Who are the Oldest Players in the NHL

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The National Hockey League is full of talented hockey players, and as it is a collision sport where contact is not only expected but often essential to gameplay, it tends to shorten the life of a professional’s career – at least when compared to people who have a 9-to-5 job.

So it’s no surprise there aren’t a ton of NHL players in their late 30s or early 40s. We took a look at each NHL roster to discover the oldest players lacing their skates in the NHL.

Ageless Action

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Some say legends never die, and that just may be the case for 45-year-old veteran and oldest active NHL player, Jaromir Jagr. “The Ageless Wonder” currently suits up for the Calgary Flames but achieved the most success as a Pittsburgh Penguin – securing two NHL championship victories.

When the Minnesota Wild signed Matt Cullen this offseason after he decided against retirement, they weren’t signing an unfamiliar player to the team – Cullen, age 40, spent three seasons with the team several years ago and is also a native of the state. Over his 19-season career, he’s spent time on several teams, including the most recent Stanley Cup winners, the Pittsburgh Penguins (oh, and he was on the Pens the cup-winning year before that as well, and won the cup during the 2005-06 season with Carolina).

The third oldest NHL player is Zdeno Chara, age 40. Chara was drafted 56th overall in 1996 by the New York Islanders and has played for two other teams, including his current squad, the Boston Bruins. He’s a seven-time All-Star select and won the Stanley Cup with his current team in 2011.

Fourth on our list is Mark Streit, age 39, of the Montreal Canadiens. He was also a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins team (along with Matt Cullen) that won the most recent Stanley Cup. Streit was drafted in 2004 by the Canadiens but has spent time with a few other teams.

Fifth in line is Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks. Hossa is 38 and has been in the league since he was drafted in 1997 by the Ottawa Senators. Hossa is also a three-time Stanley Cup champion – 2010, 2013, and 2015. He’s also one of only 45 NHL players to join the exclusive 500-goal club.

No. 6 is Roberto Luongo, a goaltender who laces up for the Florida Panthers at age 38. This two-time All-Star was drafted fourth overall in 1997 by the New York Islanders and has played for a variety of teams. This go-around with the Panthers, in fact, is his second stint with the team.

Jason Chimera (38, New York Islanders), Joe Thornton (38, San Jose Sharks), Patrick Marleau (38, Toronto Maple Leafs), make up the seventh, eighth, and ninth slots, respectively.

At age 38, Chris Kunitz (left wing for the Tampa Bay Lightning) is the youngest “oldest” NHL player on our top ten list.

The Oldest NHL All-Stars

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The NHL All-Star Game has a different format than the all-pro games of other professional sports. Since 2016, players from all four divisions make up four distinct All-Star teams: Pacific, Central, Atlantic, and Metropolitan. The game features a 3-on-3 tournament format and is divided into three 20-minute games, where the players compete in a single elimination tournament.

Who were the oldest players in last season’s All-Star Game then? For the Atlantic team, Frans Nielsen, then 33 year old (now age 34), took that honor. Nielsen was drafted in 2002 by the New York Islanders and spent many seasons there, recently relocating to Detroit to play with the Red Wings in 2016.

For the Central Division, Duncan Keith was the oldest at age 33 (now age 34). Keith has spent his entire professional career with the Chicago Blackhawks and was a part of their last three Stanley Cup titles. This was his third All-Star appearance and probably won’t be his last as he has continued to produce even as the years tack on.

Alexander Ovechkin, now age 32, was the youngest “oldest” All-Star (at 31 years old) last season as he suited up for the Metropolitan Division. He’s spent 12 seasons with one team – the Washington Capitals – and has been selected to the All-Star team a whopping 11 times. Ovechkin has received the Maurice Richard Trophy six times (awarded to the top scorer) and the Calder Memorial Trophy his rookie year (which is essentially the “rookie of the year” award in the NHL). It’s safe to say his return to the All-Star Game is pretty likely.

For the Pacific Division, Mike Smith was the oldest at age 34 (now age 35). Currently playing for the Calgary Flames, Smith also has the honor of being the 11th goaltender in NHL history to score a goal when he played for the Coyotes.

The Oldest Pros

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Seasoned veterans can make a huge contribution to a team, both in the locker room and on the ice. Forty-year-old Matt Cullen, for example, returns to the Minnesota Wild as an experienced player, a Stanley Cup winner, and a local.

Zdeno Chara is another great example of a veteran presence on a team he’s been with for eleven seasons and counting. Showing no signs of slowing down as of late, he’ll continue to contribute.

How about Brooks Orpik? The 37-year-old Washington Capitals player won the 2009 Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins and will likely continue to play at a high level in the upcoming season.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Columbus Blue Jackets is a pretty young team – their oldest player is Brandon Dubinsky, age 31. He was drafted in 2004 by the New York Rangers, where he played for six seasons before departing for Columbus in 2012.

Grab Some Goals

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Top 10 Oldest Players in the NHL

  1. Jaromir Jagr (45) Calgary Flames
  2. Matt Cullen (40) Minnesota Wild
  3. Zdeno Chara (40) Boston Bruins
  4. Mark Streit (39) Montreal Canadiens
  5. Marian Hossa (38) Chicago Blackhawks
  6. Roberto Luongo (38) Florida Panthers
  7. Jason Chimera (38) New York Islanders
  8. Joe Thornton (38) San Jose Sharks
  9. Patrick Marleau (38) Toronto Maple Leafs
  10. Chris Kunitz (38) Tampa Bay Lightning

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Living Legends: NHL

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The NHL has seen many players take the ice throughout the league’s history, but only a dedicated few have made impressions that will last a lifetime. Pioneers and record breakers, such as Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, and Bobby Hull, have engraved their names in the league forever. However, there is room to share the glory; three current players are breaking sticks and taking names as they vie to become the greatest skaters in NHL history.

The Jagrmeister

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At 43 years old, Florida Panthers right winger Jaromir Jagr is currently the oldest active player in the NHL. Having been in the game for quite some time, Jagr has the accolades to show for it.

During his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jagr won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships (1991 and 1992). He also earned bragging rights for being a nine-time NHL All-Star, five-time Art Ross Trophy winner (earned for scoring the most points), and is third in the league for all-time goals. Presently, Jagr is the current active leader for games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, and game-winning goals

Pittsburgh saw immediate talent in young Jagr after picking him up in the first round of the 1990 NHL draft. The right winger spent 11 seasons in Pittsburgh before playing on several more teams throughout his career. As of right now, Jagr is featured in the starting lineup for the Florida Panthers in his 23rd NHL season.

Jagr’s career is similar to the one experienced by Hall of Famer Gordie Howe. During his tenure with the league, Howe played for 32 seasons and retired at the age of 52 making him the oldest player to suit up in the NHL. Some of Jagr’s other career stats match closely with Hall of Famer Joe Sakic and Finnish winger Teemu Selanne. There’s no doubt that he will join these legends in the Hall of Fame once he retires.

Ovechkin the Great

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Alexander Ovechkin is a Russian-born hockey player known for his aggressive play style as well as scoring goals. Ovechkin was picked up in the first round by the Washington Capitals during the 2004 NHL draft and has continued to stick with the D.C. team. Ovie’s dedication has not gone unnoticed. He became the team captain for the Caps in early 2010.

Ovechkin is determined to win the Stanley Cup and has earned many accolades along the way. He is the current active leader for goals per game and hat tricks, in addition to being a six-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner (most goals). He is also a five-time NHL All-Star and a three-time Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player) and Hart Memorial Trophy winner (most valuable player).

There’s no doubt that Alex Ovechkin can be compared to several legends, such as Mario Lemieux, Phil Esposito, and Howie Morenz. All three of these greats have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Chances of Ovechkin joining them? Pretty high, considering he’s showing no signs of slowing down as he works to finish, and hopefully extend, his 13-year contract with the Caps.

King Henrik

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Three-time NHL All-Star Henrik Lundqvist was picked up in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL draft by the New York Rangers – the team he remains with today. Lundqvist received his nickname “King Henrik” from fans who witnessed his greatness during his rookie season, where he boasted incredible on-ice stats.

During his time in the Big Apple, Lundqvist made a name for himself at Madison Square Garden. The stats he put out throughout his rookie season earned him a spot on the 2005–2006 NHL All-Rookie Team. The King was also named the 2011–2012 Vezina Trophy winner for being the top goalie in the league. He is the second current active goalie leader for games played, wins, shutouts, and minutes.

Lundqvist’s play style and stats are similar to other NHL greats, such as the likes of Tony Esposito, Curtis Joseph, and Dominik Hasek. Two of these three legendary goalies have been inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame. The Rangers have made sure the King will be around for a very long time – they offered him a seven-year contract extension in 2013. He has more than enough time to extend his legacy in the city that never sleeps.

Some Legends Never Die

As the old saying goes, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” That’s why it is paramount to witness these greats in their prime. If you haven’t already, make it a priority to catch these legends in action. There’s no telling what time has in store for them, but one thing is for certain they have secured their spot as NHL legends.

No matter who you’re a die-hard fan of Jagr, Ovechkin, or Lundqvist – be sure to stock up on their latest gear. Fanatics has got you covered from head to toe in NHL gear, of course so you can support the legend of your choice.  

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