Hoffman on NHL: Casualties of a lockout

With talks between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association at a standstill and a lockout in progress, it is safe to say that some NHLers might see their career come to an end.

Obviously, we are not talking about the high-flying young superstars that have taken over the league but rather players who have already come full circle, are up there in age and on the precipice of retirement. With the lockout having just started, these players’ careers could already be in the stages of ending.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at players we might have seen the last of in the NHL:

Dwayne Roloson, G, Tampa Bay Lightning

When a player, especially a goaltender, is close to or over the age of 40, it means that their career is already coming to an end, unless that goaltender is the legendary Johnny Bower or Dominik Hasek.

The end could be nigh for 42-year-old (turns 43 in October) netminder Dwayne Roloson. After having a tremendous season with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010-11 in leading them to the Eastern Conference final, Roloson struggled mightily last season in going 13-16-3 with a 3.66 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage.

The signing of goaltender Anders Lindback also hurts Roloson’s chances of playing between the pipes again for the Lightning. It also hurts that no NHL team is likely to take a chance on an over 40-year-old goaltender in what is now a young man’s game.

Tomas Holmstrom, F, Detroit Red Wings

There is no doubt that the Detroit Red Wings have had a ton of success with veterans in the lineup.

With that said, if the puck does not drop this season, one of the Red Wings’ esteemed veterans might not be back when it does drop. Of course, we are talking about 39-year-old forward Tomas Holmstrom.

With Nicklas Lidstrom now retired, the Red Wings are looking to get younger and faster and go in a new direction. Holmstrom is still unsigned and if this season ends up being cancelled (worst case scenario, of course), he will be close to the age of 40.

Based on Holmstrom’s good character, it is unlikely that he would sign with another club and instead, would retire as a Red Wing, a team he spent his entire career with.

Jaromir Jagr, F, Dallas Stars

At the age of 40 and with 18 NHL seasons already under his belt, it is safe to say that newly minted Dallas Stars forward Jaromir Jagr does not exactly have much left to play for.

Jagr has won two Stanley Cups, an Olympic gold medal (1998), scored over 660 goals (665) and 1,600 points (1,653) and has captained two NHL teams (Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers). Last season with the Philadelphia Flyers, Jagr had 54 points (19 goals and 35 assists) in 73 games and added eight more points (1 goal and 7 assists) in the post-season.

With that said, Jagr only signed a one-year deal with the Stars and should the NHL wipeout the 2012-13 season, the contract will no longer exist. There is no doubt that Jagr loves playing hockey and loves playing it at the highest level but a potential cancelled season might just have him thinking retirement.

Chris Pronger, D, Philadelphia Flyers

Whether or not there is hockey this season, there is a chance that we might have seen the last of Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger.

According to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pronger has not made any progress with his post concussion symptoms and will not resume skating with the club. With that news, it is safe to say that Pronger could end up retiring from the game of hockey all together.

Pronger has been a terrific NHL defenceman for 18 seasons. He has close to 700 career points, has played in well over 1,000 games (1,167), has won a Stanley Cup (Anaheim Ducks, 2007), won two gold medals with Team Canada (2002, 2010) and done much more.

The time might be right and for Pronger to step away from the game.

Nikolai Khabibulin, G, Edmonton Oilers

With the Edmonton Oilers having taken their third straight No.1 pick, it is safe to say that the organization is all about youth.

Should there not be NHL hockey in 2012-13, this could mean the end for Edmonton’s 39-year-old goaltender Khabibulin. The “Bulin Wall,” who will be 40 in January, has spent the last three seasons with the Oilers and has done a half-way decent job for the young Oilers hockey club.

Having already won a Stanley Cup and had a lot of success in the league, retirement might be the next most logical step for Khabibulin should the NHL season be wiped out.

Daniel Alfredsson, F, Ottawa Senators

Prior to this season’s lockout, fans in Ottawa were overjoyed with the fact that Ottawa Senators team captain Daniel Alfredssson would return to finish the remaining season on his contract.

Unfortunately for the captain and his loyal supporters, they may not see him again if the lockout wipes out the entire season. It took a lot of thinking for Alfredsson to decide to return but should there be no season, the last season of his contract would expire, making it easier for Alfredsson to retire.

Hopefully for the Senators and their fans, they will get to see their hero play one more time.

Teemu Selanne, F, Anaheim Ducks

At 42 years of age, Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne has done it all in the game of hockey.

Selanne has won a Stanley Cup, played in all-star games, scored over 600 goals and 1,000 points and been a leader on and off the ice. Unfortunately for the Ducks and their fans, Selanne might decide to hang them up should the lockout end up wiping out the entire NHL season.

With that said, stranger things have happened. Selanne is in great shape and showed last season that he can still produce at a consistent level.

Let’s hope that if a lockout does cancel the season, Selanne will decide to return in 2013-14 to dazzle and excite fans one last time.

Milan Hejduk, F, Colorado Avalanche

As mentioned earlier, the NHL is now filled with young stars that have taken the game over.

This appears to the case in Colorado. Two weeks ago, second-year player Gabriel Landeskog was named the team’s captain, showing the Avalanche and their fans that the team is ready go in a new direction.

Unfortunately, this means that a cancelled season might force one of the Avalanche’s best players of all time into retirement. Hejduk has spent his entire NHL career with the Avalanche and has posted 794 points (371 goals and 423 assists) over 13 seasons.

With Hejduk having re-signed with the team for one year, a cancelled season would wipe out his contract, not to mention the fact that a year of inactivity would more than likely slow him down. Hejduk would more than likely just retire as a member of the Avalanche.

Tim Thomas, G, Boston Bruins

In the NHL, there have been a lot of ageless wonders at all positions, especially in net.

Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas won a Stanley Cup two seasons ago at the age of 36. Since then, however, things have changed for Thomas.

After the Bruins were knocked out of the post-season, Tim Thomas announced that he would not play in the 2012-13 season, while also doing some questionable things off the ice. These two things would likely make Thomas less attractive to NHL clubs looking for a netminder in 2013-14 should this season be cancelled.

In the span of two seasons, Thomas will have gone from Stanley Cup champion, Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Vezina Trophy winner to being an unwanted man in the NHL. It is safe to say that should this season be wiped out, Thomas could be forced to retire.

Ray Whitney, F, Dallas Stars

Even though Ray Whitney signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars during the off-season, that does not mean that he will stick it out.

At 40 years of age, Whitney has had a terrific and consistent NHL career. Since the lockout in 2004-05, Whitney has averaged 66.9 points per season, including the 77 (24 goals and 53 assists) he put up last season with the Phoenix Coyotes.

With that said, a potential lockout of the whole 2012-13 season might make Whitney re-think things. Should the NHL cancel this season, Whitney will be 41 years old when the puck drops in the 2013-14 season.

While Whitney may believe in the miracles of modern medicine and modern workout routines, it does mean that his age will not catch up with him and make him think about possibly retiring.