Record Number of NHL Players of Asian Descent to Start 2021

At the beginning of the 2021 NHL season, there are a record eight players of Asian descent on a NHL roster – a significant increase from the five players of Asian descent at the beginning of the previous 2019-2020 season. These include:

  • Matt Dumba (RD, Minnesota Wild): A top-pairing NHL defenseman and co-founder of the Hockey Diversity Alliance.
  • Nick Suzuki (C, Montreal Canadiens): A breakout play-in tournament performance has been followed up with a stellar start to his sophomore season as a key part of his team’s top six.
  • Kailer Yamamoto (RW, Edmonton Oilers): The young speedy winger has now established himself in the Oilers’ top six, posting 11 goals and 26 points in 27 games last season.
  • Devin Shore (C, Edmonton Oilers): Veteran depth forward in his sixth NHL season after previous stints in Dallas, Anaheim, and Columbus.
  • Jujhar Khaira (LW, Edmonton Oilers): A reliable bottom-six forward for the Oilers in the last three seasons.
  • Kiefer Sherwood (RW, Colorado Avalanche): Currently part of the Avalanche’s taxi squad in his first season with the organization after three seasons with the Ducks and their AHL team.
  • Jason Robertson (LW, Dallas Stars): Made his NHL debut last season after posting an impressive 25 goals and 47 points in 60 AHL games for his rookie professional season.
  • Nick Robertson (LW, Toronto Maple Leafs): Jason’s younger brother who led the OHL in scoring with 55 goals in 46 games before also making his NHL debut in the play-in series.

Suzuki, Yamamoto, and the Robertson brothers are all 22 or younger as the wave of draftees of Asian descent in the 2017-2019 drafts start making their mark on the NHL. The first of hopefully many highlights for Yamomoto and Suzuki for this season:

Also on the radar are a large cohort of youngsters in the AHL:

  • Taro Hirose (LW, DET – Grand Rapids Griffins)
  • Ryan Suzuki (C, CAR – Chicago Wolves)
  • Jett Woo (RD, VAN – Utica Comets)
  • Jonathan Ang (C, FLR – Springfield Thunderbirds)
  • Dylan Sikura (W, VGK – Henderson Silver Knights)
  • Cliff Pu (RW, CBJ – Cleveland Monsters)
  • Mitchell Vande Sompel (LD, NYI – Bridgeport Sound Tigers)

Due to the pandemic, a larger-than-usual number of players have chosen to play overseas this year, where European leagues have been in various stages of action since 2020. Some of the most prominent of these players of Asian descent include:

  • Brandon Yip (LW, Jukurit-Liiga)
  • Jessica Wong (RD, Shenzhen KRS Rays-Russia WHL)
  • Josh Ho-Sang (RW, Örebro HK-SHL)
  • Oleg Li (LW, Bars Kazan-KHL)
  • Tyler Wong (RW, Kunlun Red Star-KHL)
  • Sena Suzuki (LD, Göteborg HC-SDHL)
  • Pavel Shen (C, HK Sochi-KHL)
  • Leah Lum (F, Shenzhen KRS Rays-Russia WHL)
  • Spencer Foo (RW, Kunlun Red Star-KHL)
  • Parker Foo (LW, Kunlun Red Star-KHL).

A more complete list is located on the database here.