Age is just a number, they say.
Like a fine wine, so and so gets better with age, some say.
In the NHL, the case is often that when a player gets past the age of 30, he'll decline more and more as the mileage on his body increases. There are a number of NHL players who have defied father time while discovering the Fountain of Youth. This has allowed some of them to play well into their late 30s and early 40s.
However, some NHL players haven't learned that it's time to retire. They stubbornly refuse to hang up the skates and do what's best for them, their team and sometimes their family. They want to keep playing hockey when it's best for their bodies to just retire.
But some guys (you know who), just keep going and going. We don't want them to retire because they keep finding ways to produce. Here's a look at the 20 oldest NHL players - completely ranked based on their production.
20 Shawn Thornton, 39
Shawn Thornton has been in the NHL since 1997, but it's time for the soon-to-be 40-year-old to think about retiring for good. Thornton has made a name for himself as one of the league's top enforcers, with well over 1,000 career penalty minutes. However, Thornton has never been much of a scorer.
He hasn't put up more than 20 points in a season, but it was with the Boston Bruins in 2010-11 when they won the Stanley Cup. In 24 games this season, Thornton has just one goal and one assist with 11 penalty minutes. He's not even a regular any more, and the Florida Panthers are a young team that needs to implement as much youth as possible.
Thornton is one of the top enforcers of his era, but it's time for him to retire and let a younger player take his roster spot.
19 Michal Rozsival, 38
Michal Rozsival has been in the NHL since 1999-2000. The 38-year-old has been a solid second-pairing defenceman for most of his career, and his veteran leadership helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in both 2013 (he had 12 assists in just 27 games), and 2015.
Rozsival has generally been used as a shutdown stay-at-home blueliner, and has a remarkable plus-84 rating throughout his career. Rozsival also has just four goals since the 2011-12 season, and is barely asked to score these days. That means that playing so much defensively takes a toll on the body, and Rozsival is no exception.
He's averaging just 15:12 of ice time per game this season - far and away the lowest of his career. The Blackhawks are in need of injecting more youth on their blue line, and it would make sense for Rozsival to retire after this season. With one assist and a minus-two rating in 14 games, father time has called for Rozsival to retire before long.
18 Chris Neil, 37
Chris Neil is a fan favorite in Ottawa. They drafted him in 1998, though he didn't join the team until the 2001-02 season. Neil recently surpassed 1,000 career games and had a nice celebration from the Senators organization. However, Neil turns 38 years of age in June, and it's time for him to think about retiring for good.
Ottawa will keep Neil for as long as he wants to stay, but the man who has racked up over 2,000 penalty minutes is declining rather quickly. He's averaging just 7:31 minutes of ice time per game after averaging 9:18 last season and 9:44 the season prior. Neil has just one goal and two assists in 2016-17.
The Senators have transitioned into an excellent defensive team, but Neil has a woeful minus-nine rating. Ottawa's going to be patient with him, but Neil really should retire while he's ahead. He's not much of a contributor at this point. But hey, it's been a joy.
17 Vernon Fiddler, 36
Vernon Fiddler has never been more than a checking forward since he broke into the NHL back in the 2002-03 season. He'll turn 37 years of age in May and will surely want to think about retiring. He has just one goal and two assists in 38 games this season with a terrible minus-11 rating.
Fiddler had enjoyed the last two seasons with the Dallas Stars, scoring 25 goals and 51 points over those two campaigns. But he's never scored more than 32 points in a season, and his ice time has gone down over the years. He averaged just 11:38 of ice time a season ago and is playing 12:18 per contest this season.
He's been a solid defensive forward, but Fiddler's age and body are taking a toll on him. If he's not hanging up the skates this summer, then expect it in 2018.
16 Jason Chimera, 37
After the All-Star break, Jason Chimera will need just two more games to reach 1,000 for his career. The 37-year-old has enjoyed a career that dates back to 2000-01, where he's played with the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and now the New York Islanders. He has 10 goals and 18 assists this season, and has a minimal chance of reaching 20 tallies for the second-straight season.
Chimera probably won't come close to the 40 points he scored a season ago with the Capitals, but the Islanders veteran has enjoyed a role of leading the young players. He has averaged 12:43 time on ice - that's close to what he's averaged over the last five seasons.
From what we've seen so far this season, Chimera may have another season or two left in him. That being said, he's most effective as a third-liner, and isn't much of an impact player at this stage of his career.
15 Jarome Iginla, 39
Jarome Iginla is going to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame one day. He scored at least 30 goals every year from 2000-01 to 2011-12, and won the Rocket Richard Trophy twice. The two-time Olympic gold medalist also led the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, though they fell one game short in winning it all.
He's up to 1,520 career games with 617 goals and 1,285 points. Iginla hasn't failed to score 20 goals in an 82-game season since 1997-98, but he has just six goals and 12 points in 46 games so far this season. Iginla will be 40 years old on Canada Day, and is likely retiring at the end of this season.
That being said, Iginla's dangerous wrist shot and leadership make him an effective forward on an otherwise porous Colorado Avalanche team. He's past his prime now, but could be a nice piece to a Stanley Cup contender this spring. Other than that, father time remains undefeated and Iginla is finally experiencing it.
14 Shane Doan, 40
It doesn't feel right putting him on here, but the 40-year old icon of the Arizona Coyotes franchise is seeing a remarkable career enter its twilight moments. Shane Doan has been in the NHL since the 1995-96 season, and is on pace for just seven goals and 26 points this season. Those would be his lowest since 1998-99.
Doan's Coyotes are the NHL's second-worst team this year, and it's disappointing to see him regress after scoring 28 goals and 47 points last season. He's likely going to fall short of 1,000 career points (he has 960), but did become part of the 400-goal club earlier in the season.
Doan is willing to accept a trade to a Stanley Cup contender, though his family seems to love Arizona. That being said, he's no longer as effective as he once was. Expect Doan to be traded at the deadline, and then he'll retire in the offseason.
13 Matt Cullen, 40
Matt Cullen turned 40 years of age in November, yet he's found a way to play a significant role on a Pittsburgh Penguins team built entirely on speed. He was a key contributor to the 2016 Stanley Cup champions, scoring 16 goals and 32 points. Cullen has been in the NHL since making the jump in 1997-98 with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
Cullen remains a useful forward, with eight goals and 17 points so far this season. He's still as fast as he was 10 years ago (maybe a slight exaggeration, we know), but hasn't shown any signs of needing to retire. He's paying 13:16 a game, and could very well play another year if he so desires.
But Cullen isn't quite as effective as he was 10 years ago, when he was getting close to 20 goals and 50 points per season. He's a good leader and quality third-liner, but Cullen isn't making the impact he used to. That's expected at age 40.
12 Brooks Orpik, 36
Brooks Orpik has been one of the league's most underrated blueliners over the past 10 years. The 36-year-old has just 16 goals and 171 points in 871 career games (and counting). However, he's posting an insane plus-27 so far this season, and is a huge reason the Washington Capitals are holding the NHL's best record.
Orpik is closing in on 900 career penalty minutes, and is playing 18:01 minutes a game this season against the opponents' top line. His value goes beyond the score sheet, as his toughness and physical style has been a major success under head coach Barry Trotz. It's amazing what he's doing given his style of play and mileage on the body.
There's no reason to believe Orpik is going to retire any time soon. He's a key piece of the Capitals juggernaut that's vying for its first Stanley Cup.
11 Mark Streit, 39
Mark Streit is a classic example of how you're never too old for anything - including playing in the NHL. Born on Dec. 11, 1977, Streit didn't make his debut until Oct. 8, 2005 against the Toronto Maple Leafs (as a member of the Montreal Canadiens).
The Swiss native has been underrated for most of his career. He's scored double-digit goals in five different seasons and has 426 points in 753 career games. Streit has reached 40-plus points in six different occasions and remains a standout on the Philadelphia Flyers blue line.
But with five goals and 19 points this season, Streit is on pace for 35 points. He had 23 all of last season, and that is a far cry from the 52 points he put up in 2014-15. Streit's journey to the NHL was a unique one, but his playing days are almost over. He has a minus-seven rating and his 19:43 time on ice per game is his lowest in nine years. Streit remains a useful veteran, but not much more at that.
10 Mike Ribeiro, 37
We are seeing one of the more underrated players of his era succumb to father time. Mike Ribeiro has 228 career goals and 793 points and has 10 50-point seasons under his belt and has hit 70 points in three different campaigns. But the 37-year-old center has seen his stats take a major dip this season.
Ribeiro has just four goals and 25 points so far in 2016-17, and is on pace to finish with just 43 points, which would be his lowest since the 2002-03 season. Ribeiro has been a true number two center throughout his career and remains a somewhat effective player on the Nashville Predators.
But unless he can turn back the clock and finish with a strong second half, Ribeiro may be in his final NHL season. Age has taken its toll on the long-time standout, and it may be time to retire after 2016-17.
9 Zdeno Chara, 39
This is the end of the line for a man who turns 40 in March, but it was expected. Zdeno Chara stands at 6-9, 250 pounds but has seen his production significantly reduce. The 2009 Norris Trophy winner and 2011 Stanley Cup champion was one of the league's elite defencemen during his prime.
Chara put up at least 40 points every year from 2003-04 to 2011-12, and turned the long-time struggling Boston Bruins into a juggernaut. This man has averaged well over 20 minutes of ice time per game every season since 1999-2000. But it's time to accept reality that Chara may want to think about retiring this year.
In 2013-14, he had 17 goals, 40 points and a plus-25 rating. The next season, Chara had just eight goals and 20 points. In 2015-16, Chara had nine goals and 37 points. This year, he's at three goals and 11 points with a rating of zero. Chara has been slowed down by age and injuries - it's a lot easier for teams to skate past him now. He can play top-four minutes, but he's not the true shutdown blueliner nor powerplay specialist we once knew and loved.
8 Brian Campbell, 37
Though he was never recognized as a true superstar, Brian Campbell was one of the NHL's best all-around blueliners after the lockout. He could hit and stand his ground well. Campbell was and still is a solid puck-moving defenceman and power play specialist. He has 201 career power play points.
Campbell has 500 career points, which isn't bad for a guy who spent so much time with the Chicago Blackhawks as a number three blueliner. Campbell, who turns 38 in May, has proven he can still play at a decently high level. He's up to four goals and 13 points with a plus-six rating, and is playing 18:24 on average per game.
Though his days of scoring 30-40 points are probably over, Campbell can still play against the league's best forwards, and he remains a valuable part of the Blackhawks defensive core. No reason to believe he's going to hang up his skates in the offseason. He can play at a productive level for at least another year.
7 Andrei Markov, 38
The 38-year-old blueliner has spent his whole career with the Montreal Canadiens and has been one of their best blueliners over the past 20 years. Andrei Markov has scored 40-plus points seven times, including a 64-point campaign back in 2008-09. He has 115 career goals and 557 points, but is beginning to see a slight decline.
Markov had 44 points all of last season, but has just 21 points in 2016-17. He does remain valuable in his own end, however. Markov has a plus-six rating on the season and is playing 21:49 per game this season. He has eight points on the powerplay and remains effective at both ends of the ice.
Even though his offence has dried up, Markov remains a key piece of the Canadiens blue line, and he should be able to keep playing after this season.
6 Brian Gionta, 38
The 38-year-old veteran is one of the nicest underdog stories in the history of the NHL. Brian Gionta was a third-round pick in 1998, but wasn't expected to do much with his 5-7, 178-pound stature. But he joined the New Jersey Devils in the 2001-02 season, and has never looked back.
Gionta has scored 20-plus goals in seven different seasons and threatening to do it once again in 2017. After posting just 12 goals and 33 points a season ago, he's now up to 11 goals and 24 points. It's worth noting he's also just 15 goals away from reaching 300 for his career.
Even though he's pushing 40, Gionta maintains a nice burst of speed can can play top-six minutes. He's obviously not the star he once was, but Gionta has kept himself in great shape and could easily play another two years beyond 2017.
5 Roberto Luongo, 37
Roberto Luongo is easily on his way to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He's fifth all-time in wins with 449, but will surely pass Curtis Joseph (454), this season. He should also pass Ed Belfour (484), by the end of next season. 'Bobby Lou' also has 73 career shutouts and an impressive 2.49 goals against average despite playing on miserable Florida Panthers teams.
Luongo posted 30 wins every year from 2005-06 to 2011-12, and has a pair of Olympic gold medals with Canada. That being said, it appears as though Luongo's best days are slowly behind them, but Florida's regression hasn't helped him much, either.
His 2.45 goals against average is on pace to be his worst in four seasons, and his .920 save percentage is fairly lackluster. But the 37-year-old continues to be a somewhat reliable number one goalie. There's no reason to think he can't play another three years (or more), if he maintains his good shape and conditioning.
4 Patrick Marleau, 37
Patrick Marleau may no longer be the guy who continuously threatened to score 40 goals and 70 points in a season, but let's just say opposing defencemen don't enjoy playing against him. The 37-year-old has 17 goals and 26 points this season, after having just 25 tallies all of last season.
The San Jose Sharks icon is fading a little bit offensively, but he does remain a force who can play top-line minutes. Marleau is still a crucial part of the Sharks success, and his contributions could make them a Stanley Cup contender this spring. He's been relatively healthy his whole career, and it's reasonable to believe he can play at least two more seasons after 2016-17.
But it appears Marleau's days of scoring 30 goals are done. Yet he remains a sure bet for 20 goals and 45 points, despite all of the heavy minutes on his body. Here's hoping Captain Patrick can keep it going for a few more years.
3 Marian Hossa, 38
A year ago, Marian Hossa wouldn't be this high on the list. He had 13 goals and 33 points in 64 games last season. It appeared as though the future Hall of Famer was nearing the end of his career. But the 38-year-old Hossa has enjoyed a huge bounce back, with 18 goals and 30 points in just 45 games.
Hossa made his debut during the 1997-98 season and continues to excel at a high level. He remains a top-notch skater who shoots the puck as well as he did 10 years ago. Hossa could very well be on his way to a ninth career 30-goal season, even though he hasn't scored that many in three seasons.
The future Hall of Famer is on pace for 30 goals and 51 points. Given his age, mileage, heavy minutes, long playoff runs and injury history, it's amazing and awesome to see Hossa finding new ways to produce at a high level.
2 Joe Thornton, 37
Joe Thornton is now 37 years of age, and though he's definitely starting to fade, there's no reason to believe he can't play at a quality level for one or two more seasons. He has 31 points so far this season and won't come close to the 82 points he put up last season. But Thornton has been in the NHL since 1997-98, and continues to play at a fairly high level.
The 2010 Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup of Hockey champion won both the Art Ross and Hart Trophy in 2006. He's up to 380 career goals and 1,372 points. Thornton is only lacking a Stanley Cup, but is also on his way to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Thornton remains a key part of the San Jose Sharks core, even though it's not Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns' team. Jumbo Joe has enjoyed a storied career, and though the best years are over, this run isn't over yet.
1 Jaromir Jagr, 44
Like this is a surprise.
What else can we say about the man who turns 45 in February? Jaromir Jagr's NHL career began in 1990-91, and he's still playing. Connor McDavid was born while Jagr was in his seventh NHL season. Think about that for a minute.
Jagr remains a wrecking machine. He had 26 goals and 66 points last season, but he "only", has nine goals and 29 points in 50 games this season. Jagr is defying science by playing at a remarkably high level even though he's closer to 50 than Auston Matthews is to 25.
This is just amazing what we're seeing. Few NHLers can play into their '40s, but Jagr is playing at a high level in his mid-40s. He said he's going to do whatever he can to make sure he's playing until he's 50. If that holds up, that means nobody is overtaking his spot on this list.
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