Chris Chelios is one of the oldest players of all time to play in the NHL and originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
It appears that Zdeno Chara, one of the longest-serving NHL members, officially hung up his skates when he announced his retirement after 24 NHL seasons.
There are also those like Andy Greene, who didn’t sign a new contract at the age of 39, but wants to return for another season.
And then there are some like Duncan Keith and Jason Spezza who formally announced their retirement.
With a new NHL season ahead of us, let’s take a look at some of the oldest players currently in the league and some of the oldest to have ever played.
Who are the oldest active NHL players?
5. Mark Giordano, 38 years old
The Canadian professional hockey player is a defender for the Toronto Maple Leafs and previously played with the Seattle Kraken and Calgary Flames. He began his career in 2004 with the Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Lowell Lock Monsters, and Calgary brought him back for the 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons, where he remained for 13 seasons.
Giordano has scored 151 goals, 393 assists and 544 points in a total of 1,024 games played during his NHL career. He is about to retire as Maple Leaf after this season.
4. Andy Greene, 39 years old
Andy Greene, one of the more under-recognized captains in recent memory, spent 14 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, five of them with the “C” for the Devils. He has had a very under-the-radar career, playing a home defense role with the Devils and most recently with the New York Islanders. He signed a one-year deal last summer to return to Long Island after being traded to the team on the deadline in 2020, and is now an unrestricted free agent.
Greene has just 264 points in his career as he enters his 17th season in the NHL. He finally hit 1,000 games in his career last season, currently out of 1,057 games played. Greene was the first player in the 2021-22 season to reach the milestone, a milestone only 357 other players in NHL history have achieved.
3. Mike Smith, 40 years old
Smith has just dropped his physique for the coming season, but that doesn’t seem to stop him. The veteran goalkeeper has bounced around a bit in what will be 17 years on the show, including this upcoming season. Smith has played with the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames and is currently on the Edmonton Oilers. In his career, he has a record of 299-263-78 with a 2.70 goals-against average (GAA) and a save rate of 0.912.
After playing consecutive one-year contracts with the Oilers, Smith signed a two-year extension last summer to remain in Edmonton. Coming into his best stat season since 2011-12, he will be the backstop for an Oilers team that continues to try to figure out how the peak years of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are not lost.
2. Craig Anderson, 41 years old
Entering his 20th season in the league, Craig Anderson is most famous for his 10 years with the 2010-2020 Ottawa Senators. The 41-year-old goalkeeper has also had stints with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals. He has a career record of 308-264-69 with a 2.85 GAA and a serve percentage of 0.912.
Anderson signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabers for the 2021-22 season. Anderson returns to the ice to battle Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for the starting role in Buffalo, but his injuries have not been easy. In the 31 games Anderson played last season, it became clear that his role on the Sabers is likely to dwindle to a smaller one soon.
1. Joe Thornton, 43 years old
The Beard plans to be back for its 25th season. Jumbo Joe signed a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers last summer, after signing a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs the previous season. He broke through in the league in 1997-98 with the Boston Bruins, but spent most of his career in San Jose with the Sharks. He is now a free agent.
In his career, Thornton has scored 430 goals and 1,109 assists, totaling 1,539 points over 1,714 games played, as well as an Art Ross and Hart Trophy. He is considered one of the top favorites not to have a Stanley Cup to his name.
Who are the oldest NHL players ever?
5. Johnny Bower, 45 years old
Considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Johnny Bower got a late start to his NHL career. He made his debut with the New York Rangers at the age of 29. After seeing only seven action games in the next two seasons, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1958. He spent 12 seasons with the Maples Leafs, winning four Stanley Cups and two Vezina trophies.
“The China Wall”, as it was called, played in just one game in 1970 due to injuries. But he was 45 years old, making him the oldest player in the NHL at the time. However, not many knew his actual age. Bower had previously lied about his date of birth to enlist in the Canadian Army. It wasn’t until after his retirement that Bower revealed his true date of birth and confirmed that he was 45 years old when he was about to make his final start.
4. Jaromir Jagr, 45 years old
Jaromir Jagr and his delicious mullet have torn the NHL apart for years. The timeless Czech prodigy played 24 seasons in the NHL with nine different teams, including 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two-time Stanley Cup champion is the only player to ever play in the Stanley Cup final as a teenager and in a player who is at least 40 years old.
Not only did Jagr spend 24 seasons on the show, he also took a three-year hiatus to play in the KHL before returning in 2014. His last season in the NHL was with the Calgary Flames, when he was 45 years old. But it wasn’t for Jagr. He returned to the Czech Republic, where at the age of 49 he still plays for his home team, HC Kladno of the Czech Extraliga, which he also owns. Jagr holds numerous records, including the most points, goals and assists of any European-born player, the most winning goals in his career and the oldest player to score a hat-trick.
3. Maurice Roberts, 45 years old
NHL fans have probably never heard of Maurice “Moe” Roberts. But he had one of the most interesting hockey careers. Roberts played in just 10 NHL games. When Roberts made his debut for the Boston Bruins in 1925, he was actually the youngest NHL goalkeeper at 19. That mark would not be broken for the next 20 years.
Roberts spent most of his career playing minor league hockey after only two starts with the Bruins. He wouldn’t make another NHL start until 1931, a single start with the New York Americans, then appeared in six games in 1933-34 for the Americans. Roberts took a four-year hockey break during World War II to enlist in the United States Navy. After returning to the game, Roberts made one more NHL appearance, playing in relief in one stint for the Chicago Blackhawks at age 45.
2. Chris Chelios
Chris Chelios, one of the greatest defenders of all time, finished his NHL career with 26 seasons under his belt. He made his 1983 debut with the Montreal Canadians at age 22 and spent seven seasons with the Habs. He then spent nine seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks before spending seven seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. His final season came at age 49 with the Atlanta Thrashers, though he only appeared seven times in the NHL that season, spending most of that year in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves.
Chelios finished his career with three Stanley Cups and three Norris trophies. He is the all-time leader among defenders in regular-season games, and is the NHL’s all-time leader in playoff games played with 266.
1. Gordie Howe, 52 years old
Could it be someone other than Mr. Hockey himself? Howe debuted in the league in 1946 at the age of 18. He played with the Detroit Red WIngs for 25 years before announcing his retirement at age 42. It was short-lived, however, and three years later he returned to hockey to play with his sons on the Houston Eros and New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. When the WHA and NHL merged in 1979, Howe played his final season with the Hartford Whalers at age 52.
At the time of his actual retirement, Howe’s 801 goals, 1049 assists, and 1,850 points were all NHL career records, which were later broken by Wyane Gretzky. His total regular season appearances remained strong until last season, when Patrick Marlaeu passed Howe’s 1,767. It’s very unlikely we’ll see anyone play in the NHL at the age Howe did to end his storied career.