one who thinks that and I'd be hard pressed to find someone to agree with me.

For the record, I think this is as crazy as his bold statement that Mark Bell would score 40 goals this season. We eventually put $50 on the line with him saying Bell would score at least 20 goals and me saying he wouldn't. I'm going to win that bet easily.

If I remove my inherent Leafs bias and look at Mats Sundin vs. Daniel Alfredsson objectively, I still believe the vast majority of people will agree Mats is the better hockey player. When all is said and done, Mats will have accumulated more points having played with mediocre players like Jonus Hoglund and Nik Antropov. Alfy plays with stellar all-stars like Heatley and Spezza. Mats not only secures more points, he captained Sweden's gold medal winning team. Sundin is always called to captain Swedish teams that include Alfedsson, because Sundin is considered the better captain. Love him or hate him, everyone agrees Sundin is a class act and his abundance of overtime goals suggests he scores in the clutch.

At this moment, neither player has won a Stanley Cup, although Alfredsson's team is currently a contender. I'm not doubting Alfredsson is a great player, I'm merely confidently stating that Mats Sundin is a better player. Great evidence is this season. At 27-10-4, Ottawa is leading the Northeast division. At 16-18-8, Toronto is last in that same division. 37-year old Mats Sundin is Toronto's offensive juggernaut with 48 points, a full 13 points ahead of our 2nd leading scorer and 21 points ahead of #3. 35-year old Alfy, with 55 points, is tied with Dany Heatley for the Senators lead in points, only 3 points ahead of Jason Spezza. On an awesome team with plenty of awesome support, the younger Alfredsson is only 7 points ahead of Sundin.

In my humble opinion, Mats Sundin is the second best Swede to play our game. Pound for pound, I believe Peter Forsberg is the best, but I sincerely believe Sundin is definitely better than Daniel Alfredsson. Is my brother right when he says nobody would agree with me or am I right when I say he's completely out to lunch?


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Comments (25 - click here to join in!)

Freddie P.

Sorry Mike, as much as I hate to admit it, I side with your brother.
When the Leafs needed Mats down the stretch last year he had one goal in the final 20 games.
That's his legacy as a Leaf. When they've really needed him he hasn't delivered.
Think back to a few playoff series when they actually played better when he "wasn't" in the lineup, as a matter of fact, Sundin's been a playoff failure.
And I don't buy the "he's had nobody to play with" argument either. Great players make those around them great.
Sundin has never done that.
To be honest, I'm not big on either Sundin or Alfredsson and you made a huge mistake in your final paragraph.
Borge Salming is by far the greatest Swede to play our game.

January 6, 2008 @ 12:55 PM

dale

Right on Freddie. Borje was the best & one of the 1st Europeans to come the the NHL. He took some much abuse first few years but stuck it out & became a dominant force in the NHL for many years.
Forsberg to me isn't even in the same class as Sundin or Alfredsson.
Where was Alfredsson the 2 years in a row when the Leafs beat them in the playoffs?

January 6, 2008 @ 1:49 PM

felix

I was expecting Mike to say Borje, too. But I didn't really get to see his best years as he started his Leafs career two years before I was born. What I remember about Borje is that hug he gave to Ken Wregget after that wicked save in the playoffs against St. Louis.

As far as players whose careers I've grown up with, I'd have to say Forsberg was the more dominant player of the three, for a time, Sundin's been the most consistent and Alfredsson had the best head of hair.

As far as the Sundin/Alfredsson comparison, it's really no contest, Mats wins in a landslide.

January 6, 2008 @ 3:29 PM

Mike Kic

This shouldn't even be an argument, Mats is by far better than Alfredsson. Mats is a monster, and if he EVER gets some talent around him...watch out. He is in my opinion the best Leaf EVER! Yup, argue that.

January 6, 2008 @ 3:42 PM

Mike (Buffalo Boy)

Im with you Mike, I think back to The Sabres Senators series two years ago when the Sabres beat what should have been a better team, Instead Jason Pomenville skated through a lazy Alfredson to score the series winner.
Alfredson has a tradition of being soft in key situations something that I think despite the lack of meaningful games up there, No one will ever say that Mats is soft or lacks leadership. He has stayed in Toronto all these years despite free agency and despite being on bad teams. He has survived some lean years still been there for the city and the fans.
It will be interesting to see if Alfy hangs out in Ottawa long enough to prove himself a worthy leader, I dont think so. He pours it on in the regular season but in the playoffs, Alf goes bye-bye. Mats given a chance rises to the occasion more times than not.

January 6, 2008 @ 3:51 PM

Toronto Mike

Freddie, we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. We can't judge Mats' entire career on his inability to score down the stretch last season. And until last year, the Sens were notorious for underachieving in the playoffs, and many would argue they still underachieved last season. What does that say about Alfy's leadership?

I missed Borge's best years. I started watching regularly in the early 80s. If he's #1, I'll put Forsberg #2 and Mats #3.

As for best Leaf ever... now there's an impossible argument. We'd have to set the criteria, decide if we're looking at quality or quantity, and then have at it. I can hear the older crowd yelling Keon and guys like me screaming Dougie. Mats is right up there, though...

January 6, 2008 @ 5:39 PM

Toronto Mike

Someone who didn't want to comment just sent me this note:

I am from Ottawa Mike and would very much agree with you that Sundin is the better player. Sundin is a shew in for the Hall. I cannot exacrly say the same for Alfie and I have watched his entire career closely here in Ottawa. So there, There are others out there that agree with you.
January 6, 2008 @ 5:41 PM

Freddie P.

To rank Sundin among Sittler, Gilmour, Clark, Salming or Keon is to insult them.

And just to back up a bit, in my original posting I wasn't really picking Alfredsson over Sundin as much as I was dismissing them both.

I wouldn't start a team with either one of them.

January 6, 2008 @ 8:19 PM

Freddie P.

To rank Sundin among Sittler, Gilmour, Clark, Salming or Keon is to insult them.

And just to back up a bit, in my original posting I wasn't really picking Alfredsson over Sundin as much as I was dismissing them both.

I wouldn't start a team with either one of them.

January 6, 2008 @ 8:20 PM

Freddie P.

Oh look! I'm a double clicking knob.

January 6, 2008 @ 8:21 PM

Ajax Mike

TMI Freddie, TMI...

:P

January 6, 2008 @ 8:25 PM

Ottawa (Charlottetown) Mike

Mike (Buffalo Boy) -- if you don't think Alfie shows up in the playoffs, you must not have seen last year's, especially when he put the OT dagger in the Sabres last year.

I'll stick to the case for Alfredsson since I don't see enough of Sundin to compare them much. From what I've seen, I do have a lot of respect for Sundin's ability and leadership. He's the least of my dislikes on the Leafs.

Alfie's always been a good player, but he's raised his game a few notches in the last couple of years. I think using points as the only comparison is incomplete, Mike. Alfie's contributions go beyond points. He kills penalties as well as being on the PP. In general, he can control the puck and control the pace of the game.

To spread out the offense, he also has spent more of the season on a line with Fisher than he has on the wing with Spezza and Heatley. He only plays with Spezza-Heatley on the PP or when they need a quick offensive boost.

While the (somewhat valid) criticism has been that up until last year he had failed to produce in the playoffs, that was more the result of pressing too hard as opposed to a lack of effort or desire. The Sens past playoff problems went far beyond Alfie (goaltending for example, among other things).

As it stands now, I think Alfredsson is currently the better player, while Sundin has had better career numbers (partly because Alfie came into the league as an older player and has played 400 fewer games, but Sundin has been consistently productive for a long time).

January 7, 2008 @ 9:54 AM

Al

Top Players to come out of Sweden so far:

1.Borge Salming
2.Peter Forsberg
3.Mats Sundin
4.Daniel Alfredson

THe way I see it, for Alfie to pas Sundin, he's gonna have to LEAD his team to a few cup wins. Sundin hasn't won any, but (with the exception of Mogilny) he's played with a bunch of Pylons. When he gets his chance with his national team, he shines. All of the players listed above should be hall-of-famers by the current criteria.

January 7, 2008 @ 4:12 PM

Nick

There's no question that when compared simply on hockey skill, both Alfredsson and Sundin are pretty stellar in their own right. One's got a wicked backhand, the other has a lightning quick wristshot; one can go up the rink in like 4 strides, the other can stop on a dime. They are great players respectively.

However, I work with a lot of Sweedes (in fact we have a Scandinavian office) and when the topic of great Sweedish players come up, Forsberg and Sundin are always top of the list.

I think Sundin and Forsberg have consistantly showed that they are leaders - true captains of their teams. They 've adapted to the Canadian style of play far better than your Alfies, Zettebergs and Lindstroms. They play with grace and dexterity, but also grind it out in the corner, have a lot of grit and character and really commandeer their team. There's a reason why Sundin has always been called to captain Team Sweeden.

January 7, 2008 @ 4:51 PM

Ryan

As always Mike and I remember something happening differently.

"Ryan arrogantly stated that Daniel Alfredsson was better than Mats Sundin." - Are you sure you aren't confusing arrogance with drywall dust-induced grumpiness? I love Sundin and hate Alfredsson, but I still see Alfredsson getting better, which scares me.

"When the two careers are over, he feels that Alfy will be viewed as the better Swede." - I did say this. I also realize now that I am wrong, but I also realize that Mike's emphatic comments about how crazy it was that I said this are also rediculous.

"In fact, Ryan believes everyone already thinks Alfy is better than Sundin because when I told him I thought Sundin was better and it wasn't even that close, Ryan told me I'm the only one who thinks that and I'd be hard pressed to find someone to agree with me." - I don't remember saying most of this. I have to lay off the booze before 9 am dry-walling. But is it not possible that the Great Toronto Mike is blinded by his Toronto Maple Leaf Goggles?

Where I was wrong - I should not have compared the careers.I forgot how young Sundin was when he blossomed and as Buf Boy says, Alfredsson came into the NHL later on.

The only thing i am sure of is that the great swede debate of 2008 may favor Mike's corner right now, but as the next 3 to 5 years go by, opinion will sway more and more to my corner.

January 7, 2008 @ 6:39 PM

Ryan

Correction to previous post:

When I said Buff Boy, I meant to refer to Ottawa Mike's comments.

January 7, 2008 @ 6:48 PM

MATS RULES

Mats Sundin is so much better then alfredsson no wait actually hes not better he's the BEST thats why he's the captain if the swedish team when alfredsson is not. Mats has everything skill, leadership, and class something alfredsson knows nothing about and He comes through for the leafs ALL THE TIME thats why hes leading in goals and ponts. And alfredsson will never be ranked at the same level as Mats.

March 24, 2008 @ 10:49 PM

Ed

Well, who was voted "NHL Player of the Month" more often this year?

April 8, 2008 @ 8:45 PM

Jack W

Freddie P, I disagree with you, and your argument is iffy. Yeah, Sundin had 1 goal, but how many points did he have?

May 8, 2008 @ 1:03 PM

Blop

2006 Olympics

Alfie: 4 G, 1 A
Sundin: 1 G, 3 A

Its no secret to anybody who watched the olympics that the Alfredsson, Axlesson, PĂ„hlsson line was what carried Sweden to the gold.
Not bad considering Axlesson and palhson are 3rd line players.

November 2, 2008 @ 3:37 PM

Senny

Hey guys,

When it comes to who met their potential...I have to go with Alfie. I mean Mats was drafted #1, Alfie drafted 133rd. And then Alfie came and won the calder trophy in his rookie year. And this was a time WAY before Spezza and Heatley. So if you want to talk about who has met their potential Mats Sundin has, but Alfredsson has gone above and beyond and completely shattered what was expected of him potential wise in the NHL. Mats Sundin is a great player, no doubt about it. But you must put your pride aside and admit that Alfie is just as good a player as Sundin.

January 8, 2009 @ 12:50 PM

oldmonk

freddy if you wouldn't start an NHL team with Alfie then you know absolutely zero about hockey. your opinion should mean nothing.

March 24, 2009 @ 8:50 PM

Krizhan

I honestly believe that Mats Sundin is better and by the way, the greatest Swedish player is Nicklas Lidstrom. No doubt on that

April 3, 2010 @ 2:45 PM

Luc

I think that alot of Leaf fans have a hate on for Alfredsson since his hit to Tucker and his mocking (of his friend) throwing a broken stick into the crowd. You have to be objective in this, Sundin was a chosen one (1st overall), Alfie was an afterthought (133 6th round). Sundin expected to produce, Alfie expected to help out AHL team. Time will tell, my vote is with Alfredsson.

April 9, 2010 @ 9:58 PM

Josh

Sundin is useless hahaha.. LOOK AT HIM NOW HAHAHAHA!!! he hardly gets any points lol what a peice of garbage..... alfy on the other hand rolls in the points and is always a hard-worker.. always one of the hardest workers for the senators in running with fisher. SMARTEN UP LEAFS FANS, n STOP LIVIN A FANTASY LOL like omg its so ridiculous seeing you people say mats sundin is the best player to have ever played hockey n how he should be the next king of england like wtf come to terms here.. he sucks SO BAD at hockey

January 3, 2011 @ 10:31 PM

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