NHL Lockout: 10 Players with the Most to Lose with a Lost Season

Ryan DavenportContributor IOctober 9, 2012

NHL Lockout: 10 Players with the Most to Lose with a Lost Season

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    So far, the NHL lockout has had a negative impact on all parties involved, from the league's owners, players and management personnel to the millions of fans around the globe. 

    Though the vast majority of the league's brightest stars will continue to be top-flight players whenever the NHL resumes play, for a variety of reasons, there will be a handful of marquee talents who will be hurt more than others. 

    Age is the most common factor, as stars in the twilight of their careers will obviously be older when the league opens its doors once again. 

    However, other causes, such as lack of meaningful games, the departure of key teammates and recurring injuries will undoubtedly take their tolls on many of the game's biggest names. 

    Here's a look at some of the star players who will be hurt most by the NHL lockout. 

Teemu Selanne

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    In 2011-12, Teemu Selanne turned in one of the most impressive seasons ever for a player over the age of 40, as the Finnish Flash put up 26 goals and 40 assists for Anaheim. 

    Unfortunately, at 42, the Ducks' ageless wonder won't benefit from a prolonged lockout, as he'll not only be inevitably older, but he'll also be after going without competitive hockey for an extended period of time. 

    It is worth mentioning that Selanne enjoyed a bounce-back campaign following the last lockout, as he tallied 90 points in 2005-06, but considering his age and the fact that, as of now, he isn't slated to play any meaningful hockey until the NHL resumes play, it's safe to say he won't be approaching those numbers again. 

    If the 2012-13 season is cancelled entirely, Selanne may have already played his last NHL game, which would be a shame for the greatest Finnish hockey player of all time. 

Daniel Alfredsson

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    On Wednesday, CTV reported that Senators star forward Daniel Alfredsson has acknowledged that "another cancelled NHL season could spell the end of his hockey career." 

    It's not exactly a surprising revelation, considering that Alfredsson, the Sens' longtime captain and face of the franchise, is set to turn 40 in September and seriously considered retirement after Ottawa's first-round loss to the New York Rangers in April. 

    If the lockout ends in time for a shortened 2012-13 season to be salvaged, the six-time All-Star will probably return, especially because he's coming off a very solid 2011-12 campaign, as Alfredsson potted 59 points and was named captain at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa. 

    Unfortunately, if Alfredsson has played his final NHL game, the real losers will be the fans, because the four-time Swedish Olympian has been one of the game's most consistent scorers for nearly two decades. 

Scott Gomez

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    Scott Gomez's decline has been astonishing to watch, as he possesses top-flight skating and puck-handling abilities, and at one point, was among the most exciting players in the game.

    As a member of the Devils, Gomez made a name for himself as one of the best offensive players on two Stanley Cup Champion teams and won the 2000 Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. Upon leaving New Jersey to sign a seven-year deal worth $51.5 million with the Rangers, his numbers began to plummet.

    Now, if the season is cancelled, Gomez will be entering the final year of his deal. In the summer of 2014, the former Olympian will be in search of a new contract, but he won't be receiving any offers worth more than $1 million a season, given the fact that he has scored just nine goals in the last two seasons combined.

    At 32, there's still a chance that the former All-Star could resurrect his career, but it won't be with the Canadiens. Though still relatively young, Gomez's puzzling lack of production may spell the end of his time in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby

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    There will be many who argue that Sidney Crosby could actually benefit from the lockout because the work stoppage grants the superstar forward more time to recover from his persistent concussion problems. 

    If only it were that simple. 

    Since sustaining a concussion at the Winter Classic on January 1, 2011, the former Hart, Art Ross and Stanley Cup winner has played in a grand total of 28 games. Yes, Crosby was dynamite statistically during that time, tallying an impressive 45 points, but the numbers don't tell the full story.

    Since returning, Crosby's goal totals are down (.39 goals per game in 2011-12 versus .78 in 2010-11), and he hasn't been as dominant as he once was. 

    In the Pens' opening-round loss to Philadelphia, Crosby put up eight points in six games but wasn't a difference maker when Pittsburgh needed him the most.

    For a guy who thrives on competition, if the 2012-13 season is cancelled, playing 28 games over a 33-month span isn't exactly going to expedite progress in his quest to reclaim his title as the game's greatest player. 

Roberto Luongo

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    The Roberto Luongo trade saga has been put on hold until a new CBA is agreed upon, which may not necessarily be a good thing for the highest-paid backup in the NHL. 

    As of now, Luongo has no plans to head to Europe if the stalemate continues, and according to a recent Vancouver Sun report, he was recently seen at the Florida Panthers' practice facility.

    Though it's only a matter of time until Luongo has a new team to tend the net for, if the season's lost, the 2010 Canadian Olympian will be 34 when the NHL resumes play and may not have as easy a time being a clear-cut starter, at least not with the Panthers, his first-choice team. 

    That's because Jacob Markstrom, Florida's anointed goaltender-of-the-future, will be 23 by that time, and may be ready to be a No. 1 in 2013-14. 

    At this point, there's no reason to believe that Luongo isn't still a franchise goaltender, but he isn't getting younger, and his time to win that elusive Stanley Cup is quickly running out. 

Jaromir Jagr

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    When Jaromir Jagr signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars worth $4.5 million in July, it seemed apparent that the 40-year-old former scoring champ's main objective was to make as much money as possible before his body catches up with him. 

    had Jagr chosen to remain with his then-current employer, the Philadelphia Flyers, the seven-time First Team All-Star would have had a much better shot at winning his third Stanley Cup. 

    Unfortunately for Jagr, it seems extremely unlikely that he'd garner an offer worth that much if the 2012-13 season is cancelled, and he'll be once again searching for a one-year contract to prove he's still capable of being a valuable top-six scorer. 

    There's no doubting his talent, but despite Jagr's sizzling start to the 2011-12 season, he faded down the stretch and certainly wasn't among Philadelphia's best forwards in the postseason, notching just one goal in 11 games. 

    He'll receive offers, but they'll be considerably lower than the deal he agreed to with the Stars in the summer of 2012. 

Martin Brodeur

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    As arguably the greatest goaltender to ever strap on the pads in the NHL, Martin Brodeur doesn't have anything to prove at this point.

    That being said, after taking the Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, the four-time Vezina winner signed on for another two seasons, and carries a cap hit of $4.5 million a year.

    Brodeur's not the dominant goalie he was during the 1990s or early 2000s, but he was still a top-10 tender in the NHL at 39 in 2011-12.

    However, with Brodeur turning 41 in May, if the 2012-13 season is cancelled, and the three-time Stanley Cup champ goes more than a full calendar year without playing a game, he'll be hard-pressed to replicate his 2012 performance when the NHL resumes play.

    He's a living legend regardless of what happens from here on out, but Brodeur may not be a viable starting goaltender by the time the NHL finally drops the puck on the 2013-14 campaign.

Dany Heatley

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    Remember when Dany Heatley was hockey's next big thing?

    Well, that was in 2004, during the last NHL lockout, as Heatley was coming off a Calder Trophy win in 2002, and an All-Star Game MVP award in 2004.

    Yeah, Heatley's still a top-six winger, but he's no longer a 50-goal scorer, and he's certainly not worth his hefty contract.

    One has to think the four-time All-Star regrets his decision to leave Ottawa, because his production has dropped of drastically since leaving the Senators, even though he played with Canadian Olympians Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau in San Jose.

    Unless lining up next to Zach Parise helps him rebound, Heatley appears to be on the decline, and the NHL lockout won't help his career.

    At the time of the last lockout, most would've considered Heatley a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, but now, on his fourth team, he's a marginal candidate at best.

Joe Thornton

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    As undoubtedly one of the most dominant players ever without a Stanley Cup ring, time is running out on Joe Thornton on the San Jose Sharks to get there.

    At 33, Thornton probably had another three or four seasons of quality hockey left in him, but with other key Sharks like Patrick Marleau and Danny Boyle aging as well, San Jose's chances at even making it to a Stanley Cup Final diminish with each year that passes.

    He's a surefire Hall of Famer, but if this lockout erases the 2012-13 season, his Stanley Cup window will be that much smaller.

    Jumbo Joe has a Hart Trophy, an Olympic Gold and even a Swiss league title, but he'll always be considered a guy who was much better in the regular season than he was in the playoffs.

Vincent Lecavalier

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    At the time of the last NHL lockout, Vincent Lecavalier was at the peak of his powers, coming off a Stanley Cup and World Cup MVP award all in the same summer.

    Nowadays, Lecavalier has gone from being Tampa Bay's franchise player to merely a second-line center and appears to be on the decline in a hurry.

    Injuries have taken their toll on Lecavalier over the past few seasons, as his point totals have dropped from 108 in 2006-07 all the way to 49 last year.

    He might still be a 50-60 point guy, but with each season that passes, Lecavalier's $10 million cap hit looks more and more like a mistake.