Retirement is a huge step for any athlete including Hockey Players. Some sportsmen are forced to retire long before their time due to injury such as the great Bobby Orr and some hang on until the last drop of sweat is pushed from their brow onto the ice after a third of a century at the game like Gordie Howe. Many players shed a tear as they gather in front of cameras and hold press conferences announcing to the world that their time is up playing the sport they love, a sport that began merely as a game on an outdoor pond in some windswept town, and some just quietly pack their bags after a season or two and head down to the minors to coach.
For every player there comes a time to call it quits wether they know it or not. Conveniently for the current NHL roster players for all 31 teams I’ve compiled a list of who should be the next to go! I came to my conclusions not just on the bias of age, but mostly factored in plummeting point production, effective play based on their Plus/Minus rating, health, and how well they fill a role on a team. So kick back and enjoy a good read… as every single one of the players on this list should do off the ice next season.
31. Anaheim Ducks: Kevin Bieksa
Kevin Bieksa is a veteran D-man who has played a lot of hard minutes over his 13 year career in the NHL. Known for his physical play and chippy attitude, Bieksa has played against some of the best forwards the league has had to offer most nights. Playing the majority of his career with Vancouver, Kevin took a trip to the Stanley Cup finals but fell 1 game short of a championship in 2010-2011 when the Canucks lost to the Bruins in game 7. In 2015-2016 Bieksa took his services down the West Coast to Anaheim but just hasn’t been putting up the numbers on a strong D-core. The 36-year-old hasn’t had a Plus+ Plus/Minus rating in the past 4 seasons and this years doesn’t look any different. Time to get a beach chair Bieksa.
30. Arizona Coyotes: Brad Richardson
On a terrible, young hockey team it’s nice to have an older presence to help get the kids out of bed in the morning and remind them that as the team grows the wins will start to come eventually…right? But how long can 32-year-old Brad Richardson be that guy for the Arizona Coyotes? After only playing 16 games for the desert dogs last season Richardson now has an ‘A’ on his chest despite having 6-points in 35-games played this year (he had 9 last year in half that amount). Brad’s had a good run of 13 seasons with 4 different NHL teams but at some point you need to step away and let someone else be the whipping boy for the long term rebuild that is happening in Arizona.
29. Boston Bruins: David Backes
Some might think it’s time for Zdeno Chara to call it quits but at age 40 he still hasn’t had a Minus- season since he was 29! David Backes has been a warrior in the NHL for quite some time and had great success on a strong St. Louis team for years. His point production slipped down to 45 points in 79 games with Blues during the 2015-2016 regular season and slipped further to 38 points in 74 games his first year with the Bruins last season in which he also saw his face-off win percentage drop below 50.00% for the first time in half a decade. To make matters worse he has faced two bouts of Diverticulitis (inflammation of the colon) the second of which saw Backes undergo surgery to remove part of his colon this year. At 33-years-old your health comes first.
28. Buffalo Sabres: Josh Gorges
Gorges was once a staple on the Montreal Canadiens blue line playing solid minutes. Never the biggest scorer, he was a constant help on D putting up a Plus+35 during his 7 seasons with the Habs. Once he moved to Buffalo for the 2014-2015 season he has been unspectacular. A collective Minus-37 during his time with the Sabres and contributing only 25 points the past four seasons is enough to make anyone wonder what he’s still doing lacing up every night. Sure it’s nice to have an experienced defender around on a young rebuilding team but the Sabres have a number of back-enders in their late 20’s to compliment a growing core of young upstarts. I’m not sure Josh has many more miles in his skates before he realizes it’s time to stem the decline and kick back with a drink in hand.
27. Calgary Flames: Jaromir Jagr
Jagr is timeless, but it is time for the 45-year-old to graciously stand aside and ascend into the pantheon of the greatest athletes of all time (regardless of which sport). Jaromir is 2nd all time in points in the NHL… not for active players… or a single position… or nationality… ALL TIME!, in a league that just celebrated 100 years. Second only to Wayne Gretzky, with 1921 points, Jagr stands triumphant over the game itself and could probably play another few years despite early injury problems this season with the Flames but has publicly said that this will probably be his last year in the NHL. He might very well retire from the big leagues and head home to the Czech Republic after this season and play for a team that HE OWNS! How many players can say that?
26. Carolina Hurricanes: Lee Stempniak
Stempniak has been a moderate point contributor for many teams around the league including St.Louis, Toronto, Phoenix, Calgary, Pittsburgh, New York (Rangers), Winnipeg, New Jersey, Boston, and now… Carolina… and he’s only been in the league for 12 years! The 34-year-old had a decent year with the Carolina Hurricanes last season although he saw a decline in points from 2015-2016, but it’s this current season that has many thinking it’s time to check out of the big leagues and stop jumping from town to town. Stempniak hasn’t played a game in the 2017-2018 season due to two injuries. Just when he thought he could get skating again after a back injury he suffered another injury in his first conditioning game in the AHL, the minors! Never the healthiest player, it may be time for Lee to bid farewell and let his body rest.
25. Chicago Blackhawks: Marian Hossa
Hossa is one of the most accomplished players in NHL history and has been around the league for 20 years. In fact he ranks 54th all time with 1134 points which is an incredible stat! He has won the Stanley Cup 3 times with the Chicago Blackhawks and is known as one of the great teammates in the game going to the Stanley Cup Finals 3 years in a row with 3 different teams. Unfortunately this year Marian has been sidelined by adverse side effects to medication he takes to treat a progressive skin disorder that he has been treating for years. His point production has still been great late in his career but sitting out an entire season at age 38 might be to big of a hurdle to overcome. As much as we’d like to see Hossa on the ice again, it might be the end for him.
24. Colorado Avalanche: Blake Comeau
Comeau has been kicking around the league for the past 10 years playing for 5 different teams with pretty minimal results only breaking the 40 point barrier once in 2010-2011 with the Islanders. Blake might be having a bit of a bounce back season this year with the Avs but let’s not forget he was part of one of the worst teams in the modern era in Colorado last season. From 2011 to 2014 he had 4 crumby seasons with Calgary and Columbus putting up only 43 points. He bounced back a little with Pittsburgh in 2014-2015 but his point production is again on the decline over the past three seasons and he’s a Minus-19 in that time. His age of 31 tells me that even if he manages to put up ok numbers this year it’s not long before he’s out of the league regardless.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets: Nick Foligno
Nick Foligno… I guess? It was impossible to pick a roster player from the Columbus Blue Jackets for this list, which is a scary prospect for the rest of the league. After coming within 2 wins of breaking the NHL’s longest win streak record last season, the Jackets look just as strong this season. Columbus carries a strong, young D paired with a very hardworking, point-spreading offence, and an annual Vezina trophy candidate with Bobrovsky in net. I honestly don’t think the Blue Jackets would miss their Captain on the that much with the young scorers they have up front, including the explosive Artemi Panarin. Nick’s been one of their only Minus- players the past two seasons and he’s over 30-years-old, and sure he could probably find work on another team… but this list is about retirement… So Foligno has got to go!
22. Dallas Stars: Marc Methot
Methot is probably not going to be my most popular pick on this list, but I do think it’s time for the 32-year-old to call it a day after a whirlwind offseason. After Dion Phaneuf refused to waive his no-trade-clause with Ottawa, Methot was left exposed to be picked in the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knight who quickly flipped him to Dallas for a 2nd round pick. Methot is best known for being annual Norris Trophy nominee Erik Karlsson’s D partner with the Senators where he played it safe and put up almost no points, but had a high Plus+ rating playing beside the highest scoring defenseman in recent memory. But let’s not forget he’s been injured each of the last 4 seasons and with Dallas he once again won’t play a full season due to injury and has slipped into the Minus- column.
21. Detroit Red Wings: Niklas Kronwall
Detroit has to really jumpstart a rebuild in the near future after missing the playoffs for the first time in a quarter of a century last season, but they haven’t been making moves to get any younger. Henrik Zetterberg may never retire, but one Swede that’s more harm than good on the blue line is Niklas Kronwall. Kronwall is now 36 and his point production has gone down in the past four seasons bottoming out at 13 points last year compared to 49 points in 2013-2014. But the main reason I think Nik should call it quits is the fact that he HASN’T HAD A Plus+ RATING IN THE PAST SEVEN SEASONS! He’s a great leader and has history with the team but it’s time for him to retire with the only franchise he’s ever played for.
20. Edmonton Oilers: Michael Cammalleri
Cammalleri can still light the lamp and put up decent points but he is starting to slow down and at 35-years-old once your point production starts to trail off it rarely comes back to form. Michael might also want to start thinking about his body. He hasn’t really played a full season without missing 20 games or so with injuries since 2008-2009 and in those years he’s become somewhat of a defensive liability slipping heavily into the Minus- side of the Plus/Minus spectrum. Jumping between 3 teams in the last 2 seasons Cammalleri has landed with the struggling Oilers and if he can’t really turn his production around and help the slumping pre-season playoff hopefuls he might want to think about calling it a career.
19. Florida Panthers: Derek MacKenzie
Derek MacKenzie has been around the NHL since the 2003-2004 season, but only became a full time big league player when he signed with Florida in 2014 and he’s now the Panthers Captain, good for him, but his time has got to be coming to an end. Since sticking around in the NHL on a full time basis Derek has never once scored more than 23 points, and that was in 2010-2011 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, not even the current team he’s the Captain of! in his 4 years with Florida he is a collective Minus-23 and as of yet has not scored a goal for the Panthers this year in 29 games. It may been time to take a long, hard look at that ‘C’ on your chest and pass it off to Aaron Ekblad before you hang up your jersey Derek.
18. Los Angeles Kings: Jussi Jokinen
Jokinen came over to Los Angeles Kings this year in a trade with Edmonton that sent fellow list member Michael Cammalleri to the Oilers, small world! The two teams swapped aging former producers for some reason that I can’t quite explain, probably because the Oilers thought Cammi might spark some offence and LA was clipping along nicely despite Mike so it might as well be Jussi playing no minutes in La La Land. Regardless, Jokinen has had a fine 13 year career where he peaked as a shootout specialist (thank god that’s almost over) and a solid 2/3rd line scorer. After this one last season where he’ll be buried on a strong, mid-aged Kings team the 34-year-old should probably take one last uncontested shootout shot, miss for once, and say goodbye.
17. Minnesota Wild: Matt Cullen
Matt Cullen is a great journeyman Centre that needs to look back on his 20 year career in the NHL and wave goodbye. Cullen has played for 8 different big league teams (2 of them twice, Carolina and Minnesota) and has done a great job at every stop winning face-offs and shutting down other teams top players. Matt has 3 Stanley Cup rings to his name coming a decade apart (1 with Carolina in 2005-2006 and 2 back to back with Pittsburgh in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017) but surely it has to be time for the 41-year-old to ride off into the sunset with his championship hardware. His face-off percentage has dropped 4% this year and he’s looking at his first Minus- season in recent memory. This time age is a factor and Cullen can be proud of the work he’s done.
16. Montreal Canadiens: Antti Niemi
Antti Niemi may finally be ready to step aside if this season continues to go the way it is going. Niemi has been a number one goalie for numerous teams including a Stanley Cup win with the Chicago Blackhawks (the first Finnish goalie to win a Cup!). He has also been the starter for the San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars. During his career Niemi has a respectable 2.52 goals against average and a save percentage of .912, nothing to laugh about. However, during the 2017-2018 season Niemi has already played for 3 different clubs, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Florida Panthers, and now the Montreal Canadiens. He has 4 losses and 0 wins with a goals against average of 5.20 and a save percentage floundering at .856. It may be time to hang up your pads and start shining that championship ring before things get much worse Antii.
15. Nashville Predators: Scott Hartnell
Hartnell started his career in Nashville and it seems fitting that he should end it while he’s back with the Preds. The 35-year-old has had an exciting career and is best known for his gritty play with the Philadelphia Flyers where his curly orange hair often grew out and matched the bright orange of the Flyers jersey. Scott has had many productive years but now it seems like the consistent 50/60 point getter is on the decline when it comes to the score sheet. Hartnell can be a nice role-player for the Preds this season but over the past 3 with Columbus his points total has dropped by 10 points every year and they don’t come back at his age. Scott is on track for 25 points this season so basic math tells us that his time is all but up.
14. New Jersey Devil: Drew Stafford
Drew Stafford has never played a full 82 game season in his career in the NHL and during those 12 years he has been a mediocre player. Drew has only reached the 50 point plateau twice, in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, and has since then failed to reach 40 points in any one campaign. Also since those 50 point seasons Drew has been a collective Minus-74 and he’s had a tough time staying healthy. This year with a great Devils team that has a solid mix of youth and veterans, Stafford has 8 points in 30 games and is Minus-10. His teammate Brian has played 24 games with 15 points and is a Plus+2… and Brian Boyle just went through treatment for Leukaemia! Drew, I think it’s time to look around and step back from the bigs and let the Devils keep getting better.
13. New York Islanders: Steve Bernier
Stever Bernier, a pesky Winger, has brought energy and grit to 5 NHL teams (San Jose, Buffalo, Vancouver, Florida, New Jersey) before landing with the Islanders, but since his arrival in New York he has only played 27 games with the big club in two seasons after playing 67 games with the Devils through the 2014-2015 season. In those 27 games he has only contributed 6 points. At age 38, Jason Chimera has proven to be a more productive NHLer than Bernier, 6 years his junior! The Islanders have plenty of grit on the ice with the Cal Clutterbuck doing Steve’s job better then he ever has. There’s just no room for Steve on the Island and I’m not sure the 32-year-old will find another home in the NHL. Time to call it a day Bernier.
12. New York Rangers: Ondrej Pavelec
It’s time for Pavelec to hang up the pads. Throughout his career he has been a below .500 goalie in wins with a save percentage that dances around .900 and a rising goals against average that topped out at 3.55 last season. Pavelec was heralded as the future net minder for the Atlanta Thrashers club before they relocated to Winnipeg and he did hold the net with the franchise for 7 seasons on and off but he was never the goalie the team needed to take the next step. After his departure this season to New York, the Jets have become a dominant team in the West while he sits on the bench behind Henrik Lundqvist. Pavelec only has 2 wins and 4 losses with a solid Rangers team in front of him. It’s time for the 30-year-old to leave the crease before his stats slip even further.
11. Ottawa Senators: Alexandre Burrows
Burrows had a number of glory years with the Vancouver Canucks playing alongside the Sedins and taking a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals during the 2010-2011 campaign in which Alex and his teammates came within one game of the championship, ultimately falling to the Boston Bruins in game 7. Last year Alex finally moved on landed in another Canadian market with the Ottawa Senators where he had 11 points in 20 games played last season. This year the 36-year-old has 6 points in 32 games played and can’t seem to stay out of the box with 35 penalty minutes. Alex is also a minus-1. If burrows can’t find a way to help out his team then there probably isn’t any reason why he shouldn’t take a seat and let the next generation see what they can do with his ice-time.
10. Philadelphia Flyers: Radko Gudas
Radko’s addition to this list is not age or stats related it is responsibility related. There is no room in the game for headhunting and playing dumb about the safety of your co-workers. Radko has been suspended for a total of 19 games since December 2015, his latest a 10 game suspension for a slash to the head of Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault while he was prone on the ice. And when he does get to play, with 490 PM’s over 290 games it means Gudas is almost good for one minor penalty a game. Imagine stepping on the ice knowing you have one short handed situation coming up at any point. There’s a place for fighting in the game. There’s a place for strong play in the game. There isn’t place for Radko Gudas in the game. Time to go bud!
9. Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby
Hear me out on this one. No one on this planet can doubt that Sidney Crosby still plays hockey at an elite level. But like team owner Mario Lemieux, it is tough to fight through this many injuries and come out unaffected later in life. Crosby is already a three time Stanley Cup champion, a league scoring champion, and considered by many to be the best player in the world. If he would hang up his skates right now he would still be a first ballot hall of fame inductee. For these reasons Crosby should at least consider retirement, if only for his long term health. Who knows what another serious head injury could do to his brain? It is an unfortunate reality of the modern NHL, and one he should take very seriously.
8. San Jose Sharks: Joel Ward
A lot of people might think it’s time for Joe Thornton to retire but the 38-year-old is on pace for a 60+ point season and is still recognized as one of the great passers playing today. Unfortunately for Joel Ward he made the list over Jumbo Joe. Ward worked his butt off to break into the NHL full time in 2008-2009 with the Predators at the age of 28 which is unheard of, and Joel has worked hard ever since being a reliable bottom-liner and overall great teammate to have around on some very solid Predators, Capitals, and Sharks teams, but at 37-years-old it’s time for Ward to stop looking over his shoulder and wondering which 20-year-old is going to scoop his job and reflect on a well-deserved career.
7. St. Louis Blues: Kyle Brodziak
Brodziak is a grizzled veteran centre who has made a living plugging away on the bottoms lines of big league clubs trying not to be the weakest link in the chain, and he’s done a good job at it for 13 seasons but surely it’s almost time to stop looking over his shoulder for the next young kid to come take his job. Kyle hasn’t managed more than 20 points in the past 3 seasons and his face-off percentage over his career is below 50% which means he won’t find a job as a utility player. It’s time to look back at those hard working years with the Oilers, the Wild, and finally the Blues and realize it might be time to call his agent and make the announcement after this year.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan Callahan
Callahan is a dim spot on a brilliant Lightning team. Ryan has done little to show his worth over the course of 29 games played this season with only 6 points. What’s worse is that he’s returning from an injury shortened season last year where he only had 18 games played and it looks like he’ll out indefinitely with an upper body injury again! Callahan has only played two full seasons (70+ games) in the last 7 seasons and his point production is inconsistent with his highest total being 54 points during the 2014-2015 season with Tampa (He also reached the 54 point mark with the Rangers in 2011-2012). I would say it’s time for Callahan to ice his broken body and be remembered as a tough Centre to play against before things get much worse.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Dominic Moore
Moore is a journeyman Centre who has stuck around the league as a utility player. He has a consistently high face-off percentage that usually hovers around 55.00%. This year with Toronto he is on pace for another solid face-off year and has 9 points in 27 games played. So Why should Dominic retire? Patrick Marleau, that’s why. Marleau joined the Leafs this year and I’m sorry Dom but there’s not enough room on a young roster ripe with amazing Centres for both and I’m not sure anyone else will have him at his age. Marleau’s face-off percentage is almost identical to that of Moore’s but his point production is double and stands at a much higher ceiling. At age 37 it’s time for Moore to step aside and feel great about the hardworking career that he’s had.
4. Vancouver Canucks: Loui Eriksson
I so very badly wanted to put the Sedins as a double whammy on this list right here… but i just can’t! They’re still on pace for 60+ point seasons each at 37-years-old and have a lot to contribute to a young team on the rebuild. They do plan to end their careers in Vancouver but it won’t be after this season and they’ll probably take a hefty pay cut to stay with the franchise. So… Loui Eriksson, it’s time to go. Eriksson never regained the form that he saw with 3 consecutive 70+ point seasons in Dallas from 2009-2012 and has had some injury hampered seasons since then. He has missed a few games this season and is looking to put up a bout 35 points which never gets better after age 32. Move aside for Vancouver’s young scorers.
3. Vegas Golden Knights: NO ONE!
During the (no Las!) Vegas Golden Knights inaugural season they have shocked the league by sweeping up a great D group in the expansion draft with plenty to spare that they dealt away for future assets. At forward they picked a hard working group of mid-range point producers who are scoring by committee and slowing down better established offences with good body work and positioning. In net they have had stellar play from 3 different goalies this season and now the face of the franchise and 3-time Cup winner, Fluery is back between the pipes. The Knights have 1 roster Forward over the age of 30, 1 roster D-man over the age of 30, and 1 roster goalie over the age of 30. They have 3 games in hand on first place LA in the Pacific sitting 2 points back. NOBODY RETIRE!
2. Washington Capitals: Brooks Orpik
Brooks Orpik has been a solid defender for many great teams including two consecutive Presidents Trophy winning Capitals teams and won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008-2009, but eventually all great defensive defenders break down. Orpik is heading towards his second Minus- season in the last decade which leads me to believe he might think about giving it up. His job is to shut down scorers and when those defenders become Minus- players, they’re not doing their job. This all goes without mentioning the fact that Brooks didn’t score a goal all of last season and hasn’t scored one this year as well. His penalty minutes are sitting at 34pms at 35 games played and should end the season at 70+, his highest total in a decade by far which might indicate the big man is slowing down.
1. Winnipeg Jets: Matt Hendricks
The Jets are a team that’s firing on all cylinders this season which makes it inherently harder to pick any of their players to hang up their skates while on a role, but I must. That pick is Matt Hendricks who, to be fair, looks like he’s going to cruise past his 2016-2017 point total of 7 possibly reaching 20 this year if he’s lucky. Hendricks is another one of those Centres past the age of 35 that has made himself useful by crushing it on face-offs late in his career but it’s time for the old warrior to step out of the dot. Bonus points to Matt for making it to the playoffs with the Oilers last season after getting thrashed around in Edmonton during a legendary rebuild only to get dropped and picked up by the Jets.
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