Having the talent to play in the NHL is nothing short of an accomplishment. It is the best pro hockey league in the world — it’s not up for discussion. As new players enter the league, they are determined to live out their childhood dream of lifting the Stanley Cup. Fortunately for some, they have been blessed by getting drafted to a Cup-contending team, while others have had luckless careers and were selected by dead-end franchises. It's a tough pill to swallow seeing a basement club being the one to snatch a great talent, however when you finish as low as they do, you need a silver lining to brighten the future.
While many are still chasing the dream, there are a select few who simply can’t give it up — they’re married to the game. Some may say that age is just a number, but in the hockey universe it isn't; there's a point in every player's career when they have to realize that their best days are behind them and consider hanging up the skates if they can't contribute at a respectable rate. It's a young man's league now, and veterans are being pushed to the brink as of late. And it's sad to see some long-time faces go, but that's sports. Now in regards to that, this isn’t necessarily a list of players who are bad hockey players or a list telling players to retire, it’s simply a list of players who simply are past their prime; nonetheless, this is the top 15 most-washed-up players currently playing in the NHL.
15 Jarome Iginla
If there's one player in the league who cannot seem to catch a break, it has to be Jarome Iginla. After bouncing between the Pittsburgh Penguins, then the Boston Bruins, then to the worst hockey team in the past 10 years (Colorado Avalanche), and finally landing with an underachieving Los Angeles Kings team, it looks like Iggy's time is running out. He obviously carried high expectations for when he was dealt to the Kings, but they failed to make the playoffs after a busy trade deadline. And while he has proven he can still produce at the NHL level, his numbers are beginning to decline -- only tallying 27 points in 80 games this season in comparison to his career high of 98 points in 82 games back in the 2008-09 season. While he's still a useful piece on any team, it is quite obvious that Iggy is not the player that he used to be.
14 Chris Kunitz
Chris Kunitz has enjoyed a successful career alongside NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby. He managed to collect three Stanley Cups (two of them being with the Pens and the remaining one with the Anaheim Ducks) and even an Olympic Gold Medal. While he used to consistently total 60 points a season, his production level has basically been sliced in half, managing just 29 points in 71 games this season. Now, these certainly aren't the numbers that a first-line forward should be producing, which is why he has often found himself further down on the depth chart as of late. In addition to that and his vulnerability to injury, some may speculate that the gritty left winger's best days are behind him. Not to mention with young talent such as Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel replacing him on Sid's line, it appears as though Kunitz will not be exceeding the 60-point plateau in the future.
13 Ales Hemsky
Ales Hemsky has been extremely inconsistent throughout his career -- in terms of health and point production. He appeared to fool many in his first two seasons in Dallas by playing 76 and then 75 games but then following up with just a minuscule 15 games this past season due to injury. In addition to that, he hasn't been able to find a rhythm, as he has not surpassed 40 points since the 2010-2011 season. For a forward earning $4 million a year, these are not top-six forward numbers, to say the least. While he can be somewhat productive when he does manage to play, it looks as if the Ales Hemsky who went on the Cup run with the Edmonton Oilers back in 2005-2006 is no more. Due to a combination of injuries and his age of 33, Hemsky's best years are evidently behind him.
12 Mike Ribeiro
Mike Ribeiro is what many people refer to as a "cancer" in the locker room. His negative attitude is contagious and it seemed as though the Nashville Predators had finally gotten fed up this year and banished him to the minors to ensure that the young talent on the roster wouldn't be affected by his infectious personality. It's unfortunate to see a talented player throw away a career the way he has. It's weird to imagine that he was once a frequent highlight-reel contributor, being a gifted player with soft mitts and a knack for the shootout. But the 37-year old is an embarrassment to not only his team but the entire league as well. It's clear that Ribeiro cannot be considered an NHL player after this season, and retirement seems inevitable for the aging veteran, seeing as no team seems willing to take the gamble.
11 Patrick Marleau
As he was accused of not trying by ex-teammate Jeremy Roenick, Patrick Marleau is most definitely on the decline in comparison to his previous years. Although he's still a top-line player on the San Jose Sharks and has proven that he's still capable of producing at the NHL level, his age is beginning to catch up with him. He's certainly not a full-blown wash-up, but past his prime nonetheless. Unfortunately for the Sharks, they were handed an early exit by the youthful Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, falling steeply short of expectations after the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final last season. And while Marleau has enjoyed a lengthy career, if the Sharks choose not to resign the veteran his future remains in question -- with many making the assumption that he will most likely (and willingly) look at retirement in the next few years if what Roenick says is true.
10 Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara has been an elite defenseman for the better part of his career, ultimately leading the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011. He has relied heavily on his massive frame of 6'9" to poke check, hit, and box out the opposing teams. But while watching the giant play in recent times, he certainly looks much slower than in his previous seasons. Although many teams would still love to have him, he's also 40 years old, making it obvious that his best days are well behind him. And with the Bruins being bounced from the first round of the playoffs by the Ottawa Senators, it's not a secret that the B's are in desperate need of some new defensemen to deepen their backend. It seems as though it was just yesterday that Chara was ragdolling Bryan McCabe around the ice -- oh, where has the time gone.
9 Matt Stajan
Can you believe the Calgary Flames are paying Matt Stajan $3.375 million a season? Well, they are, and it is significantly burning them. During his tenure with the Flames, Stajan has yet to overcome the 40-point plateau, and it certainly looks as though his point totals will only diminish even more. The Flames were swept by their divisional rival, the Anaheim Ducks, which included a game where they blew a 4-1 lead ... at home, which is very unorthodox for the team. Calgary will have to shed their aging veterans like Stajan if they plan on ever making a respectable playoff run in the future because it's evident that this roster is incapable of doing much damage in the post season. A large pat on the back of Stajan for being able to stay in the NHL since '04, but I think the next step in his career is fairly obvious... retirement.
8 Antoine Vermette
Antoine Vermette is still a useful centreman on any NHL team, but his production isn't where it used to be. His point totals have been extremely concerning as he hasn't gone over 40 points since 2013-2014, which means he cannot be considered a top six forward. His contract is very beneficial and affordable, as he makes an annual sum of $1.75 million. While he's great on the draws and the penalty kill, his knack for totaling points has been slipping, and his last few seasons have shown it. A skilled player nonetheless, it looks as though the 34-year old won't be stepping into a bigger role in the future. After winning a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015, he's already won the holy trophy. This leads me to be interested in seeing where the grizzled veteran ends up after his contract with the Ducks is up this year.
7 Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo deserves a Stanley Cup -- or some sort of award for his witty humour that he often showcases on Twitter. While he has proven he's still an NHL goalie, he often falls victim to a variety of injuries -- making him unable to sustain his usual workload. After a devastating loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, it looks as though that could be the closest that the comical goaltender will ever come to winning a Stanley Cup seeing as the Florida Panthers have a variety of management issues after the questionable firing of the highly-praised Gerard Gallant. As for now, Bobby Lou is beginning to show that his weathered age (of 38) is limiting his ability to compete at his absolute best -- resulting in an increase of starts for backup James Reimer. One can at least hope he will keep his Twitter game up to par.
6 Brian Gionta
Brian Gionta has been in the league for a while -- he's a bona fide NHL veteran. After enjoying successful seasons in New Jersey, it seems as though ever since he left the Devils, that he lost his touch and has been on the decline ever since. After winning a Stanley Cup in Jersey, there isn't much left in the NHL for Gionta. He's a great glue guy in the dressing room and can teach the rookies quite a bit about being a professional. However, due to his lack of size and youth, Gionta will most likely be on the way out to make way for younger players. It only makes sense as the Buffalo Sabres are in the midst of a rebuild. If he wishes to continue his tenure in Buffalo, he'll definitely have to be on the good side of unofficial GM Jack Eichel as he just got both Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma axed.
5 Marian Gaborik
Marian Garborik is the definition of a Band-Aid. What use is a player -- whom is paid $6.0 million a season -- if he can't play a full season? Not to mention that his team's locker room chemistry is affected by such an absence. Even when he has been in the lineup recently, he has failed to achieve 25 points. He's been a major reason as to why the Los Angeles Kings have had offensive woes and ultimately, not in playoffs this season. It's hard to believe he used to be a consistent 30-plus-goal scorer back in the day after watching him as of late. With the Kings failing to reach the postseason, change seems inevitable and a buyout of the underachieving forward could indeed happen to the 35-year old. It's evident that ever since the Kings won their last Stanley Cup, that Gaborik's value has diminished.
4 Shane Doan
Shane Doan is the Wile E. Coyote of NHL veterans -- which is very fitting of course, seeing as he plays for the Arizona Coyotes. Nonetheless, Doan has had to put up with an underachieving Coyotes roster for the past few seasons, and as a result, his production has taken a massive hit. With Doan not getting any younger, and the Coyotes marginally improving, a Stanley Cup doesn't seem to be realistic at the wise age of 40 -- unless a change of scenery occurs. While Doan is keen on sticking around with the Coyotes unless a perfect trade can land him in an ideal environment, he will most likely retire as a 'Yote. After considering facts such as these, it is evident that Doan has been past his glory days for quite some time and will highly consider hanging up the skates in the not-to-distant future.
3 Scott Hartnell
It may come as a surprise to some, but Scott Hartnell is 35 years old, and time has caught up with the agitator. The pesky forward has always had a knack for the net and is gifted at takin' out the trash by scoring some greasy-garbage goals. But when you play that gritty for that many years, it begins to take a toll on your body -- making many wonder if he'll be able to keep it up much longer. He's set to be protected by the Columbus Blue Jackets due to his no-trade clause, which is unfortunate for the young club. It's obvious that he's not as effective as he was when he played in Philadelphia with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr, but he certainly can still skate with the best.
2 Joe Thornton
After many questioned Joe Thornton's age the past few seasons, Jumbo shocked the hockey world (kind of) and tallied a whopping 82 points last season -- with majority of the points being apples -- his specialty. Being one of the biggest veterans in the league, he helped lead the Sharks to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. However, the 40-year old would be the first to tell you the truth of the matter: that Jumbo is past his prime.While he may not be a full-blown wash-up, he certainly isn't in his prime anymore and his window to win a Cup is closing. Indeed, he's still capable of keeping up with the best, and he's the dishin' magician, but a repeat of any of his two 100-plus-point seasons are unrepeatable.
1 Jaromir Jagr
Yes, Jaromir Jagr is still playing hockey for those of you who aren't up to date. The 45-year old's producing, but is he producing at the rate he was when he was in his prime, when he won Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins? Absolutely not. Nonetheless, Jags is an NHL legend and has enjoyed five 100-plus-point seasons, but there is utterly no way that he will ever finish above any of today's greats in scoring -- it's unrealistic. He has said that he wants to play until he's 50, leaving many to speculate if he's actually going to -- which would realistically come as no surprise seeing as he's made it this far already. Florida may not be the best fit for him, but if he can help the young club crawl into the postseason, anything can happen.
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