FanHouse's Adam Gretz takes a look at his top 50 players in the NHL. No. 39 is Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen.
Including a player in the top-40 that has never tallied 60 points in a single season is likely to cause some confusion -- and angry fist shaking -- among fans outside the Motor City. But over the past two seasons there haven't been many goal-scorers better than the man known as "The Mule."
One of the many great finds by Hakan Anderson in the Detroit scouting department, Franzen was plucked out of Linkoping HC of the Swedish Elite League as a 24-year-old during the 2004 draft. Like many Red Wings prospects, he was eased into the lineup during his first two years in the league, and since the start of the 2007-08 season, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward has scored 86 goals in 182 games (including playoffs).
If there's one knock against him it's that he tends to get injured quite a bit, but when you're standing in front of the net taking abuse every night, and doing dirty work along the boards, the injuries are going to mount. When he's on the ice, he's established himself as a goal-scoring, mouthguard stealing machine around the net.
Draft Year: 2004
Taken in the third round, 97th overall, only two players selected in his class have more goals at this time: Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.
Why He's On My List
One of the best power forwards in the league, and nearly impossible to move off the puck down low and along the boards, Franzen also a knack for scoring seemingly impossible goals. Over the past two seasons he's been one of the best goal-scorers in the playoffs, and has been a key cog in Detroit's back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final, and I'll admit, this had a big influence in my decision to put him in this spot. No Detroit Red Wings player has scored more goals in a single playoff run than Franzen's 13 (in just 16 games!) in 2007-08, which has to be worth something given that franchise's history. He's the type of player you want, and need, on your team if you're playing for the Stanley Cup.
Obligatory YouTube Video
One of the best goals of the season, Franzen pounces on a turnover in the neutral zone and embarrasses Montreal's Ryan O'Byrne.