It is the rare athlete in any major professional sport that continues to produce at a high level in his or her 40s.
In NHL history, the most famous is Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, who actually played into his 50s.
With the speed of today’s NHL game combined with the size of its players, it is amazing that there are a handful of skaters over the age of forty playing some inspired hockey.
Equally impressive is the play of Martin Brodeur as well, but I’m considering only skaters here.
With an honorable mention to Jaromir Jagr, I believe that Daniel Alfredsson, Ray Whitney and Teemu Selanne are the best players over the age of 40 in the NHL.
While Alfredsson’s numbers are not quite the same as the other two, at least in terms of points per game, he brings certain intangibles to his team.
Alfredsson has a great reputation around the league, and others have pointed to his ability to help his Ottawa Senators on their winning path despite a string of injuries, including their two best offensive players, Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza.
Alfredsson still plays meaningful minutes, and if Ottawa is able to make a long playoff run, much of the credit will likely go to Alfredsson. On most nights, he looks like he could play another two or three seasons at least.
Whitney does not get the same kind of press as the other members on this list, but that is a theme for his entire career. He has been considered too small or not effective enough away from the puck to be a top-line player by many critics.
He has proven those naysayers wrong time and time again.
While he has struggled with injury this year, he has continued to score at almost a point per game.
Nicknamed “The Wizard” because of his excellent puck-handling and passing skills, when Whitney has talented linemates, he is a top-line player on many NHL teams.
If the Dallas Stars can remain in the playoff race, Whitney will have to play a large part in this.
If the Stars fade, don’t be surprised to see Whitney picked up by a contender in the hopes of a long playoff run.
The “Finnish Flash” remains one of those rare players that can have fans in the rink rise out of their skates.
Despite being the oldest player in the league, Teemu Selanne can outskate most NHL players half his age.
While Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry lead the Anaheim Ducks offensively, Selanne continues to be an important part of team scoring.
He’s on pace to have more than 30 points in this shortened season and is a threat to score on every shift.
Secondary scoring is often one of the differences in determining whether or not a team can make a long run in the NHL playoffs.
If the Ducks continue their outstanding play, Selanne should receive a lot of the credit.