NHL Power Rankings: Checking in with the over-35 crowd on each team

In this edition of his Power Rankings, Ryan Dixon goes over some NHLers who are aging like fine wine this season! Do you have any other player in mind?

Start a conversation about age and sports among any fans with a decent amount of life experience and someone will almost certainly reference a very funny and poignant post on the topic.


Yes, aging curves work a little different at the highest level of professional sport relative to everyday life. And, of course, the NHL has become more of a young man’s league with each passing year. If Nikita Kucherov can keep his place atop the scoring race and claim his second Art Ross Trophy, he’ll become the first 30-year-old scoring champ since a 37-year-old Martin St. Louis posted 60 points in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign to become the oldest Art Ross winner ever. 

St. Louis, of course, was your classic late-bloomer, registering 95 NHL points before his 27th birthday and 938 after. 

Most Hall of Famers have already won 90 percent of their hardware by 27.

As much as the crazy skill of young players has allowed them to push into the league and make an impact earlier and earlier, maniacal commitment to fitness has also allowed truly devoted stars to not only hang on but thrive into their 30s and beyond.

In the past 15 years, we’ve seen a 40-year-old Teemu Selanne record an 80-point season; a 40-year-old Nick Lidstrom win the Norris (and finish fifth in voting at age 41); a 44-year-old Zdeno Chara play more than 18 minutes per night for the Islanders and, of course, Jaromir Jagr record 288 points in 421 NHL games past his 40th birthday. 

(This is probably as good a time as any to give a shout to Hockey Reference’s ‘Stathead’ feature, by the way).

Halfway between 30 and 40 you’ll find 35, which is the cut off for players we’re looking at today as we devote this edition of the Sportsnet Power Rankings to an old guy check. So without further delay — old people are impatient, you know — here’s a glimpse at what the over-35 crowd is doing on each NHL squad (with a couple exceptions where nobody had a D.O.B that fit the criteria). 

1. Los Angeles Kings (15-4-3) Anze Kopitar became the Kings’ all-time games played (1,314) and assists (759) leader this season. The 36-year-old is still the club’s No. 1 centre and remains an integral part of their success.

As for Cam Talbot, he’s making the team’s bet on him look like a genius move. The 36-year-old is turning in a .930 save percentage for the bargain cap hit of $1 million.

2. New York Rangers (18-5-1) Let’s be real; we all thought Jonathan Quick was washed when the Kings unceremoniously dumped him at last year’s trade deadline. But what has this guy done besides battle all these years? The 2012 Conn Smythe winner — who turns 38 in January — has a .918 save percentage in eight starts with the Rangers this season.

Blake Wheeler, meanwhile, seemed like he might still thrive in a lesser role when he signed with the Rangers in the summer, but the 37-year-old has just four assists this season and has played fewer than 12 minutes 11 times in 24 outings. 

3. Boston Bruins (17-4-3) What sounds more odd, that Brad Marchand is the captain of the Bruins or that he’s actually already 35 years old? His stature, baby face and mischievous nature have always imbued Marchand with a youthful aura, but he’s firmly on the back nine and still killing it. In his first season without Patrice Bergeron, the winger is tracking a 35-goal showing for the first time since 2018-19. 

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4. Colorado Avalanche (16-7-2) The Avs obviously like having 37-year-old Jack Johnson around because they moved to re-acquire him ahead of the trade deadline last year and inked him as a free agent both this past July and before the 2021-22 season, when he wound up winning a Cup with Colorado. Picked two spots behind his old buddy Sidney Crosby at No. 3 overall in 2005, Johnson is still playing close to 15 minutes per night on the Avs’ third pair. 

5. Vegas Golden Knights (17-5-5) 36-year-old Alec Martinez is on injured reserve right now with a lower-body ailment. Yes, the team will likely be happy to see his $5.25-million cap hit come off the books this summer, but Martinez still averaged the third-most ice time (19:29) of any Vegas player during last spring’s run to the Cup. And, of course, his playoff resume is forever golden thanks to scoring the overtime winner in Game 7 of the 2014 Western Conference final versus Chicago and the Cup-winner a few weeks later in extra-time of Game 5 against the Rangers. 

6. Detroit Red Wings (14-7-3) David Perron, 35, is scoring at nearly a 25-goal pace for the Wings and 35-year-old James Reimer sports a .917 save percentage in a half-dozen outings. Of course, the real story is the guy who just turned 35 on Nov. 19 and inked with the Wings nine days later. Patrick Kane’s Wings debut Thursday night will be watched closely around the NHL.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs (12-6-4) Currently hurt, Mark Giordano is the only 40-year-old in the NHL. Gio still knows his way around the rink, but the Leafs are working hard to find support for him and the rest of an undermanned D corps. 

8. Winnipeg Jets (14-8-2) The Jets’ most senior player is Brenden Dillion, who just turned 33 on Nov. 13. 30-year-old Mark Scheifele is on pace for a career-high 92 points. 

9. Florida Panthers (15-8-2) Sergei Bobrovsky turned 35 basically as training camp opened and you could very much argue his play this season has been as good or better than at any other time — excluding last year’s playoffs, of course — during his five-season tenure in South Florida. 

10. Dallas Stars (14-7-3) Twenty-two years after he was passed over in his first year of NHL Draft eligibility, we’re still not giving Joe Pavelski nearly the credit he deserves. The second-oldest player in the league at 39 years, 149 days, Pavelski is on a point-per-game clip this year and what he’s done in Dallas during the final chapter of his career — 233 points in 244 contests since the start of 2020-21 — is truly remarkable. 

Also, 38-year-old Ryan Suter — a Wisconsin boy, like Pavelski — is the active games played leader at 1,386.

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11. Vancouver Canucks (16-9-1) Ian Cole turns 35 in February and was playing 20 minutes per night for Vancouver before the Nikita Zadorov deal. Cole will likely settle into a more manageable role as the Canucks continue to try and upgrade the blueline. 

12. Arizona Coyotes (13-9-2) Jason Zucker was one of a couple vets Arizona added in the off-season to help a young core. The 31-year-old missed some time with a lower-body injury this year, but is still scoring at close to a 25-goal pace. 

13. Washington Capitals (12-8-2) It’s still hard to know what to make of 38-year-old Alex Ovechkin having just five goals in 22 games this year. Is there a hot streak coming soon that will re-ignite the talk of Ovi chasing down Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal-scoring mark?

14. Tampa Bay Lightning (12-10-5) Steven Stamkos turns 34 in February and, should he make it to the UFA open market in July, there will be plenty of teams interesting in having him on board for his NHL golden years.

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15. Carolina Hurricanes (14-10-1) When Jordan Staal began playing in the NHL at 18 years, 25 days in 2007, he was the fifth-youngest player to debut since 1967-68 and he’s the youngest player to score an NHL hat trick. He turned 35 in September and is in the first year of a new four-year pact. 

As for 38-year-old Brent Burns, he’s still playing more than 20 minutes per night on the blueline.

16. New Jersey Devils (12-10-1) Brendan Smith just served a two-game suspension for slashing Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny. The big D-man turns 35 in February and logs nearly 15 minutes a night for the Devils when he’s not banished by the league. 

17. Philadelphia Flyers (13-10-2) After missing his entire age-33 campaign last year with a herniated disc, Cam Atkinson has a very respectable eight goals this year (though he hasn’t found the net in 10 outings).

18. New York Islanders (10-7-7) In November, Cal Clutterbuck turned 36 and played his 1,000th NHL game. 35-year-old Semyon Varlamov, meanwhile, has a .926 save percentage this season. 

19. Edmonton Oilers (10-12-1) Derek Ryan, who turns 37 at the end of the month, played 27 NHL games before his 30th birthday in 2016. Since then, the American has suited up for 496. Keep grinding, friends. 

20. Nashville Predators (13-12-0) 34-year-old Ryan McDonagh has basically been playing 20 minutes a night since he became an NHL regular with the Rangers in 2011-12. This year is no exception. 

21. St. Louis Blues (13-11-1) Every defenceman who’s played 20 games for St. Louis this year is over 30, so it might be time for a refresh on the blue.

22. Pittsburgh Penguins (11-11-3) Sidney Crosby has a real chance to record his second career 50-goal season at age 36 this year. This team creaks when it skates, though. Jake Guentzel, 29, is the Penguins’ top scorer with 29 points. The next seven guys on the list are over 30. 

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23. Minnesota Wild (9-10-4) Maintaining a high level of play into your mid-30s is one thing, but Mats Zuccarello just continues to break new ground as he gets older. His most productive two seasons in the NHL came in each of the past two years and this time out, the 36-year-old is tracking a 96-point season that would dwarf his previous high of 79. 

As for Marc-Andre Fleury, the baby-faced stopper is now the oldest tender in the league at 39. 

24. Ottawa Senators (10-10-0) Claude Giroux inked in Ottawa in the summer of 2022 to close out his career at home, ideally playing for a competitive team. The 35-year-old has certainly held up his end of the bargain, netting 98 points in 102 outings with Ottawa. 

25. Montreal Canadiens (11-11-3) The Habs are in an interesting spot with 33-year-old goalie Jake Allen. He likes being there and the club loves having his stabilizing presence as it ambles through a rebuild. On the other hand, several teams with lofty hopes and subpar goaltending could use a 1B like Allen. 

26. Calgary Flames (10-12-3) Mikael Backlund turns 35 in March and the new Flames captain has a realistic shot at passing Jarome Iginla as Calgary’s all-time games played leader. 

27. Seattle Kraken (8-12-6) France’s finest, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is another example of a guy who barely played NHL games before his 30th birthday (64), but has had a steady career since then and is still going strong at age 38.

28. Buffalo Sabres (10-14-2) 35-year-old Sabres captain Kyle Okposo played his 1,000th NHL game this year and is 19 away from his 500th contest with Buffalo. 

29. Columbus Blue Jackets (8-14-5) At 31, hard-nosed Erik Gudbranson is Columbus’ senior citizen. He never lived up to his third-overall billing from 2010, but still hasn’t been fun to play against all these years. 

30. San Jose Sharks (7-17-2) It’s really too bad the Sharks veterans like Marc-Edouard Vlasic (36) and the injured Logan Couture (34) are on such monster contracts, because they could — to varying degrees — thrive in lesser roles on competitive teams. 

31. Chicago Blackhawks (7-16-1) Nick Foligno, 36, is scoring at a 40-point pace in Chicago while providing steady, veteran leadership.

32. Anaheim Ducks (7-17-2) Alex Killorn’s Ducks tenure didn’t get off to a great start as he fractured a finger in pre-season. The 34-year-old has played 15 games in Anaheim and the Ducks have won just four of them.

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