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