Old NHL Players Who Are Off to Strong Starts

Sam Stryker@sbstrykerContributor IIIFebruary 27, 2013

Old NHL Players Who Are Off to Strong Starts

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    The popular adage “everything old is new again” is proving to be true for some seasoned NHL veterans this year.

    While the usual young guns like Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steve Stamkos are leading the league in most statistical categories, some NHL players over the age of 35 are more than holding their own against the younger competition.

    Whether they are a sniper continuing to pot goals like Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne, a hulking defender scaring the living daylights out of opponents like Boston Bruins blueliner Zdeno Chara, or a veteran goaltender continuing to stonewall opposing teams like New Jersey Devils netminder Martin Brodeur, some veterans are defying Father Time.

    The following is a list of NHL players age 35 and over who are off to exceptionally strong starts in this lockout-shortened season.

    All statistics via ESPN

Martin Brodeur

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    Now in his 19th season in the league, the New Jersey Devils goaltender continues to add to his all-time win total while still playing solid in net.

    In 13 games on the season, Brodeur is off to an 8-2-3 record with a .911 save percentage and a 2.27 goals-against average.

    Those numbers won’t win Brodeur another Vezina anytime soon, but they are more than respectable statistics for a 40-year-old goaltender.

    New Jersey stands at sixth in the conference, so look for Brodeur to lead the Devils to yet another playoff appearance. The team lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals last season, so expect Brodeur to continue to play with a drive for the rest of the season.

Martin St. Louis

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning right winger just seems to get better with age and is off to another strong start. 

    St. Louis has four goals and a league-leading 20 assists on the year. One of the main beneficiaries of his hot play has been Lightning forward Steve Stamkos, who leads the league in goals (14) and points (30).

    St. Louis may be 37, but he is a speed demon on the ice. Don’t expect him to lose a step anytime soon, and look for him to rack up helpers with Stamkos continuing his own hot start. 

Teemu Selanne

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    The Finnish Flash doesn’t seem to age and is turning in yet another stellar season for the Anaheim Ducks.

    The 42-year-old right winger has potted five goals and tabbed 11 assists in 17 games this season, producing at a near point-per-game rate. Selanne is a large reason for the Ducks’ surprising success this season.

    Anaheim is sitting pretty at second place in the Western Conference behind the blazing-hot Chicago Blackhawks. The team ranks third in the league in goals per game and fourth in power-play percentage, converting 27.3 percent of the time on the man advantage.

    Don’t look for Selanne to let up his blazing start anytime soon. With a deep Ducks lineup, the 40-year-old should be able to keep up his pace for the rest of the season.

Niklas Backstrom

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    The Minnesota Wild's goalkeeper isn’t a superstar name in the league, but he’s turning in a solid campaign at the age of 35. 

    Niklas Backstrom may only have a 7-5-2 record on the season, but his stats are strong—a .919 save percentage and a 2.17 goals-against average.

    The Wild rank ninth in the league in goals against per game and sixth in penalty-kill percentage at a 84.9 percent rate. That is largely thanks to the exceptional start to the season by the Finnish goaltender. 

    Minnesota is just a point out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. If the Wild is to make the playoffs, it will largely be thanks to Backstrom’s strong play.

Zdeno Chara

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    Yet another year for the Boston Bruins' captain, yet another chance at the Norris Trophy. The 35-year-old defender continues to leave opposing forwards quaking in their skates and headlines a deep Bruins blueline corps.

    Boston ranks fourth in the league in goals against per game and is first in the NHL in penalty-kill percentage, largely thanks to Chara’s stellar play. Opposing power plays are stopped at a 95.1 percent clip with the man advantage.

    The 6’9” defender has three goals and five points on the season and yet again is in contention for the Norris, awarded to the league’s top blueliner. Expect Chara to keep up his stellar play as he looks to lead the Bruins back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Sheldon Souray

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    The workhorse Anaheim Ducks defender is averaging 21:32 per game for one of the best teams in the league.

    Souray’s strong start at the age of 36 has been a pleasant surprise for the Ducks, and the 12-year veteran has been a strong contributor for Anaheim. 

    Souray has four goals and four assists in 17 games and his plus/minus of plus-13 is tied for second in the NHL.

    Souray isn’t going to win the Norris anytime soon, but expect the veteran to continue to be a savvy contributor for the powerful Ducks.