10 Aging NHL Players and Whether They'll Be Back in 2012-13
The NHL free-agency period is set to start tomorrow. In addition to finding out which stars will find a new home and where, we will be finding out which aging stars will give it one last run, and which will call it a career.
These types of predictions are always the hardest. On one hand, it's great to see a player quit while he's ahead and still playing well, but at the same time that's the hardest time to do it.
It hard to watch a player become just a shadow he once was in his last years, but it's also admirable that he gave it all he had for as long as he could.
If there's anything we learned from Nicklas Lidstrom's decision to retire, it's that even the best aging stars can catch us by surprise.
The following takes a look at 10 aging players and what their decision for the following season will be.
Dwayne Roloson is the oldest player in the NHL at 42 years old; and it shows.
Two seasons ago he had an incredible playoff run for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but slipped back to reality last season with a league-worst .886 save percentage.
Prediction: Dwayne is an unrestricted free agent as of tomorrow. With Anders Lindback now in the Lightning system, they will not be re-signing him, and there will be no other takers. If he is involved with the NHL at any capacity next season, it will be as a goalie coach.
There have already been reports form the Toronto Sun indicating Teemu Selanne will be back for the 2012-13 season, but it has yet to be official. According to NHL.com, Selanne and the Ducks have begun talking regarding the matter.
Despite being 41 years old, Selanne was the leading scorer on the Ducks last year, leaving no reason to support a retirement decision.
Prediction: Selanne will return for at least one more season. There will be rumors that he might finish his career where it started in Winnipeg, but he will remain a Duck for the rest of his career. Last year he had 66 points to lead the team. I predict he will easily surpass that amount this season.
If this was one year ago, when Brodeur was coming off a fairly poor season, I would not expect him back in the NHL.
But after his incredible performance last season and the heroic playoff run, he once again has the taste of success.
It was recently reported by NHL.com that Brodeur is set to test free agency tomorrow.
Prediction: While there will be league-wide interest in the coveted free agent, Brodeur will sign a one-year contract with the Devils and remain in New Jersey for the remainder of his career.
After his three-year hiatus, Jaromir Jagr returned to the NHL for the Philadelphia Flyers last season.
While he wasn't the offensive monster we're used to seeing, the season was a success as he helped mentor a young Flyers squad.
Prediction: Jagr will be returning to the NHL, but not for the Flyers. He will sign a one-year deal in Edmonton. With yet another first overall draft pick and defender Justin Schultz in the lineup, Jagr will end his career with a deep playoff run in Edmonton.
Ray Whitney plays every season, every game and every shift like a 30-year-old in his prime. But he's 40 years old, and eventually he's going to surprise us all and retire.
But it won't be this year.
Prediction: Ray Whitney will play at least one more year in the NHL. I'd predict where, but just about every team in the league will be throwing offers his way. As much as I'd like to see him remain a Coyote, the ownership situation could send him elsewhere.
Two seasons ago, Daniel Alfredsson looked like a beaten and bruised player hanging on to his career by a thread.
Last season, he found his health and scoring touch and led the team to a surprise playoff appearance.
Prediction: With a young and exciting Senator team, it makes perfect sense for Alfredsson to return for one more season. That said, I have this feeling in my gut that he will follow in fellow Swede Nicklas Lidstrom's footsteps and end his career on a high note.
Tomas Holmstrom has spent the past 15 seasons standing in front of the opposing goaltender. He's done it well, but at 39 years old, he is starting to look his age.
Prediction: The Red Wings, for the first time in years, have money available to be big players in free agency. Likewise, for the first time in a very long time, they will be starting the next season with a very different look; A look that doesn't involve Tomas Holmstrom. No other teams will be interested, and Holmstrom will call it a career.
Nikolai Khabibulin was an elite goaltender once upon a time. Now 39 years old, however, he is more known for injuries and DUIs than being a reliable goalie.
Khabibulin is at a point in his career that he should retire for himself and the Edmonton Oilers. That said, he is under contract for the upcoming season. The Edmonton Oilers are now in a position where they could be a serious cup contender, and Khabibulin will stay for that very reason.
Prediction: Khabibulin will play out the remainder of his contract, but he will not be a starting goaltender. He will play somewhere in the ballpark of 25 games while backing up Devan Dubnyk, and he will post mediocre numbers at best.
Chris Pronger has been a long-standing elite defenseman in the NHL.
He battled through numerous injuries, but the serious concussion sustained after 13 games played last season could be the last blow.
But this is hockey, you can never count someone out until it's official.
Prediction: Chris Pronger will not retire this summer. He's only 37 years old, and there's still hope. I could see him taking the 2012-13 season off entirely to recover. But mark my words, he has not played his last NHL game.
This one really isn't a retirement decision but rather a "one-year hiatus" decision.
Many people viewed his hiatus as set in stone when Thomas announced his plans on Facebook (h/t thestar.com). But to tell the truth, would there really be much interest in a 39-year-old rusty goalie with a history of putting himself before the team?
I don't think there would be much, and for that reason I don't think he will fully take a year off.
Prediction: Within Thomas' plans for the next year, Bruce Garrioch of the Toronto Sun notes he has stated that he will be taking the year off to live in his new home in Colorado with his family. I predict that he does live with his family in Colorado, but plays for the Avalanche backing up Semyon Varlamov as well. The Avalanche do still have J.S. Giguere under contract, but with his experience he will not be a difficult player to move.