The NHL is a tough environment to play in and some players are lucky enough to spend more than 15 years in this atmosphere. These players are better known as veterans, with more than 500 games of NHL experience, they know exactly how the game of hockey is played and pass these skills onto their younger teammates.
As these veterans age, their stats start to decline and they are not the same player that they used to be back when they entered their prime. However, there are exceptions to this rule as Jaromir Jagr seems to be playing like someone half his age. But even a Jagr will have his career come to an end as the body of a hockey player can only take so much.
Many of these players do not wish to leave the hockey world so easily. This is why we see some of these players take coaching positions or become part of the management staff of the team they played for, noted that this is their last option as most of these players usually play until there is no longer a need for their services on one of the 31 current NHL teams. Nonetheless, it would be a shame to see these players leave the game of hockey and having them mentor young players really allows these veterans to remain active in the NHL world.
It does sadden many to see their childhood heroes hang up the skates. The game of hockey is constantly changing and players' bodies are being put to the test against their vigorous opponents. All in all, the careers of these talented veteran players will not be forgotten and their legacy will live on with the team(s) that they played for.
15 Shane Doan
Shane Doan is a fan favorite for the Arizona Coyotes. Having spent over 21 years and 1,540 career games in the NHL, Shane might soon have to consider hanging up the skates for good.
Doan is now 40 years of age and may be hitting the free agency market as his one-year deal signed in July of 2016 is nearing its end. His production has dropped drastically in the 2016-17 season as he only netted 6 goals in 74 games, a huge downfall from his 28 goal campaign from the previous season. His fate in the NHL all depends on whether or not the Yotes wish to resign him as there may not be another NHL team that could use his services. But no matter what that fate will be, his number will surely be retired by the Coyotes organization.
14 Jaromir Jagr
Unfortunately, Jamomir Jagr does appear on this list. At 45 years of age, Jagr seems to be playing like a young forward but at the end of each season, he must ask himself if he should play one more season.
Jagr is in need of a new contract in the upcoming offseason as his one-year, $4 million deal has come to an end. He has shown a slight decline this season with only 46 points in 82 games, 20 points less than his previous season. With two Stanley Cup rings, five Art Ross trophies and three Ted Lindsay awards, Jagr is quite the decorated player and his legacy will live on for generations. Jagr has said he wants to play hockey until he's 50 but if he doesn't get the deal he wants this offseason, there's always a chance he decides to walk away.
13 Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla was one of the best players to ever put on a Calgary Flames jersey. Sixteen years and 1,219 games is what how long he spent in Calgary and during that span he put up two 50 goal campaigns and a career high 98 points in a single season.
As Jarome aged, his production seems to have collapsed quite a bit. At 39 years old, his latest stints with the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings only saw him put up a total of 27 points in 80 games. With his three-year deal coming to an end, Iginla may look to retirement as an option to end his distinguished career. The Flames will surely retire his number due to the fact that he excelled at captaining his former team for many years.
12 Michal Rozsival
Michal Rozsival is a two time Stanley Cup champion who has spent more than 15 years and 900 games in the NHL. Many people don’t realize that at 38 years of age, Michal is still on the Chicago Blackhawks roster. He has played there for the last five seasons and has helped his team in the postseason as well.
Rozsival is currently dealing with facial fractures which requires him to undergo surgery. With his one-year deal with the Hawks coming to an end and little to no demand for an aging defender, Michal may have no other choice but to hang up the skates and call it a career. A remarkable career indeed as his prime years were spent in New York where he posted 30-40 point seasons for many consecutive years.
11 Andrei Markov
Andrei Markov has spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. As of right now, he has just finished his 16th NHL season but the Habs got knocked off by the New York Rangers in the first round.
Markov has been a consistent player throughout his career. He has posted up to 64 points in a single season and even at 38 years of age, he managed to put up 36 points while manning the Montreal defensive top four unit. But age is catching up to him and he has dealt with nagging injuries. With his three-year deal coming to an end, Andrei may look to retirement. Markov has constantly said he wants to be a Canadien for life, but how much would the Habs be willing to pay the 38-year-old when they have the likes of Carey Price and Alex Radulov to re-sign? If Markov can't get the deal he wants from Montreal, he might decide to just walk away altogether.
10 Brian Campbell
The Chicago Blackhawks are notorious for having a few veteran defensemen on the roster. One of those is currently Brian Campbell.
Campbell spent the majority of his career in Buffalo and Florida where he excelled at maintaining control of the defensive zone as well as providing some nifty play on the offensive end, hence his 504 points in 1,082 career games. The Hawks were lucky to pick up his services for only $1.5 million but Campbell's contract is set to expire by the end of this season and with a cap crunch coming up for Chicago, it may be hard to find a new home for this talented defender. Hopefully, he does play a few more years to add on to his already decorated career.
9 Chris Neil
Chris Neil’s dedication to the Ottawa Senators organization is exceptional. For 15 seasons, Neil has been providing grit for the Sens by protecting his teammates and excelling at his role as the enforcer of the team.
Neil is not only an enforcer, but he is able to put the puck in back of the net from time to time. He has scored 10 or more goals in a single season five times in his career but as of right now, Neil is nearing his 38th birthday and his stats have declined dramatically. The recent season saw him score just 1 goal in 53 games, along with just 108 hits and 63 penalty minutes, a massive decline from his usual 200+ hits and 150+ penalty minutes. Neil’s career is coming to an end but his play on the Senators will not be forgotten.
8 Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara’s presence on the ice is feared by many. At 6-foot-9, this beastly defender is able to shoot the puck with blazing speed, deliver powerful hits and block shots in his defensive zone. He also has captained the Boston Bruins for the past 10 years.
Chara has many skills and these talents have helped the Bruins acquire a Stanley Cup in 2011. All of this aside, Zdeno has entered his 40s and his playing time may be coming to an end. He has one more year left on his 7-year deal with Boston and Chara’s fate after that remains unknown. Zdeno plays in more than 70 games each season so it is completely up to him if he wishes to put his body through more.
7 Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller is a Vezina winning goaltender who spent most of his career on the Buffalo Sabres. His 11-year tenure on the Sabres has put him at the top of the all-time wins column for his team.
Miller currently plays on the Vancouver Canucks and is on the last year of his 3-year deal. He may enter free agency and at 36 years of age, the market for this veteran goaltender might be scarce as some teams are not willing to shell out the big bucks that Miller may want. Miller’s stats are not necessarily bad. In fact, they are quite good as his latest season saw him put up a respectable .914 save percentage. It is hard to predict what Miller’s future will be but retirement is something he might be looking at.
6 Mike Ribeiro
Mike Ribeiro spent his career on a total of five different teams. In that 17-year period, Ribeiro has put up some great seasons including his career high 83 points in the 2007-08 season.
Ribeiro is now 37 years of age and he is no longer able to put up those 80+ point seasons. The current season saw him put up only 4 goals in 46 games with the Nashville Predators. This earned him a demotion to Nashville’s AHL affiliate and he went unclaimed through waivers. With his contract expiring this offseason, the fact that Ribeiro was not claimed by another NHL team through waivers shows that there may be little to no interest in this talented veteran forward. If Mike does choose to retire, he will end his great career with 793 points in 1,074 games.
5 David Clarkson
David Clarkson showed signs of excellence after he notched 30 goals in the 2011-12 season with the New Jersey Devils. The Toronto Maple Leafs took note of this and offered him a lucrative seven-year, $36.75 million contract.
Clarkson would not live up to anywhere near this contract. His highest point total has been just 15 points since the signing of that deal. Clarkson now faces a chronic back injury which has made him miss a lot of playing time. He also failed his physical before the start of the 2016-17 season. All of this begs the question to whether Clarkson’s time in the NHL is nearing an end. If this injury does continue to nag him, he might be forced to end his career before he even hits his mid 30s.
4 Jordin Tootoo
Jordin Tootoo is yet another veteran forward who is currently in the Chicago Blackhawks organization. A career bottom-six forward, Tootoo is a gritty forward who can sometimes provide some offensive rewards.
Tootoo’s latest stint with the Hawks could have been much better. With only 2 goals and 52 hits in 50 games played, Tootoo is looking less effective in the lineup. All of this aside, the Hawks actually extended his deal for one more year but his fate after that may not be the same. The market for gritty veteran forwards is quite low and if the Hawks aren’t the team to resign him after that, he might have no choice but to hang up the skates. At 34 years old, Tootoo’s options look quite limited.
3 Matt Cullen
Matt Cullen has been a workhouse for eight different teams throughout his career. He has also won two Stanley Cups and his most recent effort in the 2016 Stanley Cup win with the Pittsburgh Penguins was quite remarkable.
At 40 years old, Cullen seems to still have it in him to produce. He netted 13 goals and 18 assists in the current season and is now helping the Pens to another potential successful playoff run. He is also nearing the end of his one-year deal and Matt might call it quits at the end of the postseason. A great career and a very talented forward is what Cullen will be remembered as and all of the teams he has played for can vouch for this.
2 Mark Streit
Mark Sreit is another veteran player that is currently playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Acquired at the trade deadline, the 39-year-old Streit has much to offer in the offensive zone.
Streit began his career in Montreal where he posted a career high 62 points in a single season. He then moved on to the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers where he continued to excel at his role on the backend. As time went on, his stats started to decline in accordance to his age and at this point of his career, he might consider retirement as his contract is coming to an end. There may not be a need for a 40-year-old defensemen when free agency hits and therefore Streit is faced with a tough career decision.
1 Brian Gionta
Brian Gionta is a skilled forward who was part of the New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup team of 2003. Aside from this, Gionta has captained the Montreal Canadiens and the Buffalo Sabres, who he currently plays for.
His 15 year NHL tenure is outlined by the career high 48 goals and 89 points that he put up in the 2005-06 season. Gionta is currently 38 years of age and his stats are nowhere near what he used to put up more than 10 years ago. His recent season did see him net 15 goals and 35 points but on a Buffalo Sabres team that is nearing the end of their rebuild, Gionta might not have enough gas left in the tank to continue serving the Sabres. He is also on the last year of his three-year, $12.75 million contract and it is not hard to speculate that the Sabres do not wish to pay $4.25 million a year for 15 goals.